The Writing on the Wall

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Question: During my last performance review, my manager told me that no one reads my documentation, that it’s just an annoying check box for regulatory compliance. I know people do use it, because they ask me where to find it and sometimes they re-use the content. Am I wasting my time?

Answer:
Yes.

First, it’s a waste of time dwelling on your manager’s tactless remarks. Just because he’s your manager doesn’t mean he’s infallible. People DO read the documentation, often people you’ve never heard of, but who can sometimes have a big influence on the project. The consequences of bad or missing documentation are all felt in hindsight.

Second, and far more serious is the fact that your own manager is openly devaluing your contributions. There is nothing worse than hearing that your work doesn’t matter. You should ask yourself if this is true.

Third, you have lost the sense of collective mission of your company. If the company mission requires regulatory compliance, and you are not willing to do your part, then you should ask yourself why personal recognition is so important to you. Is it flattery you want, or simply to know that your efforts are making a difference?

It should be obvious that recognition of your talents and contribution is essential to career growth, but beyond that, I think it’s vitally important to feel respected by your colleagues. Plus, your manager controls your salary review, so yes, it’s not out of line for you to want that respect from him as well.

If they say, “Oh we respect YOU, it’s just that nobody cares what you do,” I wouldn’t buy it. If your work is not obviously contributing to the company’s success, you’ll shrink down to the size of a bitter, dried-up pea.

Vote with your feet. That’s what they’re for.

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