If you started reading this post, the first thing that you may have thought was that we wrote this story for people who work as a manager in a documentation team. However, don't believe your first impression. As a current technical writer, you could get a raise one day. When you become a manager, this material will come in handy, too. If you are a project lead, you will also benefit from reading this post; you share a lot of common responsibilities with managers so this information will come in handy. We are not born skilled managers. Experience comes with time. Today, we will not be reaching the soft skills of rewarding managers. Our task is to analyze what makes up this role in technical writing, how to improve your skills, and how to be a brilliant leader. Here are 3 ways to become a better technical writing manager.
The task of a manager in a company is to understand all processes involved in technical writing. The first thing you should do is to integrate into the existing system. After that, you can proceed to set all the processes anew. What was done before you is not always good. Use your fresh perspective to see what you can do well. You can not control time frames, or results you expect to get from your team’s work. But you can improve everything in between.
People, after getting a promotion and spending some time on the team, are easier to assess. You can assess the characteristics and skills of your direct reports. But, do not forget that working in a team, you should never consider your colleagues as potential subordinates. Treat them as if you also just started to work for the company. If you have become a manager in a new company, be prepared to work hard to understand how to distribute resources and tasks correctly and be successful at risk management.
Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, you will need to evaluate technical writers on the team and understand what special tools to use for this. Modern software for technical writers have good reporting tools, which is a good way to do this. ClickHelp offers dozens of reports. You can use them to learn about your team. This will help you assess the people on your team.
Another factor that you should consider is communication with team members. Make this your priority. Clear communication is a vital skill. The information you get from reports can help you paint a picture of your team. Multiply your soft skills and communication and you and your team will benefit from it. Why is this important? You will be more flexible. This will help you to approach each employee individually and get better results. Your tech writers on the team will grow thanks to your understanding of how to distribute responsibilities.
The first thing managers do is communicate. You will be constantly talking to other managers over many sessions. This can help you learn how the overall company works and what the company goals are.
One great tip is to attend all-hands meetings because they are the most meaningful meetings to understand the course your company is on. If some company areas deserve more attention, you will see that and could align your team’s goals with major company goals.
Let's say your company will focus on new clients in the new quarter. This is a sign for your team to create a technical version of your user manual, particularly for this goal of onboarding new customers. You can specify simpler terms or more details. Or, on the contrary, your company may focus on its long-term customers. So you need to create a ‘pro’ version of technical documentation.
Also, look at how the information is presented and learn to listen to your staff at big meetings. All this can help you in your work and take your department to the next level.
In conclusion, we’d like to give you some food for thought. What is the difference between being a leader and a manager? We used the term manager in this article for the sake of clarity. But being a leader is what you need to do. There’s actually a not-so-subtle difference between managing a tech writing team and leading it to success.
Dig deeper and fulfill all duties. Become a true leader. Ask the right questions. Seek ways to grow and expand. A leader focuses not just on timely delivery, but on each individual team member and the company as a whole. That's how you can achieve better results. Become a true leader, not just a manager.
Good luck at becoming successful with your technical writing management!