Re: FWD: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals

Subject: Re: FWD: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals
From: ""Renée L. LaPlume"" <rlaplume -at- RORKE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 11:13:05 -0600

To what's already been stated, I would like to add
the following:

- Ask yourself, who's her boss, if any?

- Ask yourself, who's my boss and/or "champion"?
(not necessarily the same person, if your
boss is unsupportive).

While it works well to go to your peers (the QA and
Production people) in a supportive/team environment, it
may not help if you are dealing with a dysfunctional
environment. (See also the Dilbert Zone.)

>I was hired by my company about 1 and 1/2 years ago to
convert all the user manuals from WordPerfect to Microsoft Word.

Who hired you to do this? Also, why did they do this - is
Word the new company-wide standard? Who's supposed to be there
for you to be sure you have the resources to get this done?
Do they care that this person is impeding the process for
which you were hired?

>This morning, after discussing the situation with a coworker who has a good
>relationship with this secretary, he told me the manuals simply are not a
>priority, and that she is busy with billing, invoices, etc.

Assuming the secretary has no functional boss (i.e. no one
she has not totally intimidated anyway), and/or that your own
boss is less than supportive... Could this person be a candidate
as a champion for you? Could he help you with any of these:
- Assuming you continue to need to interact with the
secretary, could he give you advice on how to deal with
her? (e.g., ways to handle her personality, ways to
convince her that your "new" way is better)
- Assuming your best option is to take full control
of the process yourself, could he help you in convincing
her to relinquish her role in the process?

Who has assigned her this role in the process (if anyone)
and can they be convinced to remove this role from her duties?

>In the process of the reformatting, I?ve spent many hours with the
engineers involved, and those who use the revised manuals agree they are
far better in content, appearance and usability.

Good for you. Keep that in mind when you're down.

>I also feel an undercurrent among the staff that the manuals are
unimportant, or certainly not a priority.

Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. When
you start feeling that way, re-read the first paragraph
about the good feedback you've received over the revised
manuals (tape it to your bathroom mirror if that helps).

>I realize there?s a personality issue involved,
but I?m willing to put all that aside for getting the focus
on to production of high quality manuals.

Another "good for you." Remember, you may not be able to
control this person's behavior, but you can control your
reaction to it. Try not to take it personally (I know,
always difficult for people who care about quality.)

>By the way, there?s been some talk of having the manuals printed at an
>outside source, i.e. a printer. I researched this option a couple times,
>and management didn?t follow through.

Who initiated this "talk" - management? In any case, if
this is your best option, bug them until they follow through,
in one way or another. Sit on their desk if you have to <grin>
until you get an answer.

>I don?t understand why the company hired a full-time
in-house technical writer, then doesn?t support me in a
way that promotes the best possible product.

If you have indeed entered the Dilbert Zone, don't bang your
head against the wall expecting it to make sense. Keep repeating,
"it's not me, it's the work environment."

From your description, I suspect that this individual has
major control issues. Best bet is to remain as positive,
assertive yet calm as possible, focus on the work and not
the personality of this person, which probably won't change.

If nothing else, try to find at least one thing about this
person you like. Does she have any pics of kids/grandkids
you could "ooo" over? I know I'm reaching, but (along with
the excellent advice the other posters have already offered),
I believe you will find *something* of help to you.

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