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Coherence in Diversity

By Farheen Viquas

The dynamics of a team is an interesting  analogy to a jigsaw puzzle. Before puzzling out, we study  the pieces in the jigsaw puzzle to understand the best fit. Similarly, we analyze each member in the team to determine the right fit.

Considering the structure and size of the teams, it is impertinent to gauge not only the skill set, attitude, and experience of the candidate but also the personality of the candidate.

Diversity is the need, but make sure at the end, the goal of the team is met. It is a herculean task to understand a candidate in a span of few hours. The candidate might perform outstandingly well at one time, but may not at the other times. The  hiring manager must therefore consider the candidature of a person  who is a performer,  adheres to deadlines, is proactive, quick learner, and above all, is  not be a nuisance to the team.

Scenarios

Rose is punctual and begins working on the document that Tim, a senior member on the team, has reviewed. She has been asked to incorporate review comments in her document. She is upset about the umpteen comments marked in her edited document. Instead of learning through peer review, she is sulking. She confronts Tim and wants to know the reason for  so many comments. Tim tells her that her work does not conform to company’s style. She needs to unlearn what she had learnt at her last workplace. After having many meetings, she was reluctant to comply with the standards of the company. This eventually led to exchange of e-mails among Tim, Rose, and their manager. The upshot of the chaos was that Rose resigned because she wasn’t ready to learn at her new workplace.

So, how do  we gauge a candidate capability?

Jay is a newbie in a team of  senior technical writers. He has six months writing and editing experience. His job requires him to even draw graphics. His problem is that he cannot skim through his documents before sending his work to his seniors. He doesn’t get upset by the plethora of comments and edits that his documents have even after 6 months of his stint at the company. But, the problem Jay’s mentor faces is that he doesn’t incorporate the feedback completely and correctly. For example, the spellings found in his documents are in American and British styles. So, his documents need to go through 3–4 review passes to check whether he has applied all of the review feedback.

Considering the preceding scenarios, it is important to screen the candidate properly before he/she is on board. There are times when the candidate’s perception about a particular company is based on what he/she has heard or read. But, the role a hiring manager needs to play is not only to make the candidate understand what the company is all about, but also to understand what the candidate knows about the company and role he/she needs to play. The hiring manager must explain the job role, tasks involved, and the desired skill set in the job description. The process, team structure, et al need to be clearly articulated.

The focus of the team should only be on work and not the other non-productive activities, such as meetings to resolve a conflict between two team members, having a root cause analysis for understanding who is not working properly, filtering out the nuisance creators, and in the rarest cases wranglers. The managers need to make sure that he/she should have clear picture of his team members, their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.

He/she should also make sure to never allow fracas, groupism, and bias to creep into the team. The cornerstone of the team should be that each team member commit to the team goal. Each one should understand for the uninterrupted functioning of the team there may be plethora of decisions that would be taken and it may or may not involve each member of the team.

Scenario

There is a particular project in which there are small documents that need to be written. The client has provided an aggressive deadline; therefore, there is no time for peer reviews. In such a scenario, the manager assigns work to four technical writers in the team. So, what should the other team members think? They should understand the requirement, deadline, and the chosen Technical Writers capabilities.

The correct action would be to wait for other projects to be assigned. If you understand the requirements and deadlines and you think that you should have been assigned one of the documents, then in that case you can step up and inquire from the manager.

Never behave irrationally without finding out the reasons for the assigned work to another technical writer.

Hiring the right person at the right time is a difficult task. Most often than not, the hiring is done at a very short notice. In those 1–2 months, many candidates apply for the position. But, the hiring manager’s responsibility is to ensure hiring the best candidate at the earliest. Not screening the candidate correctly and comprehensively can lead to many problems later. From hiring the candidate who is right out of college to a seasoned technical writer, the challenge is to validate whether he/she is willing to adapt to the new environment, team structure, and processes. Screening candidates can be an ordeal; you got to decide whether you want to go through the ordeal daily or only once.

Note:Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

About the Author:

Farheen Viquas:  I’m a certified Technical Writer and currently working as a Senior Technical Editor at NetApp, Bangalore. Have earned a Master’s degree in English Literature from Bhopal School of Social Sciences. Started my career in technical editing at Huawei, Bangalore. Besides working as a Technical Editor, I’ve worked as a Technical Writer, Language Consultant, Information Tester, English Trainer, and Transcriber. My hobbies include reading, writing, and listening to music.

My contact details: E-mail: farheen.viquas@gmail.com

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