Re: Management disagreement RE: HTML

Subject: Re: Management disagreement RE: HTML
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 1997 16:34:38 -0800

Stephanie,

I can certainly understand your not wanting to relinquish the
responsibility of coding in HTML. It's a valuable skill to have
in our occupation and you probably feel (and rightfully so) that
you would be less employable without it. Additionally, you certainly
don't want to give up the control that you now have over your docs.

However, going behind your new manager's back isn't going to foster
the kind of trust and respect the two of you need to develop for each
other if you are going to form a good working relationship. And if you
don't form that relationship *quickly*, you'll soon need to put that
HTML skill on your resume and start looking for a new position. Having
a new manager who doesn't talk to you isn't really a good sign of job
security.

If I were you, I'd try to find out the reasoning behind his plans.
Perhaps he sees the current intranet as a jumble of disassociated
pages and feels the need to impose some order. Perhaps most of his
work experience has been at large companies where job duties were
parceled out in a very orderly fashion and most employees had only
one hat to wear.

Rather than argue -- a losing proposition from the outset -- try
this:

Find out what the new manager's goals are. Learning "why" not only
makes new decisions easier to accept, it also makes it possible to
find a compromise.

Explain your concerns, not so much regarding "control" of the document
text, although that can certainly be a *small* part of it, but from the
career growth and opportunity point of view. Few managers, when approached
with legitimate concerns about career growth and employability, will
discount those concerns. They deal with these issues in their own careers
and understand the repercussions. They also want to keep their employees
motivated. At least *good* managers do. Turnover is expensive.

(And, yes, it's true, Mr. Manager. Technical writers *do* code in HTML.
As more and more software communicates to the user through the user
interface -- with graphics, bubble help, status line help, message
boxes, pop-up online help, etc. -- the line between coding and documenting
becomes more and more indistinct. Some of us even edit C++ code!)

Find out what the folks in webtech think. Are they anxious to take on the
additional responsibilities of converting your docs to HTML or do they
anticipate being swamped by the additional work load? Have they been asked
to assume coding responsibility for the entire company?

Once you have all the information you need, brainstorm a compromise that
will be acceptable to all concerned. For example, if continuity and a
cohesive look and feel are an issue, you could work with webtech to
create a style sheet and coding standards for all your web docs. Once
that's accomplished, docs could continue coding in HTML and submit
their work to webtech as a finished product that fits seamlessly into
the overall plans for the intranet. Docs might even want to offer their
services to webtech as backup coders to handle peaks in webtech's work
load.

If you approach the problem with all the professional demeanor at your
disposal, you should be able to reach a compromise that's acceptable to
all. However, there are always some situations that are uncompromisable
and unwinable. If that turns out to be the case, and I sincerely hope that
it isn't, recognize that the business world is not a democracy, that
the manager always wins, whether his victory is good for the company or
not, and that it may, indeed, be time to pack up and move on.

Please keep us posted. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's interested
in how this problem gets resolved.




Susan W. Gallagher Manager, Technical Publications
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com Expersoft Corporation, San Diego CA
http://www.expersoft.com

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