Re: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals

Subject: Re: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals
From: "Bergen, Jane" <janeb -at- ANSWERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 11:33:28 -0600

On Monday, March 23, 1998 6:35 AM, Eric J. Ray [SMTP:ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM]
(deleted for brevity)
> The production process for manuals in this company is one in which I
> produce the original pages, and the secretary makes double-sided Xerox
> copies of manuals on an as-needed basis (for customer orders).
> My predicament: There's a not-exactly-new secretary on board. She left
> company about a year ago, after having worked here for about 6 years.
> she's back. Personality-wise, she's a tough cookie: sharp-tongued,
> puts everyone in their place. About 2 weeks ago, she made a mess of a
> manual I had just revised, doing it "her" way. When I received my copy

Well, Mr./Ms. Anonymous, it does sound like a difficult situation, but
it sounds from you message that you might have more of a problem with
her personality than her work. You might take a look at that.

Second observation: sounds as if you and your management might have some
serious ownership issues. Are you giving her the file or the hard copy?
If you give her the hard copy, she can't mess it up unless she copies
the wrong pages in the dual-sided copy process. That's a pretty
cut-and-dried problem. If you're giving her the file, just start giving
her the hard copy and tell her you know she's really swamped and you're
trying to help her out a little. All she'll need to do is to photocopy
your original pages.

Third observation: sounds as if there is more going on here than meets
the eye. If Quality Assurance and your coworkers don't back you that the
manuals are sub-standard, then either it's your problem (overly invested
in owning the docs) or the problems are so politically entrenched that
you need to look for something else.

Have you gone to your boss and explicity (and objectively) explained the
problems? Leave out issues of personality (i.e., "bossy,"
"sharp-tongued," and other hot-button words) when you talk about the
docs. Instead, explain the problem from the viewpoint of a user ("the
user would be confused here, because.....").

Good luck. Sounds as though you are going to need it.

Jane Bergen
Jane Bergen, Technical Writer,
AnswerSoft, Inc. Richardson, TX
(972) 997-8355
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com

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