How do companies evaluate technical writers?
Have you ever wondered how technical writers are appraised in a company?
Have you ever asked someone how technical writers should be apparaised?
Do you have any idea how your performance has been evaluated in a a company and what worked for you and what worked against you?
In Economics, there is a term called Externality. Wikipedia defines the term as "an impact on a party that is not directly involved in the transaction. Another definition is, "An externality is an effect of a purchase or use decision by one set of parties on others who did not have a choice and whose interests were not taken into account."
In real-life scenarios, technical writers have to deal with so many externalities. They have no "choice" to influence or know how their performance is evaluated. I have strong reasons to believe that technical writers are not evalauted based on their "writing skills" alone. I admit that mere writing skills are not enough for a technical writer to succeed. I do not even believe their "writing skills" are enough to get a good appraisal. Technical writers even do not know whether they are being "evaluated or not".
Then, how are technical writers assessed as a group in a company? A large number of externalities, ranging from favouritism, personal grudge, sexism, and so on, do influence the way technical writers are evaluated. If you do not talk to the person sitting next to you, but completes all your deliverbles on time, is it right to hit at you for not speaking to the person next? How prudent is it to assess technical writers with the same yardsticks used to evaluate programmers and testers?
Have you felt the irony that nobody bothers about the "writer" in a technical writer, who often get pulled up for vague externalities? Why are technical writers continuing in a career that often regards them as lesser mortals? Is your career bringing the best out of you as a technical writer? Does the company acknowledges your contributions in any form? Are you a writer?
Should we be discussing this instead of FrameMaker, wikis, and social networking?