Create a relationship of trust from the beginning.
I wrote my Master's on the benefit of doubt. In criminal trial, actually. I read Aquinas in Latin about interpreting things in people's favour. I have always been trusting to the point of foolish naïveté despite being one of the sharpest knives in the drawer otherwise. I even trusted beautiful shesquires until I learnt better. And yet, I can't really see translation agencies as the most trust-inspiring potential partners around, you know.
The beginning whereof you speak is when I'm asked to provide my best rate, or competitive rate, at any rate a flat rate that's gonna forever apply across the board (unless there's a budget, and we both know what this means) unlike the wonderful surcharges the end clients pay for stuff like tight deadlines, specialist subjects, illegible sources and brilliant translators.
Can you yourself do the job well or not?
You don't mean the full TEP+DTP, do you?
You need to tell me the truth of what's going on with the project, any questions you may have,
For that, I need a PM who isn't playing the please-the-client-with-reading-his-mind game.
and if anything goes less than perfect, let's work together to try and make it better.
I can't really recall being paid a perfect rate, but anyway. My job is not delivering perfect shiny little end products. My job, unless I'm copywriting or transcreating, is to translate whatever originals I receive. My job is not to make the authors look better.
Don't lie to me
All right, the PM is thinking that, not talking. I need to put down my scalping knife.
and tell me that you can do a job when you're lying in a hammock in the middle of the Bahamas
I'd actually be more productive in a hammock in the middle of the Bahamas than chained to my desk around 3 a.m. after 20 hours of the same, feeling the ferrous taste of haemoglobin in my mouth and thinking that's okay, it's only 12 more hours and 12 more coffees to go. I need to get married, build a house, well, I need to pay taxes and health insurance first.
And you don't want to know in what state I've translated without making a single typo.
or put one of your substandard colleagues on the project instead of you.
You mean the punks who get job after my free sample lands it?
That creates mistrust and makes me think you’re only in this for the money,
Okay, there was I, the proud author of Zombie Contracts 101, thinking that nothing can surprise me from a translation agency any more... the only thing worse is having to admit I was wrong.
which by the way cannot be hidden once we do the Quality Assurance step…
I'm confused. Did you mean the native speaker who could use proofing by me more than the other way round or the girl who's just graduated Leftist LatAm Writer Studies and thinks she has the right to 'fix' my whereases and wherefores after reading 'Contracts for Dummies'?
On the other hand, if you do a great job, you'll not only get paid
'Only!' Fortunately, I practically always get paid and usually on time. That probably has nothing to do whatsoever with the number of references to litigation in my CV. Or that rumour about those huge copyright damages rumour my friend spread one day claiming I wouldn't even bother with a debt suit.
for the first job, but you'll get repeat work from me, and probably lots of it...
You know, with some agencies that's actually the part I begin to hear. I'd sure as heck appreciate a thick stream of good jobs, but many of those 'key clients' where there's a metric ton of reference materials to study in my free time, a reminder of higher than normal quality being required, immediately followed by the very familiar request for a lower than normal rate. Friday to Monday deadline. What rush fee?
Respond quickly to job offerings.
I usually do, but I really can't be concentrating on that key client's overnight translation of a 5K-word glossy marketing brochure (or an equally precious and equally urgent filing) and monitoring my inbox at the same time.
The saying, “The early bird gets the worm" is so true.
Or a whole can sometimes!
If you need to, invest in a mobile device that allows you to communicate quickly.
I invested in one with aeroplane mode instead.
Then be communicative throughout the project until the end.
And when would I uhm... translate?
Please, don’t leave me hanging in the middle of a project wondering whether you’ve either been checked into the hospital or your private jet has been hijacked to the middle of some unnamed island that’s not even on the world or local map. Which leads me to my next point…
Hospital? I've bled on my keyboard to keep typing for you.
Speaking of private jets, the other PM accidentally sent me the end client itemised settlement yesterday along with your Q4 profit forecast. Would you help me 'fuzzy matches' there... or that 'translator overtime' position on my own?
But I'm glad you really think I'm making all that cash which neither you nor any other agency is paying me. At least I get to keep some dignity.
3) Communicate! Though an email, a phone call, a public computer, text message, mobile device, through someone else or smoke signals if necessary. As long as you can breathe, you can communicate somehow to me and let me know what’s going on with the project I've entrusted to you.
It's going on well. Doctor Daniels, whom I consulted out of my own pocket, has brought in some interesting insights about your key client's ideal corporate voice. Is this what you wanted to hear?
I as a PM cannot fathom how you can just disappear off the face of the earth, unless you really did get sucked into the inner bowels of the earth, due to some natural disaster, i.e., an unforeseen circumstance has truly happened, which does happen once in a blue moon anyway, and those circumstances do happen. I just hope it doesn't happen while you're committed to one of my projects!
