The Secret Sauce for Building Cohesive Teams

Though it may seem paradoxical since many of us work independently, teamwork is a critical component of a freelance translator or interpreter’s professional life. Introverts and extroverts alike need collaboration and interaction in order to thrive, and oftentimes quality necessitates working together to resolve questions and agree on solutions. Whether you’re volunteering on a committee, working with a team of translators and editors on a big project, or joining forces in the interpreting booth, cohesive teamwork enhances and enriches your efforts.

Here at The Savvy Newcomer, we have learned the value of cooperation and collaboration time and time again as we work together to bring you content on a weekly basis. No team is perfect, but we’ve worked out quite the recipe for cohesiveness as we have been growing and stretching as a team since 2013. Starting with a team of three translators who barely knew each other and had no idea what platform we would be creating, Savvy has grown to include eight members that coordinate both a weekly blog and two conference sessions. Read on to learn more about what we’ve concocted!

Ingredients

1 core team of 2-3 dedicated individuals who share a common goal

  • Each teammate should have a role to play. Know your strengths but also be willing to back each other up when needed.
  • Add more people to the mix as you need additional support; integrate slowly, making sure they know they are valuable to the team and have an important role to play in your group’s success.
  • Sometimes teammates don’t work out; be willing to have frank conversations with teammates who can’t commit to working with you or whose work doesn’t line up with your team’s objectives.

2 people trained and prepared to take on each task

  • It’s inevitable that teammates will need breaks or go on vacation or take leaves of absence, because life happens. Make sure that no one person on your team holds all the knowledge about critical processes.
  • Keep SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) so that it’s easier for someone else to take over when one person needs a break. Update these on a regular basis, or every time your process changes.

1 communication method that suits your team

  • Agree on a platform that everyone can communicate through, whether it be email, Slack, or a listserv. Keep communication clear and concise but friendly; business colleagues can talk about everyday stuff, not just business!
  • Share ideas openly; make it clear that your team is a safe place to springboard ideas and build confidence.

1 file sharing method that suits your team

  • Whether it’s Dropbox or Google Drive, make sure everyone on the team can access the documents they need in order to pull their own weight. If one person can’t get to the SOPs, they can’t be helpful even if they want to!
  • It’s also important for your file structure to be well-organized; when new members join the team they shouldn’t have to take a crash course in how your folder system works. It should be intuitive and logical so that people can get up to speed quickly when they pick up tasks for other team members.

Instructions

These ingredients aren’t foolproof, but hard work and good camaraderie are a good combination so we believe you’ll find that this mix will make for a viable team. Keeping commitments is critical to any team effort; make sure your teammates can count on you and vice versa. Be open to improvement and adaptation; your process may need some tweaking over time, and in particular you may need to do some adjusting as you get started. Lastly, be aware that sometimes you put together the perfect dream team and it just doesn’t work out—the timing might not be right, it might not be what your audience wants, or your dream team might not mix the way you thought it would. That’s okay! Take note of lessons learned and try again.

What types of teams are you a part of, readers? What is your team chemistry like? What unexpectedly worked or didn’t work?

The Savvy Newcomer Year in Review – 2017

The year 2017 has been another great one for The Savvy Newcomer, and we are glad you have been a part of it. We thought it would be nice to wrap up this year with a recap of what we have been up to with the blog in 2017 and what we are looking forward to in 2018. We hope you enjoy it!

As it has been since the blog’s inception in 2013, The Savvy Newcomer’s mission is to be “ATA’s blog for newbies to translation and interpreting.” To fulfill this mission, we have continued to post once weekly, generally with new content from our own team or guest authors, but also reblogs from other sources. By the end of 2017, we will have posted over 200 individual blog posts on The Savvy Newcomer during our four-plus years together!

Our blog team is comprised of eight members from a variety of countries and backgrounds, and we meet by conference call once per month to discuss upcoming topics and make plans for the blog. Over the years, we have seen the team grow from the founding members (Helen, Daniela, and Jamie) to include additional and vital support (Catherine, David, and Bianca). In 2017, we added two new members to the team: Emily Safrin and Flavia Lima. Both of them have made huge contributions to our efforts and they already feel like family!

The Savvy Newcomer continues to be active on social media, with a strong following on both Facebook and Twitter. We encourage reader interaction on these platforms and have enjoyed sharing the content of other individuals and institutions through these media as well. Our readership on both platforms is impressive, surpassing 700 Facebook followers and 1,400 Twitter followers during 2017.

In 2016, The Savvy Newcomer became part of ATA’s Business Practices Committee, further encouraging us to achieve our goals of providing relevant and useful content and resources to newcomers to the professions of translation and interpreting. We provide reports to the committee as needed, and ATA uses this committee to support us as we seek new and interesting ways to share with you, our readers.

 

We have had many excellent posts over the years, some of them reaching thousands of individual page views. The three most popular articles posted on The Savvy Newcomer during 2017 were:

  1. Study Resources for Translation Certification
  2. Questions to Ask Before You Accept a Translation Project
  3. Why Pairing up Is a Good Idea, Especially for Freelance Translators!

