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Working as a certified translation project manager

In addition to my work as a translator, over the last two years I have focused primarily on the supervision and management of certified translation and revision teams and projects. It has been two and a half years in which I have learned not only linguistically but I have also had to face situations in which, as a freelance translator, I had never been previously involved.

As a supervisor and head of a department - and as a human being facing an a priori problematic situation - the fundamental thing is to look for a solution as quickly as possible that, if at all possible, satisfies all parties. And when I speak of "all parties" in this case, I mean the client and the team being managed. If, given the case, the team is composed of several collaborators, the situation may become even more complicated, since we try to solve a problem with people with (possibly) different degrees of intelligence/emotional stability (as for this last point, it would be interesting to mention that the emotional stability of women tends to be lower than men for purely hormonal reasons. If you want to know more about this point, I encourage you to read several articles about it, which I mention in my doctoral thesis - if you are interested, send me an e-mail and I will be delighted to send it to you. If we take into account that the translating profession is eminently feminine, you can imagine the potential conflicts with which one can mediate).

It is obvious that, as a client, we are always looking for the highest quality in a certified translation. I've already talked about the requirements that seem fundamental to me in other articles, which I’l place a link to below in case you want to check them out. In this regard, I would like to mention that quality is presupposed in the case of a professional translator, who always translates into his or her mother tongue and specialises in the subject matter of the certified translation. However, as intermediaries, we may encounter a number of problems: 1. The client

The client may or may not be right. Therefore, it is essential to have a review process prior to delivery to the customer. Thus, the certified translation is more likely (but not impossible!) to be of adequate quality. However, as I was saying, it is possible that some clanger may have escaped both the translator and the proofreader (I insist that it is unlikely but possible). In such a case, it is important to have the possibility of carrying out an internal audit by a third party -another native translator specialized in the text typology- in order to be able to draw a solid conclusion regarding the quality of the work delivered. Of course, each teacher has his or her own booklet, although the points mentioned in other articles could be taken as a reference and, of course, adapted.

If the internal audit is favourable to us, it is very important to pass it on to the client so that he can verify, point by point, that the work we have delivered is valid. On many occasions - and I say this from my own experience - many companies that outsource their certified translations refer the latter to a department in which their manager (in the best of cases), who has a B2 [insert language here] and who "talks to foreign customers/suppliers on a daily basis", reviews them. Although this person is in permanent contact with [insert language here] and probably knows technical jargon better than we do, grammatical, orthographic, creative and fluent knowledge will never reach that of a professional translator translating into their mother tongue. For this reason, it is essential to provide a detailed report with the appropriate justifications to help the customer understand why we chose them.

2. The translator

However, as I said at the beginning, it is possible that the report will fail in favour of the client. What to do in these cases?

There is no magic formula, but if the reviewer/auditor was able to detect errors that the previous team could not, the logical thing would be for the former to take care of the correction.

In parallel - and this is already a personal preference - I advise you to send feedback to the translator/reviewer team so that they: a) are aware of the errors and do not repeat them on future occasions; b) can explain the reason for their choice; c) can confirm that the changes proposed by the auditor are correct.

This is where the emotional intelligence of the team, and even our own, comes into play. We start from the premise that no one likes to have to face bad news, especially when it is a third party who questions the quality of our work. However, we have to learn to accept that we are human and that we can make mistakes. From experience, I can say that I have worked with collaborators who apologize and offer thanks for the feedback, collaborators who do not even respond to mail, and other collaborators who defend the indefensible by the sword after even we have sent two impartial audits. There is no doubt that the professionalism of the former is evident, while that of the others is conspicuous by its absence, especially in the latter case. If we manage teams, it is important to bear in mind at all times - and even, in some cases, to have an impact on it - that the less favourable comments we make are strictly professional, since, in the case of translators with acute emotional instability, I have observed a tendency to interpret the situation as a personal matter.

In short, if there is one thing we can gain from the profession of project manager and leader, it is that, in addition to being extremely organised, it is essential to know how to deal with possible incidents that may arise, both on a more professional level and on a more "human" and "emotional" level. To do this, I strongly recommend working on and developing aspects of emotional intelligence (you can consult a selection of several books on the subject).

And you, have you experienced any similar situation, either as a translator or as a project manager/leader?

Thanks for reading, and please get in touch if you have any comments.

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