Re: Need advice on promotion (kind of long)

Subject: Re: Need advice on promotion (kind of long)
From: Smokey Lynne L Bare <slbare -at- JUNO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 11:02:01 -0400

On Mon, 13 Oct 1997 08:57:26 -0500 Jennifer Jelinek
<jlkraus -at- AMETEKWATER -dot- COM> writes:
>First of all, thanks to those who provided advice about
>those who asked me to summarize, I will do so ASAP.
>SEcond...I received a promotion on Friday from lone Tech Writer to
>"Supervisor of Creative and technical services," or something of that
>nature. Basically, I'm now in charge of the graphics department, which
>the moment includes two graphic designers with another one (hopefully)
>be hired in the coming months. We produce technical manuals, marketing
>literature, packaging, customer support materials for water filtration
>products. I'm moving from the tech support dept. to the marketing
>department, but I'm retaining my tech writing duties. In addition,
>I'll now
>be in charge primarily of managing workflow, tracking projects from
>to finish, making sure projects are clear and budgeted for when
>given to graphics, and basically running interference between graphics
>the marketing/sales people. This was really a surprise to me...I was
>9 months ago out of college, and I've been working since I've been
>here to
>create a better document development process. Apparently, someone
>what I've been doing, and now I've been given the whole ball of wax.
>excited, but a bit apprehensive. One of the two graphic designers has
>a bit
>of a bad attitude...poor work habits, negative about everything, not
>w/ authority. His work is good when he does it, but he's been able to
>away with a lot. For instance, it took him two weeks to make minor
>revisions to a PageMaker doc that I could have revised in an hour. THe
>other graphic designer does great, conscientious work, but doesn't
>have a
>lot of initiative...which I don't have a problem with; he's great to
>So here are my questions:
>1. I get to pick my own title. I'm thinking "Publications
>Coordinator/Technical Writer". Any other suggestions?
May I suggest Publication Services Manager - very comprehensive, defines
job area, and does not define to the 'inth' degree your job description
as your current title. This intimidates old staff you inherited. It
informs, but is broad spectrum enough to allow other areas to come into
your group such as intranet design and documentaiton. Welcome to the
world of re-org.

>2. I'm planning to go order JoAnne Hackos' "Managing your
>Projects" at my local bookstore this afternoon; any other suggestions
>must-reads that would help me prepare for this new frontier?
May I recommend you check with your lines of business group in your
corporation. Many times a project methodology may have already been
purchased, and used in business management procedures. Examples would be
LBMS, Method One, Project Office, Gantt Charting, Project Work Bench, and
so on. Each area is then expected to follow the company's guidelines for
whatever type of management methodology they have chosen. Before you
pick your flavor...I would recommend checking this out, as conversion is
a story from....well, you can imagine.

>3. Any advice on handling the switch to a supervisory position,
>in terms of my relations w/ my graphics co-workers? My goal is to work
>them, not "above" them, to help make the whole doc creation process
>more smoothly.
>From experience...may I ready for re-organization, outsourcing,
budget cuts, postmortems, and downsizing. Therefore, I would document
any problems you have had on job task assignments. Keep a ledger which
you all fill in daily, print or online. This goes to your direct with a
copy to you. Then it appears the direct is requesting day-to-day status.
Now, this does not mean you have to give it to the direct, but have it
on hand. Remember always, always, messengers run the risk of being
beaten up, whether by co-workers or other upper management. And doc
folks are especially vulnerable to this. Do not take it personally. I
make this very clear what was passed on to US, that OUR deadline is, that
WE have to produce 'xyz' by 'abc' date, WE now have to fill in this
status report daily, and so on. Get your direct to buy into this by
saying this is 'real-time' status at your finger tips. He/she should
love this, plus it takes it off you. If you don't have a quick
turnaround project time, say a day or so, then you could go to a weekly
or monthly report depending on the project size.

Do a few Duggie Howser notes daily. When it comes review time, you will
have a ledger to explain what you did when, and what deadlines you met,
and those you didn't and what cross-impacts affected them to cause them
not being met. I know several high-end techies who are wonderful in
channel vision work, but hate management of co-workers. A good
department manager should sort out these skill sets soon after hiring.
If you feel you are not comfortable with this responsibility yet, don't
give up. Ask to be sent to project management training (internal or
external), interpersonal skills development, diversity training, conflict
resolution, all of these wonderful classes come with managing.

The last note from the woods...and I wish someone would have told me that as you do work, ask you direct if you may have permission
(using a generic name in place of the company's) to save some copies of
what you have produced to place in your portfolio. Once you leave that
firm, telling future employers all my work is proprietary does not help
you. But this does occur. I usally ask (I show them several samples) to
pick one or two of their material I could use to show at a conference or
class I will be speaking to this year. I always, always remove they
name. Once that boss goes, the new one may not be so tolerant. You
never know when these things come in handy. I came out of a 4 year
project with a R&D software group, and you think I could bring things as
samples, the answer was absolutely not. I respected that, made some
modifications on the form, removed names of products, and was eventually
able to get a sign off. Portfolio work is a good review to show where
you have come from to where you are now. You can say it is a 'dynamic'
example of your knowledge and talent.

live from the bare's den.......


Good luck. And STC's management SIG is a good source for your support
>Jennifer Jelinek
>Documentation Coordinator/Tech Writer/ Webmaster
>Plymouth Products, Inc.
>jlkraus -at- ametekwater -dot- com
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