In a recent article, Jenie Gabriel from the translation agency Gengo has been suggesting seven practices to improve one’s efficiency :
- Work quality assurance
- Continuous proofreading and reviewing
- Good customer relationship management
- Learning from feedback
- Stepping out of the comfort zone
- Meticulous time management
- Continuous learning and improvement
What kind of efficiency are we dealing with ?
Upon reading this advice, we instantly realize that it is not about time-saving nor organization or customer relationships improvement tools. It is rather a question of work improving than of “work more to earn more”.
Jenie Gabriel quotes Aristotle : “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”.
Therefore, translators must aim for excellence. Why is that ? For the love of the profession, or for work ethics ? Partly, but it is mostly to stand out.
In a world where language service providers must meet increasing needs, the supply also rises, but with very different quality levels.
These habits would therefore rather be a way of determining the difference between a trained and experienced expert and others. Between someone who, through the quality of its work, manages to develop a loyal customer base with interesting and profitable projects, and someone forced to translate whatever is given to him.
Being efficient is not a matter of word count, but rather of gaining more savoir-faire and quality. It is not only about translating, but also building a reputation and making sure there will be more translation projects tomorrow.
Yet, the excellency standard set by this advice—while it allows long-term efficiency to the company—seems to contradict the short-term need to translate fast (and well) and therefore to be cost-effective.
Develop the habit to be effective (and vice versa)
“Time is money.” You could think that the time spent waiting for proofreads, sending e-mails and calling customers is wasted for translation.
Of course, but that is when practice steps in : the daily tasks get faster to carry out. By making sure that they keep improving for each new project, translators make less mistakes and thus spend less time reviewing their work. They gain efficiency in their short-term work.
Excellence and habit go hand in hand, just like Isaac Newton said : “When two forces unite, their efficiency double.”
Translated by Sarah Deville
Proofread by Kim Condron