Management gets such a bad rap from folks in technical communication (and pretty much any other field), it’s a wonder that any tech comm managers exist at all. This is probably due to the fact that management is hard, and leadership harder still. Yehoshua Paul provided an excellent perspective on technical communication leadership versus management this week, and it’s prompted us to ask the community about their plans to get into management.
Over the years, we’ve seen many conversations on the TechWhirl email discussion list as communicators debate the advantages and disadvantages of moving into management, whether non-writers should be tech pubs managers; and doing the dreaded management task of annual performance reviews, to name a few. Being a manager usually means doing fewer of the technical communication tasks that attracted you to the field in the first place, so many professionals forego moving into management in order to stick with those content creation tasks. Others take the view that there are only so many ways to write a user guide, and heading to the management track is a challenging way to stretch yourself (and rake in a larger salary). Sometimes technical communication professionals, particularly newbies, simply don’t know if they have the aptitude or interest to pursue a management role. And, in today’s economy, businesses are looking to do far more with far less, so managers often are expected to be “working managers,” responsible for their own technical communication deliverables as well as managing and motivating a team.
This week’s poll gives you several yes or no possibilities, along with the obligatory “I don’t know” option. We’d love to see some conversation around career upgrades that include management and those that follow a different alternative, such as expanding skill sets into areas outside of the traditional technical communication purview. And if you’re a manager of a multi-disciplinary team, rather than one dedicated solely to technical communication work, please share your perspectives on the challenges and opportunities you experience in managing non-writers. After you vote and comment, feel free to start or continue a thread on the email discussion list, to commiserate, complain, or brag about your experiences with and as management in technical communication.