What do you want from a boss?

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Comments (15)

Bubba in Los Angeles, California

116 months ago

My company may need to hire some tech writers next year.
My question is, if you could design your perfect boss, your perfect work environment, what would you ask for?
What do you care about?

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Art Kautz in Denver, Colorado

115 months ago

I have had two of them, and one that was the boss from hell. The good ones left me alone and let me do my job; I knew what I had to do and when the books were due. I never let them down and they stayed out of my way and rarely had office or staff meetings.
The boss from hell on the other hand, had completely useless staff meeting every week and was on our backs all the time about just how complete the books were - as in what percent complete were they? She as not and never had been a writer. You wouldn't believe the snow job we pulled on her over that "how far along are you?" bit.

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wanderer in Saint Louis, Missouri

115 months ago

Perfect boss and perfect work environment?
~rubbing hands together eagerly~

Well, ideally, when setting up a project the following would occur:

1. A meeting with the boss to brief me on requirement and some potential guidelines
2. I go off and dive into the project
3. I schedule a short follow-up with the boss to indicate direction and get a general confirmation or slight redirection
4. I finish the work
5. I send the job off to the boss to address any last-minute issues
6. Final revision and send off

I don't want someone hanging over my shoulder watching my every move. I know what I'm doing, so just leave me alone. BUT, I don't want to be entirely without guidance. Give me an idea of what you're expecting so that I don't have to face the whole 'that was NOT what we were looking for' thing later.

Oh, and a 'B' movie marathon with cold beverages once a month or so would work wonders for morale. :-)

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pvds in Herenthout, Belgium

115 months ago

I agree with the two replies above. On top of that, I used to take advantage of my background in Marketing to "sell" my working conditions' requirements to my employer.

I'd always open with my 20/80 rule; 20% of the job is the first draft, 80% is editing, feedback and more editing... At least that would spare me the typical "Ah, your text is done, so we can expect the book soon now?" type of remarks.

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Susan

114 months ago

As a manager of Technical Writers, I appreciate this discussion. One comment about "useless staff meetings" however: they might be useless to you, but they are very useful to your manager. Your manager needs to know what you need and what is hindering you. Her job is to remove roadblocks, but she has to know about them first. She also has to go before senior management and report on your progress, so she has to know exactly where you are in the process. Take time to understand her job before you criticize too much.

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Eileen in Goffstown, New Hampshire

114 months ago

Bubba said: My company may need to hire some tech writers next year.
My question is, if you could design your perfect boss, your perfect work environment, what would you ask for?
What do you care about?
I am looking for a Boss that respects there Employees.Respects me for my EXPERIENCE and Not my age. A Boss that is FAIR and HONEST.In return He would get a hell-of a worker,that would give over 100%.

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Oscar in Gainesville, Florida

113 months ago

Key elements:

+ At least 7 years as a tech writer with project lead/lead writer experience.

+ Superb listening, writing, and editing skills

+ Takes care of the writers on the team: goes to bat for them with difficult engineers and engineering managers

+ Must be able to herd cats

+ Understands the entire documentation process and can do it all with aplomb

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Solaris in Vancouver, Washington

106 months ago

I agree with most of the previous statements.

A good TW department manager runs interference between the writers and other departments so that the writers can get their jobs done.

What is important to me is being told I did a good job. I do not want to wait for the yearly evaluation meeting.

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Solaris in Vancouver, Washington

106 months ago

The manager should follow the recommendations of the National Writers Union. Their recommendations help the writers get their jobs done.

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goombieking in Davison, Michigan

92 months ago

The thing most frustrating and lacking from my previous bosses was lack of communication about updates to the projects, particulary after they had left the building. Most of the time I would discover that the equipment did not function as it was supposed to after everything was up and running and the deadline was fast approaching. Sometimes I would overhear a conversation that would shed light on the project. Communication on project updates would have been nice. And never ask for a manual as the equipment is being loaded on the truck to be shipped.

