The Boss hates your document! How to fix it

You've spent the last month as a contract worker struggling with a tedious user manual. Finally, you create the PDF, hand it over for delivery, and head home with a feeling of satisfaction. But... to your horror and surprise, you find it sitting on your desk the next morning covered in red ink and a note from your boss.

What do you do?

First, don't panic. This often happens as a result of miscommunication, and can be cleared up without too much trouble. Technical writing requires a bit of political savvy, and now is the time to leverage your interpersonal communication skills. (Or, if you've joined the dark side, some shady tactics for tricky office situations. But once you go down that path, you can never return... Bwah hah hah!) Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes...

Bury your feelings of resentment, take a short walk, and then read through the comments. Are they sensible and straight forward? If so, incorporate the changes and redeliver the manual. If not, ask the boss for a meeting.

During the meeting, talk about what exactly when wrong. If there are major problems with the scope of the manual, be sure to get a clear sense of what needs to be changed before you leave the meeting. That way you can address those issues and produce a user guide that is closer to the mark. You don't want to end up in the same situation a second time.

If you disagree with the changes, don't be disgruntled. It's a job, and your boss has the final say. Finish the job and move on.

You may find that there is some doubt about the value of the manual. If you sense this is true, bring the issue up for discussion, but do it in an objective manner. Don't take it personally. Take some consolation from the fact that you did your best, whether the manual is shipped or not. Your job is important.

If the revisions requested by your boss will require further communication with SMEs, be sure to explain the situation to those SMEs openly. Ask them for a bit more time, and be flexible, because they are probably working under deadlines just as you are. A spirit of cooperation will help you get through the job.

Just keep moving forward and stay positive; you'll get through it. And when you finally finish the project you'll have an even greater sense of accomplishment and relief.