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A Motivating SLAP!

Apr 1, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Managing Technical Writers, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

Here is an acronym that summarizes the key success factors for motivating professionals:

SLAP!


Success

SUCCESS: People need successes to feel good about themselves and their work. Make sure there are small things that even the worst performer has a chance to succeed at. And then “catch them doing something good” and praise them. Your primary responsibility is to support your staff to succeed.

Learn

LEARNING: If a person is not interested in and motivated by learning, and by opportunities to learn, then they were probably not a good hire. Give your staff chances to grow. If you are creative, you will see learning opportunities everywhere, in everything.

Accurate Feedback

ACCURATE FEEDBACK: You owe this to each person on your staff. Separate emotion from fact. Separate actions and behaviors from person/identity. When someone makes a mistake, tell them. When they do something well, tell them. Do not let anything go. Be fair, precise, frequent, and helpful in providing feedback.

 Praise

PRAISE: Everyone needs praise. A study found that people need 5 times as much positive feedback as criticism to achieve their best performance. Think about that. If you are not in the habit of praising people frequently, change. (Remember, only praise accurately!)

What do you think? Have you discovered other key success factors for motivation? I’d love to know your thoughts! Please post your comments.

February 2016 News

Feb 19, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Outsourcing  //  No Comments

The Saiff Solutions Family Continues to Grow!

Here’s what’s been going on this month.

New Hires

TW More Fun In PH

Yes, Technical Writing Is That Fun!

We’ve welcomed 3 more technical writers into the family and are looking to add more! At this time, only local Tagaytay, Philippines writers are eligible for hire. View our available positions here.

More Office Space

We’ve expanded our office space to accommodate our growing headcount.

Saiff Solutions Extended Office Layout

Current Projects

MadCap FrameMaker DocZone DITA

 

Our writing department is thrilled to use the latest industry technical writing tools including:

  • DocZone to author DITA content
  • Flare to author topic based content
  • Framemaker to convert Word documents into .fm files

Posters – 7 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers

Feb 18, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Evaluating Technical Writers, How-To, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  2 Comments

Click on the thumbnails below to open them in a new window where you can save them.

1 Page Poster

Poster - 7 Habits 1pager

2 Page Poster

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See our 7 habits of highly effective technical writers aritcle here.

The 21 Dimensions of Respect

Feb 18, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Reference Articles  //  1 Comment

Sometimes taken for granted, RESPECT is one of a manager’s key success factors for leading productive, diverse, multi-cultural teams. The ability to deeply, broadly, and authentically respect others may not come naturally to everyone. Even if you are a “natural,” you may find these tips helpful.

RespectForForeigners

We can respect people by:

  1. Understanding them
  2. Seeking to understand before accusing
  3. Considering their feelings
  4. Listening to them
  5. Believing in them
  6. Expecting more of them than they expect of themselves
  7. Not buying into their perceived limitations
  8. Believing that they can achieve great things
  9. Being careful not to assume things about them
  10. Judging them as individuals, fairly, not as members of a group (gender, culture, etc.)
  11. Being creative about how to reduce the impact of your own biases on your decisions
  12. Hearing their unspoken concerns
  13. Knowing the signs of upset, disappointment, and anger for each person
  14. Appreciating and acknowledging them regularly, always authentically, and calibrated to give them an accurate idea about how they are doing
  15. Praise everyone: “catch them doing something well”
  16. Being responsible for your impact on them
  17. Modeling the behaviors you want to see
  18. Being as willing as you ask them to be
  19. Being careful not to blame them for your mistakes
  20. Being more responsible than they need to be
  21. When things go wrong, looking first at your own actions and way of being

Adopting a broad, global view of respect will improve morale, increase productivity, and strengthen your international business relations.

Agree, disagree? Comment below.

