It’s not my job (or is it?)

As Technical Communicators we tend to encourage each other to get involved in more than just writing – to seek out areas where we can expand our scope in order to contribute to the overall product design, customer happiness, and business success. Often we can offer a unique perspective to each of these areas, and the business ultimately benefits from us sticking our noses in. Many of us work hard to build our profile and get more responsibility so we can make a wider impact. But is this right? Or does this just leave us swimming in tasks that take us away from doing a brilliant job on the main thing that we have been employed to do?

Neal Kaplan has recently blogged about this issue in It’s not my job, and he has also made a case for Why you shouldn’t do it all.

Like many Tech Writers, I’m the type of person who just loves learning new things and I’ve gained wide variety of experience and skills over the years as a result. I’ve often found it difficult to concentrate solely on my core writing duties when I can see other things that I’d like to improve. However, I do have to admit to times when my documentation suffered as a result of my scattered attention.

After recently changing roles from Technical Writer to Product Manager, I can definitely see the pros and cons related to keeping a narrow focus and working within the job description that you’ve signed up for. Tom Johnson’s recent post Should Technical Writers care about more than just documentation? provides a good discussion of this area.

Four months into my new role, I’m trying to stick to my core tasks – but I have to credit my previous willingness to take on a variety of tasks for landing my new position. It allowed my employer to see that my skills could be utilised in a different way within the business. Now I have even more ability to influence change within our existing and new products (and understand things from a tech writing and user perspective while doing it).

I think I’ll stick to a mixed approach in the future. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “It’s not my job (or is it?)

  1. Good point, Emma. This is a classic tussle between vertical movement and horizontal expansion. Vertical movement is growing in one’s area of expertise, and horizontal expansion is expanding one’s presence beyond the job description.

    While both are important, it is important to prioritise.

Leave a Reply