Readers, you are a diverse bunch! Our blog audience in 2017 came from an astounding 163 different countries. The top three largest audiences for our blog were in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Just as you may set resolutions for the New Year, we at The Savvy Newcomer have a few goals of our own for 2018:

  • Manage a better balance of translation- and interpreting-related posts
  • Come up with creative new ways to engage readers and encourage audience interaction
  • Reach even more followers who are interested in T&I around the world
  • Offer fun new ways for first-time attendees to connect at the annual ATA conference
  • Continue to post once a week and meet once a month

It’s your turn, readers! What do you want to see from The Savvy Newcomer in 2018? Do you have any questions we can answer in a blog post? Or perhaps you have a guest post in mind that you would like to write for us. Have you set any resolutions? We would love to hear them!

Image source: Pixabay

The Savvy Newcomer Resources page

It was a genius who said, “Never memorize something you can look up.” But as any good translator or interpreter knows, you have to know where to look it up as well! In this case, you’re in luck: The Savvy Newcomer has done the work for you with our Resources page. You can find the list, which contains links to what we consider to be some of the most useful resources on the web, in the tab titled “Resources” at the top of our blog. As the blog has grown, we have found that it is hard to get a glimpse of the full gamut of information it contains, so we wanted to have this way to share some of the tips and tricks we have found that make our lives a whole lot easier! Here is a glance at the content on the Resources page:

Journals, Newsletters, and Style Guides

Who doesn’t love a good style guide? We have compiled a list of just a few resources that may help as you make style decisions in your translations—some in English, some in Spanish. Know of a good style guide for another language? Let us know—we would love to include it!

Technology

The three resources listed under the Technology section are great not only for translators but for any computer user—they can even help you proofread general documents in Word.

Glossaries, Terminology, and Research

The resources in this section contain a wealth of information on terms and language use. They are especially helpful for subject-specific work and term research.

Education and Courses

Translators and interpreters alike can agree it is important to receive training. These resources will give you an idea of where to get started, whether you are looking into a certificate or a degree, interpreting or translation, local or distance learning.

Resources developed by ATA’s Certification Committee

The links in this section are a great starting point if you are considering taking the ATA Certification Exam; they will help you learn more about how the exam is developed, scored, and managed. The style guide and resource list are helpful not only for those preparing for the exam, but also for use in everyday translation work.

Advocacy Resources

The resource in this category is a link to ATA’s response to the Department of Homeland Security’s request for comments on its Language Access Plans. It is an interesting read as we look for ways to explain our credentials and advocate for our profession.

ATA Division Sites

This category contains links to all of ATA’s division websites. Take a look and see if any strike your fancy! ATA members can join an unlimited number of divisions for free and access division websites, forums, and newsletters on each particular subject matter or language.

As you may know, Savvy is always looking for more great content, and our Resources page is no exception—if you’d like to suggest a resource for us to include, send us an email at atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org.

Header image: Pixabay

Collaborating with Other Translators

Lund Translation Team by David Friedman

hand-523231_1280I wanted to find a way to collaborate closely with other translators ever since the early days of my translation career, because I thought it would open up more opportunities and would be more fun than going it alone.  This is the reason I have experimented with different forms of collaboration, strategies, methods and groups of people since 2011.

At first all we had was a group of four independent freelance translators with a joint website and monthly meetings to try to find a way to appeal to direct clients together. But we struggled to figure out where we should focus our efforts. This went on for a little while as an experiment with different people joining and leaving the team until I heard about an incubator program called LIFT at Lunds Nyföretagarcentrum (Lund Center for New Businesses) at Ideon Science Park in Lund, Sweden. The program was aimed at services companies with unique ideas aiming for rapid growth within two years. I was accepted into the program and that was the turning point when Lund Translation Team in its current form was born.

We were given access to regular business counseling, a free crash course in entrepreneurship, quarterly meetings with an advisory board consisting of hand-picked professionals volunteering their time to give us advice, and subsidized office space with affordable rent. Instead of just sharing one-time costs for our business expenses such as website and business cards as before, we set fixed monthly membership fees to cover the recurring rent of the office and leave a small surplus for our joint marketing activities. Setting this fixed fee separated the wheat from the chaff, and resulted in only those of us who were serious about investing money, time, and energy into building a successful translation business with direct clients remaining.

So what is Lund Translation Team today? Lund Translation Team is not a separate legal entity, but a joint brand shared by multiple freelance translators, each with their own sole proprietorships and accounting. We share joint marketing costs, spread the brand name by using it in our marketing  and market each other’s services together as a whole. Everyone still invoices separately and charges clients for the work they do individually. We have one office in Lund and one in Ängelholm, about an hour apart in the same region of southern Sweden. The whole team meets in person twice a month, once in each location, and is in daily electronic contact. The monthly fees are paid to the treasurer who then pays for all the team’s joint expenses.

