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>Up until Friday, my entire tech writing career has been with
>companies where all of the tech writers were in one department
>answering to one manager. On Friday, that changed when my present
>employer announced a major reorganization of the R&D department.
>There are now five software development teams, each team has a number
>of tech writers. Although each group of tech writers will answer to a
>group manager, there is apparently no plan to have one overall
>manager in charge of tech pubs. There's been talk of a "steering
>committee" composed of reps from each team so that we can maintain
>some consistancy across the teams...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
>This is a done deal, there's no chance to change minds or present
>alternatives. Okay, in the meantime, the pay's the same and the
>deadlines haven't changed.
Your response should depend on the nature of your personal ambition
and the food chain. There used to be one Tech Writing Manager. Presumably,
this person hired and fired, controlled the printing and contracting
budgets, made decisions about standards and equipment, and generally
planned for the future. What happened to this manager? Demoted to
one of five, shuffled off to a corner, promoted?
Now you've got five sub-managers where one real manager used to be.
There is now a Tech Pubs power vacuum, as no one is in charge of any
of the things the previous manager was presumably in charge of. (Who
got the budgets?)
An efficient Tech Pubs operation needs to be centralized, so writers
can move from project to project without having to learn new standards
and new software, and so company standards can be created and enforced.
Otherwise, the material seems schitzophrenic, and everyone spends their
time reformatting and relearning stuff that could have been done once.
Someone needs to step into the gap. Maybe you. Chair the steering
committee. When no one else shows up, write all your own recommendations.
Recommend that everything be fixed: more training, bigger monitors, better
software, coherent standards, an editing process with teeth. Do as much
of the work yourself as possible. Publish reports on the benefits of
these things, and copy everyone on the Executive Staff. Talk to them
individually about it, especially the amount of pure waste involved
in the rework and confusion created by a standards vacuum.
After a few months, ask for a promotion. Be the Technical Editor.
Take control of the budget. The raise will be somewhat delayed.
It worked for me.
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139
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