Don't worry, I remember that not even death releases me from your standard contract.
(I'm not gonna write reports. Or do the same via phone. Sorry. It just ain't gonna happen. Unless that new redhead secretary asks. The 5th new one this year.)
4) Make me remember you,
I'm pretty sure you would.
but for good things.
Umm... yeah. The fuzzies the client never heard about, the rush fees I never heard about, and the free samples that brought so much work for the inhouse staff. My nickname round the office is 'the Sponsor'. Don't act like you don't know I know you know.
I've worked with so many people over the years,
Oh yes, and I've talked to a good deal of them. You don't even know what I know...
5) Be a flexible team player.
I'm a translator, not team player. Unless it's Starcraft 2 Team League. But I can't advance to the next league when I'm so tired after working. Which means we need to raise my rates or I'll need to play my league matches first and then do those jobs.
We aren't always given the best budgets or deadlines to work with,
Oh yes, 10% of the workload doesn't fall under that very exceptional category.
We need people who can understand our clients’ needs.
I understand your clients' needs. The first one is: more words, faster, for less. And the second one: follow their wishes to the letter (and guess the ones that weren't stated) but at the same time certify, on paper with my signature, and under unlimited liability, that the translation is true and faithful and correct and good style to the best of my knowledge. Easy.
On the other hand, when better budgets are given to us, we'll be glad to pass that onto
You mean restore my standard best rates?
choose to reward you with a higher rate whenever possible.
Once upon a time I saw an unexpected 20% bonus, ordered by the end-client himself, over the 'best rate' when a complicated construction study was due the same evening, but anything more I'll believe when I see it.
When things go wrong, as they will at times, admit when you were wrong and the work wasn’t up to standard.
Oh yes, because the end client's cleaning lady who did the QA said so.
This shows a PM maturity and responsibility on your part
Oh yeah, especially when I admit error that does not exist.
(I'd fire a translator for even thinking about doing that and lodge a complaint with the ethics board of whatever association he belonged to.)
and demonstrates that you care about the quality of the work you’re delivering,
You mean client satisfaction?
Ask them for the reviewed file, so you can check it yourself.
I always do. I decided not to, ever again, for health reasons, but then I decided I had to look at it every single time just so you guys don't sink yourselves or the client.
You don’t prove anything to a PM by arguing that you were right
That much I know.
and the work was in good shape, when it wasn’t…
And the PM knows that, with two years of an Associate's degree in Management and some high-school Spanish.
Help me resolve what’s not going right. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
I'm not part of your client.
7) Be nice and don’t forget your manners.
How could I? I lament the passing of manners almost every single time I get mail from a new translation agency inquiring about my services. And on a good deal of other occasions. How could I forget.
This is something I shouldn’t have to tell you, but as the world is getting more and more competitive and resources of all kind (food, money, oil, etc.) are getting scarcer, I cannot emphasize this enough.
Food, money, oil, translators?
Be grateful for the work you get, and thank the people who give you work. After all, those people are our treasures and a means to make our dreams come true. They deserve to be treated well and yes, loved and pampered
I kinda prefer the 'Respected Sir, if you could please,' that I'm getting from the lower paying markets, to be honest. I'm not only in it for the money, you know.
This means thanking the person who gives you work,
Unlike a good deal of the agency crowd, I do remember my manners. But I also remember something about 'partners', 'collaboration', 'two parties to a contract', uhm....
offering your services from time to time by saying you’re available
'Hi, guys. I'm available. This means I don't have any other jobs right now. This would be a good time to request a special discount from my best rate.'
and offering new services that can be in demand,
My services are: translation.
and saying thank you for the payment. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Yes folks, this gesture can go a long way, believe me.
The contract certainly makes my getting paid look like a discretionary privilege that imposes no obligation on the paying party.
9) Be ethical and don’t contact or steal my clients. As a linguist, you are often entrusted with confidential or sensitive information. Do not betray this trust. Sooner or later, this will come back to haunt you. The Golden Rule: Do unto others what you'd have them do until you. and the reverse, Don't do unto others what you don’t want them to do until you. Enough said…
What sort of punks have you been working with? Could the rates offered have anything to do with that, by chance?
10) Find humor while doing work.
I do all the time. It's usually connected with the grammar and syntax of the English source texts. I always ending up needing to share it with Doctor Daniels, eventually.
Just this last weekend, while working on a very large rush job,
What was the rush fee?
These are ways that I encourage my people to keep doing a good job and that also make them want to keep working with me while making a normally stressful job a bit more enjoyable…
Well, that's nice, but it doesn't really make up for being asked to do those big rush jobs all the time without any rush fees.
[Edited at 2013-10-04 01:57 GMT]