This month’s meeting started with a work-related dilemma: how do you convince busy team leaders to delegate work?
Some say it’s easier to do everything themselves. They know the work will be done right and on time, and they don’t have to take time out of their busy day to train and monitor a new person. However, this can lead to overwork and burnout for the leader, and frustration or boredom for the new person, who might decide to move on to a more interesting position elsewhere. Also, these leaders rarely have time to learn new skills themselves if they’re busy keeping up with masses of day-to-day work. That limits their own career advancement and job satisfaction.
Failure to delegate also ignores good business practices: encouraging people to expand their knowledge, and training potential replacements in case you want to move on to greater things yourself or are hit by the proverbial bus. Some tasks can’t be delegated, but others can be easily split off and handed to someone else. With a small investment of time, the new person gains new skills and appreciates the added responsibility, while the leader lightens their workload and builds a more capable team.
In other news, someone shared valuable tips about interviewing a potential employer or client. The interview is not only intended for an employer to check out the applicants. It’s also an opportunity for a contractor or potential employee to interview the hiring company and find out whether the job is a good fit. Have the managers worked with a technical writer before? Are they familiar with the way documentation projects work? Do they have a project plan, a realistic schedule, defined deliverables? Is there a job description? A company style guide? Is the “company culture” compatible? The applicant should be prepared to query any red flags, offer suggestions to make the project a success, and walk away if the job looks like more trouble than it’s worth.
Lastly, we discussed employment-agency pay rates. These often include some wiggle room; you don’t necessarily have to accept the first rate they offer. If the hourly rate seems low and they can’t budge, weigh it against other aspects of the job before you refuse. Maybe you can live with a lower rate in exchange for a shorter commute, great colleagues, a longer-term contract, or a promise of a raise in a few months.
The Tech Comm Café provides networking opportunities, job leads, answers to work-related dilemmas, and a burst of professional energy to keep you motivated. We discuss technical writing tools and techniques, career planning, portfolios, and anything else related to working as a technical communicator.
We welcome anyone who’s interested in technical communication — contractor, in-house, student, long-time tech writer, STC member, non-member, career-changer, or recruiter. We hope to see you at the next meeting!
Next Vancouver-area Tech Comm Café: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017
If you plan to attend, please RSVP to admin (at) stcwestcoast.ca.
Date: November 8, 2017
Time: 6:30–8:00 pm Pacific Time
Location: Allegro Café, Whole Foods Market, 510 West 8th Avenue at Cambie, Vancouver. The Allegro is the smaller coffee bar on the mezzanine level, with entrance on the Cambie Street side (not the restaurant downstairs in the main store area). Close to Broadway-City Hall Skytrain (Canada Line) and Broadway buses; pay parking on the street or in the Whole Foods underground parkade, entrance on West 8th Ave.
Heather Sommerville is a senior technical writer and editor with over 20 years of experience delivering clear, concise writing for business and technical audiences. She is an STC Associate Fellow and has served in many volunteer positions with the STC Canada West Coast chapter.