…and I’ve never felt dumber.
My current job was more or less created for me – in the sense that I interviewed for an entry internship just to manage basic content and social media platforms for my company, and have slowly evolved into a part time overall media resources manager, website content creator, basic user-end SEO, social media manager, and just dabbling in online marketing. I’m not saying that I don’t love the challenge, but it is decidedly outside of my skill-set as bestowed upon me by my education. There were a lot, and I mean a lot, that I learned on the job, testing and failing and trying again.
Now, I’m writing a Training Manual for the next lucky person to work with my amazing company. No, I’m not brown-nosing; these are folks who took a graduate as face value and didn’t beat around the bush about what they expected, but also understood that I had to slowly build my way up. They paid me for my work, rather than take advantage of an unemployed intern. They continuously give me support and inquire if there is more than can do to help me. I am writing this Training Manual not because I’m about to be out of a job, but because I also want to reflect upon the progress I’ve made so far. And also because eventually, someone will need to pick up where I’ll be leaving off.
And, yeah, I’ve never felt dumber.
There is something finite about putting down everything your job entails as a list of steps and suggestions. I’m writing the training manual as if it was for the intern me, but it’s becoming obvious that all these months of accumulated knowledge are stacking up to less than a few dozen screen shots and several three-step instructions. Many of them, I feel, are complete common sense. Of course, I feel like they’re common sense because I’ve been doing it for the last year and half – one time when I was away, someone in the office effectively deleted an entire page’s gallery of images while trying to upload just one extra photo. It turns out that I am the only one who is familiar enough with our website’s content system to upload photos. So I’m writing a manual so that I don’t have to tell them how easy it is to drag and drop an image into an upload dialogue box.
But I digress.
The first problem I encountered was the issue of how. How the hell do I write a manual? Every instruction I’d been given when I started, and every skill I learned along the way, were either delivered verbally, via an outdated and heavily erroneous instruction booklet (yep, there is one already, but it has so many scribbles and corrections that I might as well start from scratch), or by trial-and-error. I’m not really the type to be able to neatly organize a lot of jumbled information into a coherent and useful structure. I’m much more the creative type who comes up with small bursts of prose and ingenious hashtags. I had to Google the solution.
So then I encountered a training manual for writing training manuals. It was horrific. It began with something about ‘identifying your audience’, ‘knowing your goals’, and ‘creating a structure that builds towards the goal’. I thought, “dear God, do I have to be this condescending on my manual? Do I have to use this many Clip Arts?”
After several more minutes trying to find a template that spells out how I should structure my thoughts, I realized, “What I want in a training manual is the goddamn answer. I just want a piece of reassurance for even the simplest of problems I might encounter, like forgetting a password, or how big I should be making an image. Who cares what order it’s in, as long as it’s grouped together properly? There’s always Ctrl+F, right?”
I’m sure I’ll come to regret that decision in the near future, but for now, I’m writing a manual that includes everything from the company’s Instagram account password, to how big the photo for a blog post’s main image needs to be. I’ll be sure to include exactly which buttons will add images to a gallery, and which ones will delete the whole page.
The best part? I’m doing it all with puppy photos as placeholders – because eventually, some poor sucker is going to have to read this.
Maybe someone should write that lady a training manual for writing training manuals for training manuals.