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Thread: Editing and your work

  1. #1
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Editing and your work

    Not sure if this is teh right place to post this question, but here goes.

    I work in a very hierarchial organization, all of my reports have to go from me, to a sr planner to a manager to a director to a commisioner, with each person requesting edits be made along the way. Also in the process, others are involved who may request changes. At what point is it accpetable to say, no I won't make any more changes this is how the report is supposed to read?

    Also, for other s that work in a hierarchial system, who makes teh edits. in today digital world, it makes little sense to me that people actually redline your work for minor revisons when it would be just as easy for them to make the chages they want. As an example, I was requested to write a memo for my commisioner, that he changed and changed and changed. it would have been easier and faster for the two of us to just have me rough out the facts/dates/concepts and let him fill in the meet and put the political spin on it. Instead, I wrote it, he editted it, I reworked it, he reeditted, it in some cases putting back in things he took out, then I reworked it. This went on for 5 hours, with him continually calling me over to rework sections.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Welcome to my nightmare. I love it when someone who does not know what you do is able to edit your work and turns it into something that makes it look like you violate every federal mandate known to man, it gets inserted into the agenda packet that way, and you don't find out about it until you get your copy (usually after it is mailed out).
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I remember having people check my work like this and it seems like it's a pain, but I guess now I can put in the manager's spin on it -

    first, remember, your manager is responsible for everything you say, do, or write, whether it's correct or incorrect

    second, by doing hard copy red-lining, they are trying to get you to understand what and why something got changed so in the future, you will learn the office spin methods, to be frank - if they just changed it electronically, then you'd never understand the changes

    don't be afraid to go over the why's of the change with a superior in an effort to understand - and if the change is for their style, it's okay to say "well, that's just a style difference and not a substantive difference, right?"

    even as a department head, when I am working on a sensitive document, I make my town manager check it before it goes out - because of #1 above and out of respect for his knowledge of sensitive issues

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I am glad I only have to have my reports edited by the Deputy Director. One person and that's it.

    Sounds like you management system was created in the Dark Ages, and they don't realize that it is 2006 and you are a very experienced and educated planner.

    If this is the system they want, then they need to hire people straight out of high school, train them on the job, pay them a third less, then the system won't be questioned.

    Also, you should say 'no' the moment the highest person on the heirarchy contradicts themselves when requesting changes.

    I feel for you.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    What's worst is when someone edits your writing and adds bad writing, bad grammar. This happened to me at my last job and I'd have to go to the person and explain why it was grammatically incorrect. What hypocracsy to 'correct' my work with bad, incorrect grammar.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    In my first planning job the planning director had her secretary proofread all staff reports. This led to some interesting exchanges between the secretary and I. She would make some change, citing the page of the business style book. Then I would point out that on another page said I was right, and so it went back and forth. It was always good-natured. She was a strict constructionist, while I was more interested in readability.

    My current boss makes changes to my work as well. They really usually are suggestions. I can accept or reject them. As a matter of course about half the time I will take his suggestion, because it a minor thing and it generates good will. But if I am sure I am right, then I stick to my original text.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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  7. #7
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian
    ... by doing hard copy red-lining, they are trying to get you to understand what and why something got changed so in the future, you will learn the office spin methods, to be frank - if they just changed it electronically, then you'd never understand the changes
    As an option, the person reviewing the document could use the "insert comments" and "track changes" features in MS Word. We often do the review that way.

    Per CosmicMojo's comment, I can then "reject" the bad grammar that's been inserted...

  8. #8
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess
    As an option, the person reviewing the document could use the "insert comments" and "track changes" features in MS Word. We often do the review that way.

    Per CosmicMojo's comment, I can then "reject" the bad grammar that's been inserted...
    yes, I do that with my assistant and with my boss -

    in re-reading donk's post, i will add that the chain of reviewers is kinda lengthy - I would think it could be shortened, unless you are doing something heavy like locating a nuclear power plant or a jail or something - lol/smirk

  9. #9
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    sounds similar in a lot of respects to my current situation. I was definately used to being accountable for my own work and am now in a situation where certain documents are reviewed by 4 or 5 people -all of whom make editing changes often based only on personal style. quite the headache

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Mtn Woman's avatar
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    I've been in the position where both a senior planner & the director would edit & re-edit. I'd make changes, be told to have the other check it over, and then have the two of them re-editing the same phrases over & over again. Each time they would change it back to their original phrasing. I would end up calling the two together & tell them I didn't like either one's editing & that they would have to duke it out. Winner takes all - in editing terms that is....
    Living and dreaming are two different things-but you can't do one without the other."
    -Malcolm Forbes

  11. #11
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    donk - that would drive me NUTS! I couldn't handle that. What a friggin' waste of time. I'm lucky that my boss loves everything I write, and I sometimes correct his work. But, it may be a different kind of writing than what you are involved with - not much of mine goes into the public arena. I'm afraid I would react very badly in your situation and ask why waste my time writing something in the first place if it's going to be re-written by several other people. What happened to delegated authority? Perhaps you could suggest that you come to some agreement about which types of material need to be checked by whom, and maybe save time on the more minor ones?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Thanks for the comments.

