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Posts with the Tag: documentation teams

Secrets to Successful Interviewing and Hiring

9th October 2013 Posted in Blog, Hiring, Industry Articles, Management 0 Comments


Frequently, technical communicators and others who have been promoted into management find themselves facing the need to interview candidates for open positions. While successful interviewing is key to finding the right match for open positions in the department, all too often interviewers have never been provided with training to build their interviewing skills.

In her article, “5 Secrets to Successful Interviewing and Hiring,” Karen O’Keefe looks at:

  • Writing a detailed job description
  • Making sure the setting/environment is conducive
  • Conducting a programmed interview
  • Using multiple interviewers
  • Considering testing

Read the article and share your thoughts, ideas and experiences on interviewing and hiring in a comment below.

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Managing Conflict on Teams

26th September 2013 Posted in Blog, Industry Articles, Management 0 Comments

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Opportunities for conflict within teams abound in today’s work environment. Learning how to manage conflict can be an important part of a manager’s skill set. Unfortunately, conflict management is often missing from corporate training programs.

In her article, “Managing Conflict,” Kerry Harris looks at:

  • Objectives as a navigation tool
  • Diffusing conflict in teams
  • Identifying barriers
  • Tactics for motivating change

Read the article and share your thoughts, ideas and experiences on managing conflict in the workplace in a comment below.

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Creating a New Documentation Department

13th September 2013 Posted in Blog, Industry Articles, Management 0 Comments

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As a documentation manager or lead technical writer, you may be faced with expanding your group or creating a new working group from scratch. You’ll want to hit the ground running and show that your new department functions well, adds value to the organization and can work well and play well with others.

Eric Butow has had to set up documentation groups in very different settings. His experience can prove invaluable to others who are facing the challenge for the first time.

In his article, “Five Questions to Ask Yourself While Creating a New Documentation Department,” Butow provides some insight on what to consider when forming a new documentation group, with five specific questions that can guide you in getting it right. Read the article and then leave a comment here if you have additional tips for setting up a documentation department.

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Measuring the Productivity of Technical Writers

5th July 2013 Posted in Blog, Management, Technical Writers 0 Comments

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In reality, all performance evaluations of technical writing are subjective. However, if your team is working on related projects with similar outputs, it is possible to develop standard metrics to evaluate writer productivity, relative to a project’s standard deliverables and to other team members.

Every manager struggles to balance writer workload and project capacity. This simple spreadsheet-based system developed by Pam Swanwick and Juliet Leckenby of McKesson Inc., can help you objectively evaluate assigned tasks, task time and complexity, special projects, and even writer experience levels to more accurately assess individual workload and capacity.

Organizations may download, reproduce and modify the spreadsheet application they’ve developed, as long as the required attribution (see the article for details) is provided in the spreadsheet properties.

Read: Measuring Technical Writer Productivity

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Making Your Documentation Team More Visible

23rd May 2013 Posted in Blog, Career Development, Management 0 Comments


A documentation department can be a key factor to a company’s success. Unfortunately, many companies don’t realize that. To some extent, the fault may lie with the documentation team itself in failing to make its benefits widely known.

Probably the biggest obstacle to valid recognition is that documentation aren’t seen as contributing to the company’s bottom line. However, some deliberate actions can be taken to boost the team’s visibility.

Raising your visibility means that your team and its individual members may be offered interesting opportunities to contribute in other ares of the organization and perhaps even survive longer in times of downsizing and budget cutbacks.

Whitney Potsus provides actionable advice in her article, Raising Your Documentation Team’s Visibility. Read the article and then leave a comment below with your thoughts on what you might add or revise in today’s business climate. What recommendations would you make, and what has worked for raising your team’s corporate visibility?

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Getting Your Documentation Team Noticed

11th November 2011 Posted in Blog, Industry Articles, Management 0 Comments

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As a documentation team manager, getting visibility for your team within the organization can be a challenge. Technical writers and doc teams aren’t generally seen as profit centers, so they are often relegated to second-class status.

Whether your documentation group is a solo technical writer or a team of 12, poor internal visibility for your group can mean it gets overlooked when promotions, bonuses and other company perks are handed out. It can also mean that team members may be more susceptible to staffing cutbacks.

This article by Whitney Potsus discusses ways you can get your documentation group some visibility. It contains a number of tips along with some good resources to get you on the right track.

Read: Raising Your Documentation Team’s Visibility

More from Whitney Potsus

The Life of a Lone Writer

Are You Dealing with Professional Burnout?

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3 Ways to Motivate Your Team and Increase Productivity

3rd February 2011 Posted in Blog, Leadership, Management 1 Comment
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The difference between a new team member and a seasoned team member is easy to see. One has energy and one does not.

Why is this? For many teams, it’s not a matter of the job situation, but rather it’s a lack of motivation. This is no one’s fault necessarily. Motivation is something that waxes and wanes, though you want to find ways to keep it high if you want productivity and creativity to be consistent.

1. Answering the Why

Though it might seem as though people should do the work they do because they should, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Your team members might have days when they feel what they do isn’t important or that it doesn’t make a difference. You need to show them that it does.

When you can show your team that the things they do add up to real-life impact, they will see that their continued energy and motivation is for a good cause.

2. Recognition for a Job Well Done

Rewards and other forms of recognition are also going to help your team see that you are noticing their hard work and that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed. It might be a good idea to offer rewards after particularly hard projects, as well as recognition in team email or meetings when it is deserved.

Pointing out that one person did a particularly good job often has the effect of causing others to try to meet that standard as well.

3. Work as a True Team

Though it might seem easier to just assign tasks to your team and allow them to go about their day self-motivating, it’s actually a better idea to encourage your team to work together. When the team is interacting, they can creatively problem solve as well as spend their time finding ways to work as efficiently as possible. The team will work harder because they know they’re not the only person that matters. They have a team depending on them too.

Productivity has almost become a buzzword these days, but it still should be a priority. With the proper motivation in your office, you can increase the speed of the work to be done and have a team that’s willing to do it, even when they don’t want to.

If you manage a team, what techniques do you find particularly helpful in motivating them? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Related topics

Fundamentals of Leadership: Communicating a Vision
Making the Transition from Technical Writer to Manager
Wearer of Many Hats: One Management Style Does Not Fit All

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Collaboration 101: How Old School Processes Prohibit Us From Working as a Team

Editor’s Note: This was the feature article in this month’s TechCom Manager newsletter, reprinted here with permission. Click the previous link to subscribe to the newsletter.

Scott Abel

No matter where you look these days, some vendors are touting how their new software products can help technical documentation departments magically “collaborate” their way to tremendous savings. You may be considering a purchase of one of these collaborative authoring tools. If you are, be forewarned that your return on investment may not be as spectacular as anticipated.

It’s not that there aren’t tremendous savings to gain by working in a collaborative manner. There are software products that can help your documentation group work more efficiently, making it possible for you to save significant time and resources. The real problem is closer to home. And it actually has nothing at all to do with software.

The real problem is that most technical documentation groups do not work as a team. Just because you co-locate a group of people in one big room, or somehow join them together under a common departmental umbrella, does not make them a team. Not even close.


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