Within the team we cover about six major European languages into Swedish, as well as English and Swedish to Chinese and Swedish and German to English. We work with a few select external partners as well, mainly to cover more European languages. We decided to put a clearer focus on the specialization of each of our members recently to show what makes each of us unique (e.g. I now call myself the team’s financial communications translation expert).

We still have a lot of work to do, but I feel we are really going in the right direction now and our networking is slowly paying off and bringing in more direct clients. I have found an amazing group of people to collaborate with and I find it very rewarding. From sharing tips on quoting, pitching and other business practices to helping each other with terms, sentences, CAT tools and all kinds of work-related issues. It is very rewarding socially too, with a steady stream of laughter coming from our office on meeting days.

I don’t think there is a single right or wrong form of collaboration between translators, but I am convinced that there is a lot to gain by working together in some way. Here are some ways translators can collaborate:

–          A pair of translators revising each other’s work on a regular basis

–          Translators referring jobs they don’t have time for or languages and fields they don’t do

–          Translators in different countries partnering up to reach each other’s markets

–          Local translators partnering up to share office space and/or to target local clients together

And here are some of the benefits of working together:

–          Make office space and marketing materials more affordable through cost-sharing

–          Expand your networking reach

–          Attract direct clients who need more than one language

–          Get advice and feedback on all kinds of translation and business challenges

–          Forge strong professional and social relationships

–          Have someone to cover for you when you are sick, on vacation or underestimated a job

How would you like to collaborate with other translators? Or what experiences do you already have? Don’t forget that the ATA and the other national translator associations are very valuable resources for getting to know potential collaborators. The more involved you get, the more people you meet and the better you get to know them. So what are you waiting for? Reach out to a fellow translator today!

Minutes from The Savvy Newcomer Logbook

June 15, 2015.

pawel kadyszAfter a few months of letting The Savvy Newcomer ship fly the flags of other bloggers, the Captain and Crew had a team meeting to rediscover the world of original content.

It had been a few months since they had connected as a team, and thanks to the valiant efforts of Mate Christaki, who had valiantly kept The Savvy Newcomer reblog series alive, the ship was still sailing on current content.

Over the spring of 2015, The Savvy Newcomer team members had various things going on in their lives that caused them to focus their energy elsewhere. Also, as good crew members of other translator association boats, they were busy helping with other initiatives that needed attention.

  • Jamie Hartz graduated from Kent State University and moved to Pennsylvania. She now has a Master of Arts in Spanish Translation and is launching her freelance career. The rest of the team is very proud of her!
  • Daniela Guanipa directed the redesign, revamping, and relaunch of the new website of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida (ATIF) in preparation for the ATA conference in Miami this November.
  • Helen Eby assisted the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters (OSTI) as it worked on passing the new Healthcare Interpreting law, and provided assistance to the ATA Interpreters Division.
  • Dan McCartney was busy transitioning into a full-time job managing client relations for a translation company in Chicago!
  • David Friedman was busy with the peak season for annual report translations, new adventures with direct clients, and developing his local team of translators in Sweden.
  • Kimberley Hunt was trying to get on board while starting her internship in France. She is getting her Masters in Translation and Interpreting at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. We strive to always have a student on board, and Jamie graduated.
  • Catherine Christaki never abandoned ship and kept The Savvy Newcomer blog alive with reblogs. The rest of the team is grateful to her for keeping the ship on course!

The team met, looked at the chart and plotted a new course. They realized that every crew member had gained valuable experiences over the spring while helping other association ships and growing their businesses. Part of the seaman’s code of honor is to help each other at sea, and so they are now planning to share the lessons learned over these months with our readers.

Keep your eyes peeled for these upcoming posts from each of our members:

  • Jamie: Transition from student to professional
  • Daniela: Keeping a steady pace while balancing work, volunteering, and family life
  • Helen: The value of a 40 hour introductory training program for interpreting – and why I organized a Trainer of Trainers in Oregon!
  • David: The inner workings of a team of entrepreneurial translators
  • Catherine: The lessons and hardships of relocating across the ocean
  • Dan: From freelance famine to full-time feast
  • Kimberley Hunt: The story of a U.S. intern in France

We learned how valuable teamwork is, since while some are busily taking care of urgent issues, others continue to follow the charted course. Mutual trust and close contact are essential, and so we decided to schedule regular meetings in advance to keep us connected, and help us stay motivated to write and share interesting content. We serve the other ATA ships, and other ATA bloggers support us as well. We would like to thank everyone for their support! Together, we give newcomers the inspiration, knowledge and tools to get the most out of their prospective translation and interpreting careers.

Here are some exciting articles we have in the pipeline:

  • A newbie from Chicago tells us how the 2014 conference went.
  • Jonathan Hine: Revision and its kin.
  • Christiane Nord: A series of articles on taking messages across the linguaculture barrier.
  • Mercedes Guhl: An article on the line between too freely translated and too literally translated.
  • Others are in progress, and more details will follow as soon as they are confirmed.

Ahoy, mates!

The Savvy Newcomer Ship has reset its compass. Please contact the team if you would like to participate and lend a helping hand. Many hands make light work!