Re: FWD: What constitutes a senior tech writer and how to get there?

Subject: Re: FWD: What constitutes a senior tech writer and how to get there?
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 14:15:27 -0700


Listmembers have offered lots of opinions on what constitutes a senior
writer, and I really can't argue with any of them. But our opinions
are not what matters here. It's your manager's opinion that matters
most -- at least as regards your current position.

As a writer with double-digit experience and the word "manager" appended
to my name, I see shortcomings on both sides of this employment fence.
First, it seems that you (I'm assuming you are "junior" here) have been
content to recieve boring go-nowhere assignments and accept blame for
your career stagnation without pushing back (until now -- well, sometimes
it takes me a little longer to get fired up, too). Second, it appears that
your manager has been content to point out your shortcomings without
offering you a path up.

So, now, here you are with three years of boredom under your belt and two
bad reviews to boot. Time to wake up and drink the whold damn pot of coffee!

The solution, IMO, is an old one but still effective after all these years --
MBO (Management by Objectives). If your manager can't do it for you, you
can manage yourself this way. My suggestions:

1. Meet with your manager. Manager says you've done a "lousy" job with
projects. So, ask manager point-blank. What are the criteria you use
to make this judgement and what, specifically, are the areas of my
work that need improvement. For example, is my writing poor? Do I not
meet deadlines? Do I not follow the corporate style? Are my reporting
skills sub-standard?

2. From this meeting, develop a list of objectives for you to accomplish
during the next review period. For example: I will work toward simplifying
my writing style. I will be careful to spell check every document. I will
work toward meeting deadlines. I will improve my reporting skills. Along
with objectives, state the approach you'll take to develop these skills.
For example, self study (reading a book on time management and following
the advice it gives), attend seminar (to learn Frame or RoboHelp)...

3. Keep a diary of what you have done during the review period to work toward
your objectives and the successes you've met. For example, if your goal is
to deliver projects on time, list all of the projects you've done, their
planned due date, and the date that you actually delivered them. If the
first project on the list is two weeks late and the fifth is two days
early, you have documented evidence of attaining your goal. If your goal
is to improve your writing, keep the editor's redlines and show that
your first project looks like it bled to death but your tenth looks barely
wounded. You will have again documented your progress.

4. When your review rolls around again, pull out your diary and show your
manager how you've improved. Your manager may forget the specifics of
what you've done, but your diary offers proof of improvement.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Continue to put
one foot in front of another day after day and to document your progress.

Good luck!

-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate. --Douglas Adams

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