List of Bad Employers

Subject: List of Bad Employers
From: Matthew Danda <matt -at- SONYTEL -dot- BE>
Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 09:35:13 +0200

At some point in my career I would like to start a business, a technical
writing company.

However, all this talk about listing "bad employers" is a bit sobering.
Since (to quote another TECHWRLer) one person's "good" is another persons
"bad", and I have certainly seen organizations that employed immensely
satisfied people and horribly frustrated people--AT THE SAME TIME, I am not
looking forward to that dual aspect of being an employer.

If I run a business that employs many writers, the laws of nature dictate
that someone will be unhappy.

If I start a writing business that becomes successful, its pockets will be
deep, and therefore a juicier target for the lawyers.


It is so easy to be an employee and take pot-shots at management. Kindof
like making fun of people dancing at a disco. There is no challenge to
it--dancing people are voluntarily making themselves a target for ridicule
by standing on the stage and making ridiculous body gestures. So why do
some people continue to laugh at them? Perhaps because they are doing
something public, something visible, something risky....and, when done
well, something fun and rewarding. Unlike the onlookers, who just like to
sit on the sidelines and snicker, later complaining about a boring evening
at the pub.

I very much enjoyed Roger McKeown's article in this months STC Journal,
titled, "Below the Neutral Axis: A Case of Writers, Managers, and Companies
in our Current Economic Context." I found it extremely helpful in
identifying the source of some of my day-to-day stress as a technical
writer. Very informative. However, it also plants a little bit of fear into
me, of the prospect of becoming a manager. It seems like it is so, so easy
to "screw up," to invite law suits, to have career aggressiveness
seamlessly transformed into discrimination and unethical behaviors.
Developing a product is such hard, hard work, in and of itself, but to add
the human element, including the ever-present possibility of worker
retaliation, merely adds to the already insurmountable complexity.

I think managers of technical writers may have the most difficult jobs in
the world. Perhaps harder than technical writing itself.

Matthew Danda Sony Objective Composer (SOCOM)
Technical Writer Sint Stevens Woluwestraat 55
matt -at- sonytel -dot- be 1130 Brussels / Belgium
tel: 00-32-2-724.17.43
fax: 00-32-2-726.26.86

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