    I agree, that in some instances, making corrections ones self is helpful in improving style and learning formats and syntaxes, however it is really annoying when you are told to make revisons then told to revise the revisions.

    What has annoyed me most is that when I ask for comments, all I get is edits. When I ask for comments I am asking for comments on the ideas, and maybe minor revisons to match departmental formatting (still learning that), not on the choice of words (ie the funds collected are to be used for... vs the use of collected funds for....)

    I am trying to hold my tongue, and have for the most part, but at a certain point it just get really annoying. It is also annoying that I am expected to be able to produce documents in the City's format, especially huge reports whenI have not been groomed to do that. In the past month I have written 4 reports totalling nearly 300 pages (including edits), yet before this time I had only written a grand total of maybe 100 pages in the past year.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  13. #13
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    I agree, it's counterproductive when they over-revise when you really wanted some comments about the overall content, not nit-picking changing words.

    I think it's good to have a meeting before you start writing where you ask your supervisor to let you know what main points he wants to communicate with this documents. In response, you can propose a rough outline/content. That way you don't get too much work invested before your boss says that isn't what he wanted at all. (Happened to me a lot at my last job.)

    And quadruple check your work for typos so that when someone reviews it, he can't focus on any typos. And be specific about what you want out of a review when you give it to them: "would you check the content and make sure we haven't left out any of the points you want to make."

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have both edited and been edited. Frankly, I don't mind another pair of eyes looking over my work and offering suggestions. I note that at times I can say things which other people may take harshly. (I.e., "there appears to be no coherent leasing strategy for the mall...") Somebody else might phrase it differently so as to not offend the incompetent mall owners. When I edit I do look at grammar and I do make frequent changes. On substantive matters I tend to offer more suggestions, like "what do you think if we..." or "would it be alright to say...." I think professional staff deserve that. It becomes collaborative rather than top-down.
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    There is nothing wrong with editing and I think it makes us all sharper and more keen as to what our reports are actually saying.

    A former boss of mine was a notorious editor and was a very picky person about how things looked and sounded. At first it annoyed the hell out of me, but now I look back and I think it made me more professional and taught me that even the tiniest details can make or break what you are trying to say.

    That being said...Donk's "chain of command" seems ridiculously long.
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    I don't have to submit anything to anyone I do however, send my reports to the engineer and secretary for them to proofread for content and grammar/spelling errors.

    I write pretty well, and spend a lot of time to make sure it is accurate and readable. I proof a lot of stuff from another coworker because she doesn't write so well, and hurries up to get done resulting in many errors.

    I think it could be a great way to learn how to better communicate, but I think it would also be irritating. People have different writing styles, and I don't know if it is fair to make someone change unless it is unprofessional or contains inaccurate info.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
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    Reports

    Well check this out. I just recently finished a report with some minor edits here and there from both my manager and the president of my organization within the last week. Then I received an e-mail from the president saying that my report was incoherent. SO how do you figure after they read the report and was asked to make changes. That's something that peeves me off. I figure it's the nature of work and having to deal with difficult management. At the same time, nice way to get feedback on the 1st report you write.
    Last edited by andreplanner; 29 Mar 2006 at 2:56 PM.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by andreplanner
    Then I received an e-mail from the president saying that my report was incoherent.
    I'm not at all surprised, considering GWB is a bit of a daddy's boy (Jethro comes to mind). Wow getting to advise the President. How cool is that? And you're Canadian, is this like the port scandal?
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  19. #19
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    I'm not at all surprised, considering GWB is a bit of a daddy's boy (Jethro comes to mind). Wow getting to advise the President. How cool is that? And you're Canadian, is this like the port scandal?
    Very funny!!!!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by andreplanner
    Well check this out. I just recently finished a report with some minor edits here and there from both my manager and the president within the last week. Then I received an e-mail from the president saying that my report was incoherent. SO how do you figure after they read the report and was asked to make changes. That's something that peeves me off. I figure it's the nature of work and having to deal with difficult management. At the same time, nice way to get feedback on the 1st report you write.
    I've been there and can sympathize. I had a boss who claimed to have written a report of mine, at least up until the point where the council members began insisting that their own unrelated pet projects all be included. Then it was mine, it had a lot of holes, and had to be sent back for revisions. (The guy was short enough he did not need knee pads.)
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    It just got worse today.

    I prepared a report, that was signed off and sent to council in December. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the item was tabled and additonal information requested. I just got that same report back, with the requested information added, and there are changes and edits to things that were approved by managment 6 months ago. Note the requested edits did not impact 95% of the report. This is where the culture or revision has gone too far.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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