Re: The value of technical writers

Subject: Re: The value of technical writers
From: Lydia Wong <lydiaw -at- FPOINT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 14:52:14 -0500

Wow. I'm flabbergasted as well.

My first thought was: Does she always say things like this and does she
behave accordingly? For example, do writers never get to take classes or go
to conferences because they have no "new things to learn"? If that's the
case, then I'd probably polish my resume, because you will have a huge
uphill battle to ever get the recognition you (or the other tech writers)
deserve. (And it doesn't sound like a great place to work, in that case.)

If on the other hand you aren't treated as if these things are true, then a
meeting with your boss is at least a starting point. It sounds like she
doesn't know what is involved in what we do. It would be great if somehow
she could actually spend a day or two "shadowing" you (or better yet, just
trying to fill in for you), but this doesn't seem to be a very common
practice in most companies.

I don't know if it would be the best politics or not (not being very good at
such things), but I would certainly express my dismay at her pronouncement.
Stating that opinion before other managers really rubs salt in the wound (in
my opinion).

I think your initial response was a very good one (diplomatic, but not just
letting the matter slide), under the circumstances. Best of luck to you. It
sounds like a yucky situation.

Lydia Wong
Technical Writer
FarPoint Technologies, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: RCURRIER <Rcurrier -at- RAINBOW -dot- COM>
Date: Tuesday, December 29, 1998 2:35 PM
Subject: The value of technical writers

>I was flabbergasted by a comment by my boss the other day that left me
>speechless (an unusual condition). In a manager's meeting we were
>how to rank all of Engineering's employees for yearly performance reviews,
>and she said something like: "It's difficult to rank technical writers
>with Engineers, because people who go into tech writing and QA are usually
>people who tried to be Engineers and failed. Also, Engineers can keep
>learning and advancing in their field, but technical writers have no where
>to go or new things to learn." This revealed such a horrific
>misunderstanding of the value of technical writers, that I feel I'm
>teetering on the edge of an abyss. All I could come up with at the time,
>to splutter "You are completely wrong, and we need to have a long talk
>this soon." After 20 years of being a technical writer and manager, I find
>that I am continually challenged to learn new technologies and that this
>is still fun and exciting. In no way do I feel like a "failed Engineer!"
>What in the world do I say to this dyed-in-the-wool Engineer who holds my
>fate and salary in her hands to convince her that technical writers have
>different skills than Engineers and should be valued differently?
>Robin Currier
>Technical Documentation Manager
>Irvine, CA
>rcurrier -at- rainbow -dot- com
>From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000==

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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