Re: How to assign projects

Subject: Re: How to assign projects
From: Stephanie Holland <SLHOLLAND -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 1997 14:01:01 -0600

Hi Kathy --

I manage a Technical Communication group of four people in an
Information Technology Department. Each writer is assigned specific
areas of our company (e.g. Legal, Accounting, Materials, Sales, Customer
Service) and is responsible for ensuring that each part of our company
is adequately served when it comes to user documentation, intranet web
sites, training guides, etc.

For the most part, I divided our company's departments according to each
writer's strengths and preferences. Sometimes writers fell naturally
into taking over certain departments because they decided to take on the
responsibility or they enjoyed the topic, such as dealing with legal

When an odd project comes up, such as proofreading a co-worker's
proposal, I often assign it to the person who has the smallest workload
at the time. However, I will also consider the writer's strengths and
preferences. For example, I have one person in my group who loves to
edit and he's good at it. I tend to give him a lot of the editing
assignments because he lets me know that he enjoys it.

I rely on people to let me know what they like to do -- this is done
both informally and in our performance evaluations every six months. I
encourage people to tell me what they're interested in and what their
career goals are. These assertive people are the ones who are going to
gain more knowledge and improve their careers.

Your department sounds like it has some problems. Good luck.

Stephanie Holland
Micron Electronics
slholland -at- micron -dot- com

>From: Wyrwas, Kathleen A[SMTP:Kathleen -dot- Wyrwas -at- UNISYS -dot- COM]
>Sent: Thursday, October 02, 1997 12:07 PM
>Subject: How to assign projects
>In a previous job, our manager was the point of contact for upcoming
>assignments. She told us about these projects at staff meetings, and
>could volunteer for those we wanted. And if one of us got an
>advertisement for a class or seminar, we would gladly share it with the
>team. "Team" is the key word here. We all helped and recommended
>other for various things.
>However, in THIS job, secrecy seems to be the name of the game. Select
>projects and classes are offered to select individuals. For example, I
>was called into the manager's office recently, and he told me about a
>class on a certain technology. He really wanted to go, but could not.
>Another writer working on a project that incorporates this technology
>would be the ideal candidate, but could not go. So the manager asked
>me. The project that needs this technology is cool, but a sore spot
>the rest of us - another story. I didn't accept, but suggested he
>present this to the rest of the group at the next staff meeting. He
>declined, saying the other writers are more inclined to just do as they
>are told, and don't have the capability or desire for something so
>technical. Of course I told the others via e-mail and they were
>properly offended. (Mind you, these are people who have been in the
>department, working with engineering, for 10-20 years.)
>Another "for example". At this week's staff meeting, our manager
>the upcoming projects for 4th quarter and beyond, and we actually did
>get to volunteer. (This is rare. Usually we're appointed in private.)
>But in the over-the-wall conversation I'm listening to, a particular
>writer is just now being offered SIX OTHER projects we never heard
>about. And he is being offered a chance to go overseas to work with
>our engineers on product design. No, he is not a subject matter expert
>- officially we are all encouraged to work with engineering this way.
>But this writer seems to be the favorite lately.
>Which led me to wonder, how do other tech. writing departments dole out
>kathleen -dot- wyrwas -at- unisys -dot- com
>Unisys Corporation - Plymouth MI
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