Join us for a special free webinar on the CARVE/SLAP/THRIVE approach to managing technical writers on April 14!  Register at the link below:

How to Motivate and Empower Globally Competitive Teams of Content Professionals

About the Author

Barry Saiff has led several small to large multicultural teams consisting of Technical Writers, Graphic Designers, Marketers, and other professionals at 7 different companies in the U.S. and Philippines. The integration of cultures has created a global knowledge base for world-class quality.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers

Jan 24, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Reference Articles  //  19 Comments

A Technical Writer’s maximum potential can be uncovered through developing these 7 habits, regardless of which country they are operating in:

1. Do not take it personally (learn)

Don't take it personally

Great technical writers thrive on criticism. They understand  that it enables them to improve, and to improve the accuracy and readability of their content. So, don’t take criticism personally. Use it to your advantage.

2. Learn before asking (respect, impress)

Learn before asking

Learn as much as you can from available resources before asking questions. In this way, you can respect others’ time and impress your colleagues with your ability to ask intelligent questions.

3. Ask (often)

Ask

Technical writing requires good people skills. Don’t attempt it alone. Ask questions. Ask for help.

4. REWRITE (always)

REWRITE

Pick 3 of your favorite writers. If you were able to see their first drafts, you’d probably think, “I can do much better.” The best writers in the world are the best re-writers. Always rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more.

5. Acquire Feedback (test, reviews)

Acquire Feedback

Technical writing is almost never 100% on the first draft. Without adequate testing and review, accuracy is often unattainable. Make sure you get the feedback you need to excel.

6. Understand (before publishing)

Understand

When you start, you may not fully understand your subject matter. That’s fine. By the time you publish, make sure you do understand. If you don’t understand what you write, your readers are not likely to understand it, either.

7. Contribute

Contribute

Notice things. Does the prototype work as expected? Are the user interface labels capitalized consistently? Ask questions. Make suggestions. Be a part of the product team.

Agree or disagree? We’d love to hear your comments below.

2016 New Year’s Gifts

Happy New Year from Saiff Solutions!

Please accept these presents which we think you’ll find useful for planning a successful year:

2016 calendar with information typing tips

2016 Calendar

Front | Back

2016 planning questions for your team, department, organization

 

GoalAt Saiff Solutions, Inc., we use these questions every year to support our growth and development.
Feel free to use them to support your own growth and development, as individuals and as an
organization.

  1. What did you accomplish in 2015 that you want to be acknowledged for?

 

1a. How well did you perform on your intentions and promises for 2015?

 

  1. What did you learn in 2015? (LESSONS LEARNED)

 

  1. What did you fail to accomplish in 2015?

 

  1. What is still incomplete for you? Consider your answers above, as well as people, events, or situations that you may be incomplete with.

 

  1. Are you willing to let it go? If not what do you need to do in order to get complete? By when will you do that?

 

  1. What is your vision for 12/31/16? Name at least 3 things.

 

  1. What do you intend to learn in 2016?

 

  1. What are you grateful for?

 

  1. What is your greatest challenge?

 

  1. What support do you need?

 

Optional bonus questions:

A. Fill in the blanks: I am willing to give up _______________ in order to have _________

B. What are you willing to promise for 2016?

C. What requests do you need to make to get started on fulfilling your promises and your vision?

New Brochure!

Nov 13, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

We just published our new brochure! If you visited one of our booths at Information Development World 2015 or LavaCon 2015 you’ve seen it already. Now everyone has access to the new brochure online.

Here are links to the front and back view and the inside view:
– Front and back view
– Contents view

View our other marketing documents, including articles and case studies, here.

Creating a Customer-Centric Information Architecture

Aug 25, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy, How-To, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

How much difficulty do your customers have accessing your documentation and finding the exact information they need? You can improve findability, and increase customer satisfaction, with a well-designed information architecture. Information architecture is defined as:

“The art and science of structuring information (knowledge) to support findability and usability.”
— Cluadia Wunder, The Language of Content Strategy

Why is information architecture important? Because most people would rather find the information they need themselves than contact Customer Support. By improving findability, you are creating a win-win situation: Happier customers and reduced customer support costs!

In the age of instant information access, people have less patience, and may not be willing to work to find what they need.

