“A successful team is a group of many hands but of one mind.” — Bill Bethel
One of my earlier blog posts gave ideas on how technical writing managers build successful work teams. This bears repeating as a year-end reminder that successful leaders need to review and evaluate the dynamics of their teams at the beginning of each New Year, and then at designated intervals throughout the year. As a manager, it is your job to identify the needs of your teams and then put people into roles that address those needs.
Good teamwork doesn’t magically happen. Make sure every team member:
- Has a specific role
- Is supportive
- Develops a bond
- Knows the plan
That’s how you build successful, dynamic, collaborative leadership, and happy team members.
The following was originally posted on Thu, Nov 14, 2013
A company's culture encompasses the values, practices, norms, and beliefs to be shared by the company's leadership and employees. It summarizes the personality of the company and defines what the company is like to work for from an employee's perspective. When building work teams within their departments, technical writing managers need to consider how each member of their them meshes with their company's committed culture. This can mean the difference between success and failure for individual projects within their departments.
Instill a positive culture:
As a technical writing manager, your attitude and level of respect will influence your department's culture.
- Show respect for your employees as people and workers
- Hire those who are self-starters and fit your culture
- Show calm under pressure
- Use humor where appropriate to reduce stress during challenging situations
- Value your team as individuals that make a difference by sharing their knowledge, experience, and skill
- Strengthen buy-in and commitment to company goals and values
Share vision and direction:
- Organize your employees in optimal roles
- Establish guidelines for how your teams will function
- Encourage proactive and innovative approaches to problem solving
- Establish yourself as the go-to-person when problems arise
- Promote an early warning system for potential problems
- Stress the value of communication with all stakeholders
- Lead as well as mentor your employees to bring out their best
- Ask questions to draw out the knowledge and opinions of your employees. Then, become a listener to gain insight into issues in need of attention
Encourage development of technical skills:
- Provide training opportunities to increase proficiency in authoring tools
- Foster interaction with subject matter experts (SMEs) to increase product knowledge and facilitate more timely reviews
10 Qualities of a Self-starting Employee
Self-starting employees tend to be confident, proactive, optimistic, and team players. They are achievers who get things done, usually without being told or reminded. Self-starting employees make for a positive work environment, which in turn contributes to the success of both your company and its customers. Qualities to look for in a self-starting employee are someone who:
- Prepares ahead for their daily activities. They use time management techniques to plan their day and prioritize tasks. Yet, they are flexible and able to adjust their plan when unexpected events occur.
- Controls their priorities. They consider existing obligations and lead a balanced life between work and family.
- Surrounds themselves with positive people. They tend to associate with others who project a confident attitude and encourage success.
- Develops the habit of using only positive language. They have a "can-do" attitude and ask, rather than complain.
- Has a strong work ethic. They are hard working and can follow through and complete tasks that they are assigned to do.
- Performs their work with passion and enthusiasm. Yet, are not afraid to request help when overcommitted.
- Is realistic in their outlook. But, are willing to step outside their comfort zone to take some risk.
- Respects others and shares their expertise. And, are willing to offer constructive feedback so co-workers might learn from their experience.
- Gives praise and takes time to celebrate. They show their appreciation publicly for a job well done or a co-worker’s help.
- Gives back to the community. They create positive energy by volunteering outside of the office.
Use Novatek as your outsourcing experts:
Should you find your in-house team, understaffed, overloaded, or overwhelmed, consider outsourcing your projects to a technical writing services firm that specializes in your industry.
At Novatek, we:
- Pride ourselves on a committed company culture that inspires and unites
- Have employees that understand the values and mission of our company
- Hire those who are self-starters and fit our culture
- Recognize that we are all part of a team
- Know that good decisions can come from any team member
At Novatek, we use best-practice systems and experienced consultants to recommend, create, and deliver customized solutions for managing and transferring your technical content using Active Knowledge. In addition, you’ll reap the benefits of working with one or more of our self-starting employees. To ensure your project runs smoothly, we’ll draft a Statement of Work (SOW) up front that defines your project’s plan and spells out expectations and objectives in writing so that everyone knows the game plan before we start.
Have you used an SOW when outsourcing a project? Have you found it a successful tool or is it limiting? Share your personal experiences in the comments below.
Unfamiliar with Novatek's SOW?