Tag Archives: role

The distant project manager

Quick, translators! Name your favorite project manager from one of your clients.

What? No favorites? Okay, how about naming the PM that treated you most favorably. Take your time.

Over the years, I have worked with a variety of project managers (PMs) in the language services industry, from the asinine to the eager. I don’t have a favorite PM, but I do have favorite traits that I seek in the PMs I have the opportunity to work with. Since I hate lists, you’ll have to deal with just a small bunch of brief descriptions.

1. Approachability. This means grabbing the phone to talk to your translator or editor, not just shooting emails. In the current sea of email messages, a phone call or an invitation to call you is a welcome respite and it helps to build rapport, trust…and exchange a jovial note that could make a difference in your otherwise busy day.

2. Full disclosure. An element generally related to NDAs and confidentiality of information, this is more an attitude than a check mark or obligatory note. It means that you will disclose (ie, answer and volunteer) all necessary information to your translator or language professional. This may require anticipating the needs of your translator, not just talking about word count and deadlines. Take an interest in the finer details, such as “The document is targeting young Puerto Ricans. Can you do that?” instead of “This document needs a US Spanish translation.”

3. Availability. Some of you must be using a macro to print this phrase at the end of your emails: “If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to write or call.” Seriously, how many of you are quick to answer your emails, especially with project-related questions? I wonder if some PM might think: “Gee, this is a dumb question. This translator should read the instructions file I attached to the first email!” And you would be right. However, part of good customer service in any industry is the availability to answer any questions cheerfully and promptly.

4. Don’t ignore our questions. Sometimes we translators ask silly, dumb and risky questions. Sometimes we need to be put in our place because, well, some of us are just getting started in this profession and we don’t know all the boundaries. A risky or nosy question for me –as a translator– would be “Is the editor who is going to work with me a properly trained translator?” That question may be obnoxious and provocative in tone. Think for a second, however, that it just might be a request for information, not an indictment on your company’s screening procedures. If you choose to ignore our questions, we’ll keep asking them until satisfied.

5. Respect our role. We are thankful that you chose us to do this project. You sure have a good taste in translators! However, please, please do not second guess our work. We are trained professionals, we do the research, we know why we chose this particular word over that one. We appreciate that you know some Danish or Spanish but do not try to play translator with us. I personally don’t like to pull university degrees with my PMs simply because it’s gauche and just the wrong approach. I had to do it only once, however, in the past 5 years, because the PM insisted on second guessing his client and telling me how to write a certain passage in the translation. To the PMs out there who are nervously fretting over what the translator might or might write, remember: you chose us to do the translation, please do not micromanage us.

Now, I’ll do some crossover. If you liked the above content, I am sure you will appreciate the blog postings of a company owner who works with translators, Grace Bosworth, at http://global2localcommunications.com/category/blog/


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Filed under Customer relationship, Customers, Project Management, Project Manager