Complacency and Technical Writers

I’ve seen it happen many times. Colleagues who challenge themselves in their careers and nab a desirable job with a sought-after title. Maybe the job is a Technical Communications Manager role. Perhaps it’s a Senior Technical Writer position.

After they settle into the new role and demonstrate success for some period of time, they appear to stop learning. It’s as if they’ve reached their goal and don’t want to push themselves anymore. Here are two examples I’ve witnessed:

• The manager who just wants to write. They love writing but they’re not that keen on technology and they avoid terms like DITA and XML, even though more and more jobs require these skills.

• The technical writer who works for a large well-known company that is struggling financially. He knows the company is going through challenging times but doesn’t bother applying for any jobs outside of the firm. He feels secure and can’t be bothered to be proactive. One day, senior management decides to lay off almost everyone in the division, including the technical writer. He’s unemployed for six months because he is now competing with all the other writers who were laid off. He almost exhausts his savings in the process.

It’s not unique to technical writers and managers. I know someone who worked for years as a marketing consultant. When social media became more and more prevalent, he dismissed it as a fad, when it actually became a requirement for a job. If you were an employer and you had to choose between an eager candidate who was well versed in RSS feeds, blogs, and viral marketing and an experienced but expensive marketing person who was still mired in the 1990s, who would you choose?

In my opinion, all of these people became complacent. They stopped caring about learning and improving.

Why do people do this? Do these examples ring a bell? Why do you think that some people fall into this rut?

Robert Desprez is a senior technical writer who regularly blogs on subjects related to technical writing. Check out his blog:

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