Jumping through hoops

I apologize in advance for the rant!

Lately, I’ve become somewhat sick and tired of my job. Or, at the very least, pretty frustrated by certain things. One of them being, using up my training budget.

We have a generous amount, I have to admit, and if you use up less than half of it, you don’t have to sign any additional paperwork. Fair.

Now, for technical authors there are only a handful of courses one can take online, since I don’t live near any live-held courses. I already covered (with flying colors!) my basics in online courses. And I’d LOVE to attend courses or conferences held in London, Paris, Sofia or elsewhere around the World, but those would be way too expensive if I factor in travel expenses – so I don’t choose those.

I e-mailed my direct supervisor earlier this month with a list of books I’d like to order to replace training events (conference, course, etc.), and after sending him a chase, he replied he was happy with my choices given I was well within the training budget.

Then, however, the manager stepped in.
She said she’s happy to approve books “as I read them, one book at a time”.
I get what she means, but, that means I’ll receive all the books I need today, in six months time or by the end of this year if we go by her approval-plan.

It also feels a little insulting, as for a training course/event/conference where I might learn a lot less than say, from five-to-thirteen books, the company would pay in full. And so they do for any other employee opting for a training course or the alike.
From what I recall the manager saying in a company meeting at the end of last December, not even a third of the training budget was used by employees last year.
So, naturally, I feel somehow penalized for wanting to use mine up in one go, one month rather than in a year – just because I can learn a lot more from books than I have the opportunity to learn in too-few events organized in my chosen field.

Because I need to produce a variety of documents and content type, I originally built my list with that exact thing in mind. At the manager’s initial request to not order all of them at once, I narrowed it down to four books, which would be most helpful to me for the moment:

A style-book for the different styles I need to use, and because it also has a part about media law – and I use media components in blog posts, etc. on our company website.
Two technical communication books which would help enhance my knowledge about both traditional technical authoring and the content writing I am currently doing which is more reader-centered than technical. Truth is they can be a dry read and 600-700 pages long, so I would switch between reading them and shorter works. They would, however, be nice to have near me to be able to look up information in as I need it rather than turning to the web for a hundred different thoughts on the same dilemma. For example, when I struggle with figuring out what guidelines to follow for different pieces or how to adapt some forms of work to fit other categories.
And an editorial calendar workbook which would help with the tasks I am currently dealing with on a daily basis, especially as I currently need to produce a huge load of documents in a very short period of time. It would provide a way to break down all my ideas into workable chunks and even get a better sense of how the content I produce can be used cross-promoted in our marketing plan – something I am not familiar with as I have never dealt with marketing before in my life.

The manager’s reply? Here’s the direct quote:
“Ordering 13, 5 or even 3 books at a time, considering their length (624 – 704 pages each), is not aligned with my request. I don’t understand why you are in a hurry to order all those books. The primary objective of the training budget is not to have it spent in a financial year, it is to make sure it supports employees’ professional development in the right way. This is NOT about the amounts, it’s about the PRINCIPLE.”

In the past when I ordered the same amount of books (five plus) for roughly the same amount of money, I found no difficulties in them being approved together, which is why I didn’t see an issue with asking for more than one at a time this year.

I didn’t build my list just for the sake of asking for books. I buy leisure books on my own – and these are definitely not my choice of “for fun” reading.
Also I didn’t think “which ones are the longest?” and list those. Of my full list, only three of the books are past 500 pages, and they happen to be among the four which I would most benefit from in the beginning.

All the books from my original list (and so, implicitly, the broken down few-item list) were chosen because I honestly feel they would help me in my professional development.

Yet, I need to jump through hoops before receiving them. One. At. A. Time.

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2 Comments to “Jumping through hoops”

  1. Hope it all works out for you.. sometimes by surrendering, things turn out… and then again…

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