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Techone in Portland, Oregon

90 months ago

At senior level, the best boss is never seen.
At junior level, some goals and direction are good, but let the people fall a bit on their own. Never micromanage.

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Mlyn in White Hall, Arkansas

83 months ago

I agree with a lot that others previously wrote. When pursuing my Master's in Professional/Technical Writing, I wrote my thesis based on theories of rhetoric and writing, considering concepts learned in all my theory courses. The thesis was more of a final project and less of an academic thesis because the bulk was a guide with a semi-academic reflective essay accompanying it. Anyway, the guide is a conflict resolution guide titled, "A Conflict Resolution Guide: Handling Conflict Within Organizaitonal Cultures and Among Various Discourse Communities Within an Organization." Long, I know! I performed primary and secondary research. The primary research involved me interviewing everyday people from various fields to get an idea of what they would like to see addressed in a conflict resolution guide based on work settings. All of the input was about bosses being more helpful and thoughtful on the job. It wasn't bias because some of the individuals had been in supervisor positions. With this in mind, I will provide what I believe would be good qualities in a boss:

*someone who will "get down in the trenches with his/her workers" and not discuss something he/she really doesn't know about from experience
*someone who knows the importance of understanding other discourse communities and/or fields and who actually make steps to learn more
*someone who allows employee feedback on things anonymously or not, without reprimanding, of course
*someone who shows appreciation to employees through various methods
*someone who promotes people because of consistency in doing a good job and not just on "brown nosing"
*someone who is fair and ethical
*someone who promotes collaborative learning to make the entire company/office more well-apt to get the overall goals accomplished
*etc.

I could go on, but it would take all day. I think I covered the basics.

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ERBrydon in Cary, North Carolina

83 months ago

I discovered this question after the fact, “next year” now being two years ago, but it is timeless.

My Perfect Boss: Knowledgeable and well grounded with good interpersonal skills, and whose sense of accomplishment and performance evaluation is coupled to how well they enable rather than disable their subordinates.

My Perfect Environment: Ideally, a home office, e-commute, web meetings (minimal), flexible 24/7 work schedule. But if onsite is really necessary, then a clean, quiet, professional atmosphere with adequate resources, maximum personal autonomy and minimum interruption.

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ERBrydon in Cary, North Carolina

83 months ago

Susan, I understand it’s been awhile, but in response to your defense of “useless staff meetings,” as a sufferer of many over the past 40+ years I would like to respectfully offer the following observations. You’ve explained what’s in it for management but mentioned no benefit to your subordinates, which begs the question: do you use your meetings as opportunities for two way communication?

Typically, in any group of a dozen or so folks there are only two or three individuals who will speak up voluntarily at meetings, and they are usually the same people who proactively inform management concerning needs and hindrances anyway rather than wait for the next meeting. The others remain quiet either because they feel shy or simply don’t care. I frankly cannot bring to mind a single corporate meeting in my experience that aided progress. They did provide many opportunities for off-the-cuff humor, though.

So a good boss, in my opinion, tries to keep meetings to a minimum, but makes best use of the time for all concerned when meetings are mandatory.

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aneuburg in Charlton, Massachusetts

83 months ago

I have worked for the perfect tech writing boss, and his name is John Minitti. What makes John the perfect tech writing manager?

He is a consumate realist. He matches work assignments to available resources with pinpoint accuracy. He has a better grasp of each team member's strengths and weaknesses than the writers themselves.

He is a tool guy. He investigates, tests, and evaluates new tools and updates to existing tools to make sure his team is well equipped.

He is a gentle, persistent critic. No matter how experienced and excellent the writer, he identifies where there is room for improvement. He provided the only meaningful review of my career.

He is a strong and accurate advocate for his team to upper management. That he does this with a minimum amount of meeting time is an added plus.

He cares about personal issues and professional development without being intrusive about either.

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