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Documentation Leadership: Dealing with People Issues in Technical Documentation

Learn how to overcome some of the most difficult-to-solve "people issues” in tech doc teams. Presented by: Barry Saiff - Founder and CEO, Saiff Solutions, Inc.

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Documentation Leadership: Dealing with People Issues in Technical Documentation
Your Host
Scott Abel aka “The Content Wrangler”
Internationally recognized content strategist
Helps organizations deliver the right content to the
right audience, anywhere, anytime, on any device
Featured presenter at content industry events
Serves on the faculty of the University of California,
Berkeley, School of Information.
Your Speaker
Barry Saiff
33 years in technical documentation
Led content development teams at
Symantec, Oracle, IBM, and GE
Founded Saiff Solutions in 2011
Provides technical writing services to large
enterprises in Australia, Japan, Canada,
US
 Getting to Know You
 Manager’s Toolkit: You’ve Got to Have CHARM
 Management: A Sacred Trust (The Soft Skills)- CARVE! THRIVE!
 Keys to Success: Motivation (SLAP!), Feedback
 Managing Up: Intrapreneurship
 Awareness, Bias, Culture: You, Your Organization, The World
 People Issues with Upper Management: Intrapreneurship
AGENDA
What are Your Interests/Experiences in
Managing Technical Writers?
• Managing a team of writers?
• Leading a team, without management authority?
• Managing outsourced or offshore writers?
• Hiring? Firing?
• Working for a good manager?
• Working for a not-so-good manager?
• What else?
Have you experienced:
When facing any difficult situation,
start with:
Curiosity and
Humility, proceed with
Awareness,
Respect, and
Mastery
Manager’s Toolkit: CHARM

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Documentation Leadership: Dealing with People Issues in Technical Documentation