Creating a complete customer-centric information architecture requires a thorough analysis of your content, and results in a comprehensive model that guides the organization and delivery of your content. You can get started on improving findability by implementing a few key approaches:

  • Clear topic titles that follow consistent rules help people find what they need. Even if you are still using a book paradigm, how you name your chapters and sections can make a big difference. And those sections can all be put into a hyperlinked information database.
  • A rich, varied structure of links between topics supports people who need specific information and people who want to learn more broadly.
  • The ability to find the information in your topics via searching, ideally by using a popular search engine, is crucial. If your information is only available in PDFs, this won’t work well.
  • Indexing that isn’t limited to your feature-naming scheme. A good index includes words that people unfamiliar with your product might use to describe product functions. For example, if you consistently say “power off” in your content, your index should list power off, turn off, shut down, and anything else you can imagine. To provide the best possible assistance to your users, you need to follow different rules in your index than in the rest of your content.

Do you have a customer-centric information architecture? What approaches are you using to improve findability and usability? We’re interested in your thoughts and experiences.

Are you considering outsourcing content development? Do you need some help planning your information architecture or your content strategy?
Saiff Solutions, Inc. can help you develop a strategy to succeed. Contact us if you’d like to talk:
barrysaiff AT saiffsolutions DOT com

My Thoughts On Our New Office

Jul 13, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Outsourcing, Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

My name is Gaile, and I have been working as a writer here at Saiff Solutions since April 2014. We’ve learned a great deal from the various projects we’ve completed.

Gaile7-7-2015

To write well, we need a place without loud noise. Our old office had a lot of road noise. We spent one wonderful year in our old office, and I can say that the old office served us well. We were able to build extraordinary working relationships. We developed new skills and discovered incredible things. We had our share of ups and downs, which didn’t prevent us from enriching our skills. Everything can be learned if we just try. In fact, I am calling the old office “my training ground.” As our team is growing, a new, more comfortable office is just what we need!

We moved to the new office two weeks ago, and everybody was excited to be working in a new, bright environment. I was delighted and grateful when I first walked into the office. We no longer have to deal with excessive vehicle noise, and the smell of burnt rubber any more. (There was an automobile hose shop next to our old office.)

Our new office is very accessible. There is less traffic, and we are on the second floor, set back quite far from the road. This location is much better for writing. The brand new 2-storey building is surrounded with trees and tall grass. We like our warm, friendly neighbors who work at the salon next door. The tile flooring is quite shiny and the walls are painted white. We have a land line phone and a faster Internet connection. Overall, the new office is a great place to work in.

For me, every day is a new beginning, a new challenge, a new adventure. Spending the day working in an inviting, comfortable office is rewarding.

The Saiff Solutions family is stronger than ever!

See our new office!

– Gaile

Check Out Our New Office for Technical Writing In the Philippines!

Jul 8, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

 

Technical Writing in the Philippines Just Got Serious…

June 15, 2015 marks the day Saiff Solutions claimed its new writing pad in Tagaytay, Philippines. And we’re loving it here!

As part of a shared building, this office runs roughly 33 square meters and provides just what we need to deliver technical writing in the Philippines. See what our Technical Writer Gaile thinks of our new office.

This think tank allows our talented content development team to deliver the best value in technical writing for our clients. And we’re excited at filling our office with more global talent, as we are expanding!

Have a look at our office in the pictures below:


Croydon1_n

Click on a thumbnail to expand

As you can see, we are still organizing things and settling in. Meet the Board of Directors.

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Saiff Solutions In The Media

- TechWhirl
- Nominated for 2015 Rice Bowl Asean Start Up

Click image to enlarge

Testimonials

“Barry [Saiff] is one of those people that every company needs. He is a very efficient and productive member of any team and on top of that ensures that others feel a member of the team also. Whilst at Brightmail I got to know Barry as he was the organizer for our local toastmasters group. His energy and enthusiam encouraged this collection of diverse people to create a wonderful group experience. I would recommend Barry for any position that required trust, loyalty and a great sense of humor.”

Raj Rana
Sr Systems Engineer, Brightmail
December 27, 2010

Read more testimonials here.