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Matthew was right on with his advice about surviving the switch from a
central pubs department to a team member approach:
>I have shifted my job definition a bit. I approach the work first
as a software developer, second as a writer. This perspective is important,
since you will be now associating with developers on the team more than with
the fellow writers. You will identify yourself more with the software team
rather than with the writing team. <snip> Working on a development team can
be hard, because the tech writer is generally considered the least
technically proficient member of the team, and programmers generally judge
all people by their technical abilities. <
I wanted to interject my thoughts here, because I went through this same
experience 5 years ago and apparently I'm still a little bitter :-).
One day our comfy little pubs department was demolished, sending writers to
engineering "teams" and suddenly reporting to engineering supervisors.
The effect was catastrophic for most. We suddenly were ranked and rated
against engineers, and obviously found lacking. Where we talked grammar and
punctuation and format, we now struggled with links and compilers and
languages. The idea of training, buffering, or otherwise helping with the
adjustment was not well considered. The new bosses were unsympathetic and
not very good at the care and feeding of writers.
The problem with these team approaches is that the don't take into
consideration the fact that many writers love writing, love their jobs, and
when the description changes so dramatically, they are left floating. They
may have no intention of becoming software engineers, no matter what some
MBA genius reads in the Harvard Business Review.
Personally, I didn't like being on a team. What always happened was that I
was handed other small projects that inevitably grew, and suddenly I'm
juggling a bunch of tasks while everyone else has a single focus. Which
means I don't feel like much of a team member all of a sudden. And my boss,
who never looked upon writers with much respect, is suddenly making jokes in
meetings about writers trying to make suggestions to improve the user
I would recommend to the writer who started this thread several things:
first, brush up your resume. You may not like where the company is headed
with this change. Be proactive with your career, instead of agonizing up to
the first performance review. And do start taking the classes Matthew
suggested, in case you find you are good at the technical side and want to
pursue it. Besides, you'll always want to keep up your technical skills,
just on principle. And third, make clear to your boss that writers have
different needs than programmers. Otherwise, they'll think of you as someone
with lower technical skills than a programmer has, rather than someone who
is already comfortable with their career choice, if not their temporary
place of employment.
gromaine -at- radisys -dot- com
- Endeavor to persevere
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