  • 2. Your Host Scott Abel aka “The Content Wrangler” Internationally recognized content strategist Helps organizations deliver the right content to the right audience, anywhere, anytime, on any device Featured presenter at content industry events Serves on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Information.
  • 3. Your Speaker Barry Saiff 33 years in technical documentation Led content development teams at Symantec, Oracle, IBM, and GE Founded Saiff Solutions in 2011 Provides technical writing services to large enterprises in Australia, Japan, Canada, US
  • 4.  Getting to Know You  Manager’s Toolkit: You’ve Got to Have CHARM  Management: A Sacred Trust (The Soft Skills)- CARVE! THRIVE!  Keys to Success: Motivation (SLAP!), Feedback  Managing Up: Intrapreneurship  Awareness, Bias, Culture: You, Your Organization, The World  People Issues with Upper Management: Intrapreneurship AGENDA
  • 5. What are Your Interests/Experiences in Managing Technical Writers? • Managing a team of writers? • Leading a team, without management authority? • Managing outsourced or offshore writers? • Hiring? Firing? • Working for a good manager? • Working for a not-so-good manager? • What else? Have you experienced:
  • 6. When facing any difficult situation, start with: Curiosity and Humility, proceed with Awareness, Respect, and Mastery Manager’s Toolkit: CHARM
  • 7. Management is a sacred trust. As a manager, at any level, you have the power to: • Destroy careers • Destroy jobs • Destroy morale • Destroy the enterprise
  • 8. Management is a sacred trust. As a manager, at any level, you have the power to: • Build careers • Achieve miracles • Treat people fairly • Develop lifelong relationships of trust
  • 9. Management is a sacred trust. As a manager, at any level, you have the power to: • Turn lives around • Empower people to be more effective and productive • Enable people to learn things that make them more successful • Turn the enterprise around
  • 11. Caring • The enterprise • The results • The people • The process The fundamental way of being of a manager is caring. A manager cares about:
  • 12. Caring: A New Idea? Have you ever thought about management in terms of caring? Yes? No?
  • 13. Access Have you ever had difficulties or stress at work because your manager had no time for you? Yes? No? Your people need regular access to you, and you need access to your management.
  • 14. Being Respectful of Yourself Expand the realm of what you consider yourself responsible for. Do not accept being treated with less than full respect. Give yourself a break. You will make mistakes, in fact, you must make some mistakes in order to learn how to improve. BALANCE Infographics: 7 Elements of Respect
  • 15. Vision Without vision, management is damaging. Be inspired, and you will inspire others. Keep the mission, vision, and values of the organization alive, in everyone. Make sure people understand how their work forwards the whole. Are you clear about the mission or the vision of your organization? Yes? No?
  • 16. Expect Excellence Dr. Wayne Dyer was well known for the idea, based on extensive research, that we create what we expect. Be aware of your expectations. Choose them wisely.
  • 17. TRUST Caring – Trust = Micromanagement Trust is the currency of business success. Without trust, nothing is possible. You must calibrate trust for each person/situation. What do you trust me for? Do you trust me to do my job well? Would you trust me to protect your daughter from harm? These are very different questions.
  • 18. TRUST Team (We are all on the same one.) Relationships based upon Understanding, Sensitivity, and Tolerance Calibrate your level of trust in each person wisely. Believe in people.
  • 19. Being Question for managers: Who am I being? Get clear on who you are, as leader. For example: I am an authentic, caring, challenging, dedicated mentor. What is yours? (Feel free to steal from mine.) To get clear on your statement: • Notice, ask for feedback • Envision (Whom do you aspire to be like?) Get training: Never stop learning about yourself. Highly recommended: http://www.landmarkworldwide.com
  • 21. Empower Excellence: Integrity • How might I be the source of the problem? • Learn from failures and successes. • Hold yourself accountable for the results of your team, and for your impact on their self- image & performance. • Model behaviors and attitudes you want to develop. • Work at least as hard, and smart, as your staff.
  • 22. CHARM, CARVE, THRIVE Review CHARM: Curiosity, Humility, Awareness, Respect, and Mastery CARVE: Caring, Access, Respect, Vision, and Expect Excellence THRIVE: Training, Heard, Respect, Integrity, Vision, and Empower
  • 24. Motivation: A, M, P, T, AF Three Key Factors for Motivation: 1. Autonomy 2. Mastery 3. Purpose Great 11-minute video on motivation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuF Two Orientations of Motivation: • Toward (things you want) • Away from (things you don’t want)
  • 25. Feedback Frequent! Accurate! Clear! Specific! Do not fail to tell someone that they made a mistake. Do not fail to praise someone, often. Do have regular one-on-one meetings with each person. Do not fail to provide formal performance reviews at least annually. Remember CHARM! CARVE! THRIVE!
  • 26. Intrapreneurship: Speak Management’s Language Changing a process or a tool can be expensive. Understand upper management’s priorities. Present a business case. • http://saiffsolutions.com/home/tech-comm-intrapreneurship-5-key- approaches-infographic • https://www.slideshare.net/SaiffSolutionsInc/content-leadership-forum-how- to-be-an-effective-tech-comm-intrapreneur • https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/9273/271827
  • 27. Managers in a Changing World Localization of products and supporting documentation requires cultural awareness. Managers are at the interfaces: Between company strategy and employees. Between team members in many locations. Between past practices and future possibilities.
  • 28. Managing Cross-Cultural Teams Three Key Success Factors: 1. Mix cultures and locations. Having a mix of cultures in one location makes a huge difference. 2. Ensure editing, quality control, and inclusion. Make all writers have the advantages they need to succeed.
  • 29. Managing Cross-Cultural Teams A key success factor for Saiff Solutions: Our writers in the Philippines work with American, Canadian, Indian, and Filipino editors and managers (local and remote). Our editors each have at least 10 years of technical writing/editing experience.
  • 30. Managing Cross-Cultural Teams 3. Embrace differences by increasing your awareness! Understanding cultural differences – between countries, professions, departments, companies – is crucial to your success. Consider: • How do these people learn best? • How do they typically handle conflict? • What does “Yes” mean to them?
  • 31. Managing Cross-Cultural Teams Learn to listen newly: hear what you are missing. Management entails awesome responsibility and awesome opportunity. Both are magnified by a mixture of cultures. Many Americans, Japanese, and others regularly raise their voices, or interpret silence as a sign of agreement and support. They may hide from you the impact of how you are being.
  • 32. Seek Out The Strengths Many Asians are socialized to defer to authority figures and foreigners. They may be unwilling to say “no” or disagree with you, to ask questions or ask for help, especially if you (even unknowingly) raise your voice or exhibit frustration or anger. To be successful, you need to be sensitive. You need to be willing to change. You need to give up the idea that your culture is better. All cultures have strengths and weaknesses.
  • 33. Asking Questions Why aren’t they asking enough questions? How do you* respond to questions that seem pointless? Stupid? Are you* open to people who think differently? Are all questions welcome? Really? Why aren’t they asking enough questions? What does respect mean to you? To them? *Anyone in authority
  • 34. Respect Respect in the Philippines (and some other Asian cultures): • Defer to authority/role, age, whiteness, experience, wealth. • Be quiet. Appear attentive. Agree. Do what you are told. • Do not challenge or question authority. Support leaders. Respect in the USA (and many non-Asian cultures): • Tell the truth, respectfully. Do not withhold key information. • Ask questions, appropriately. Contribute. Speak up. • Do what you say you will. Do not lie. Support the team.
  • 35. Conflict/Culture Clash Some Common US approaches to conflict: • Discuss. Argue. Raise voices. Blame. Apologize. Resolve/Not. • Challenge. Brainstorm together. Resolve/Not. Some Common Filipino approaches to conflict: • Avoid. Work around. Await opportunity to resolve. Some Common Filipino responses to US approaches: • Withdraw. Resent. Sabotage. Leave. Some Common US responses to Filipino approaches: • Give up on the Asians. Blame. Assume stupidity/incompetence.
  • 36. Management Style Management in Asia is frequently “Command and Control:” • Management as supervision • Intensely hierarchical • “The manager always knows best” This management style does not encourage: • Collaboration • Asking questions • Prioritizing quality over deference to authority All over the world, people frequently leave jobs because of their managers. This may also explain why they don’t ask questions.
  • 37. In Summary: Things Are Not Always What They Seem Mistakes ...could be due to incompetence. But also think about: • The clarity of your expectations • Your communication style • Your openness to questions • Differences in display of respect • All the “authorities” involved and the above issues for each of them
  • 38. Can We Help You? What are your greatest challenges?  Staff changes  Resources/capacity/constraints  Team/personnel  Bureaucracy/management support  Cross-cultural/geographic issues  Other? If Saiff Solutions could assist you in overcoming your challenges, would you be interested in a free consultation?  Yes, please contact me directly.  Not right now, possibly later  No, thank you.