Weird request from my boss

Hi all, I wanted to get some advice on how to handle something thats going on at my job. So recently I quit y job a an architect at a firm I have been working for two years now. Apart from being an architect I also did a lot of conceptual design with ecotect and vasari. I learned how to use these programs at the university and at my previous job as a sustainable design consultant. I believe that it is not important to know how to use the software but the knowledge and concepts that go behind. Anyway, I am leaving my job in a week or two and my boss asks me do make a "manual" or tutorials on how to use these programs at the firm. I don't think that's fair for me or anyone else after all the time I have dedicated to learn about mechanical eng., energy, daylight, physics, etc. I don't think it's good to give instructions on how to use the software to people who don't have the basic concepts of te science behind that.

What do you think? How do you think I should handle this?

*also, this is in Ecuador and not many people have that specially here, I might be on of the first here.
Jan 17, 13 10:01 am
Sorry for the spelling/typos I'm typing on a smartphone with language and autocorrect in Spanish... It's hell haha
Jan 17, 13 10:03 am
On the fence

He paid for the programs so you could use them at his firm.  A part of your employment seems to be based on this.  When you leave, he has to be able to fill that slot you left.  So I would say that a basic tutorial is not out of line.  He is still paying you and you are still an employee.  Just my 2 cents.

Jan 17, 13 11:14 am

On the fence

You are totally right - I have been asked to do the same in all my various incarnations - and I wrote documents on processes - It's one thing if you are the owner/licensee of the software as was the case when I owned a Maya license back in my Video game life. 

Jan 17, 13 11:45 am

Usually experts say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert on something (haha) so I wouldn't worry about someone coming in, looking at your user manual, and instantly knowing how to use these programs. 

Furthermore, I would limit the scope of your user manual to technical aspects of using the program and leave the theory and intellectual basis for your environmental planning decisions out of it.  Even if someone can read the manual and "learn" the program, they will be lost without the concepts which underpin it.

When you are employed, your boss is renting your technical knowledge, not buying it. Allowing them to keep it around after you are no longer getting paid is not right.

Also, there is a good chance that if he gets a "user manual" out of you, he will hire just any intern or designer at a much lower rate than if he had to find an expert in your field and compensate accordingly. This is bad for the entire profession.


My user manual would look like this:

Open the program.

Press F1.


Jan 17, 13 11:55 am

I don't have any similar experience but here's what i think : 

You could just make a technical tutorial  about using the most common functions of those programs, but as someone earlier said : i will be useless for someone who doesn't have the theoretical knowledge. You could do that without any kind of extra remuneration from the boss. 

Or, you could create a more complete tutorial with theoretical aspects before technical instructions, and ask for extra $$$ . Not saying that you should share everything you know, just the basics. I think there is something for you to gain from this. 

Jan 17, 13 3:32 pm
el jeffe

"When you are employed, your boss is renting your technical knowledge, not buying it. Allowing them to keep it around after you are no longer getting paid is not right."

yeah, um pretty much entirely wrong. as an employee you're paid for your time. period. what you do during that time is entirely up to the employment contract.


and to the OP, what harm is there in helping your boss this way? do you want to maintain a good relationship with him or do you want to burn that bridge?

Jan 17, 13 4:30 pm

Is this 2007? Is the recession over? 

Jan 17, 13 5:14 pm

Rate of pay is frequently determined by technical knowledge and experience. I highly doubt that the OP's contract was negotiated under the assumption that he would be passing specialized technical knowledge on as most of us would charge much more for such a service.

Jan 17, 13 5:56 pm
el jeffe

yes, and that's why teachers are some of the most highly paid professionals out on the open market.

Jan 17, 13 6:51 pm

I thought the question wasn't "is it ethical to be asked to create a training manual" (to which the answer is, quite obviously, yes) but rather "I don't believe that this particular program lends itself well to training manuals, because technical proficiency with the program alone, without knowledge of the subject matter it is based on, will lead to poor outcomes".  

Is that correct, OP?

If that's what you're worried about, then just bring those specific concerns up to your boss, and explain your reservations to him.  It is probably not in his best interest to have people who don't know what they're doing think  they know what they're doing just because they know how to use a piece of software, and creating bad results.  If he understands your reservations, but STILL wants you to create the manual, then do it.  It is quite possible that he wants the manual in case someone else with your background in sustainability, but without the specific software knowledge, can learn how to use it.  Or it is quite possible that he is trying to find some use to put you to for your remaining couple of weeks since you aren't working on a project.  Who knows.

I have created quite a manuals in my time at firms.  Some of them I just did on my own, to keep myself organized and to be helpful.  I feel that the folks on this forum who think it's unethical to be asked to create a training manual are likely somewhat inexperienced in the business/working world.  

Jan 17, 13 10:10 pm

wouldn't it be much cheaper for the employer to buy one of the many software training books?

Jan 18, 13 3:15 pm

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