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What do you suggest to do about a project manager that keeps interrupting the development team by going to their room, asking "what's up", "how is going" and "where are we with development" on a daily basis, sometimes a few times a day. I somehow don't think this is acceptable way of work. I am aware that he needs to be up to date on the status, but this throws developers out of the zone, killing their focus and productivity.

BTW, we already have weekly status meetings, and we can even suggest to have daily standups where he will participate - but how to provide feedback that this kind of out-of-the-blue interruptions are making things difficult?

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    Is the project manager familiar with the idea of daily standups, Scrum, etc? Is he disciplined enough to just get a daily status and then not interrupt? – DaveG May 24 at 12:43
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    Please clarify if it is usually daily or usually a few times per day, and give a number for what 'a few times per day' means. Is it 3? 5? 10? – Joe S May 24 at 12:43
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    Have you tried to tell him that it is disturbing your work? What did he say? – nvoigt May 24 at 12:48
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    When he comes in, arrange with your colleagues that you each "fill him in" for 20 minutes... He will get the point... – Solar Mike May 24 at 13:28
  • That's awesome. If he gets tied up for 2 hours everytime he stops in he'll probably stop coming around. – Keith May 24 at 13:37
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Is this a new PM? Is it someone that is new to the company or the job? It may be that he just doesn't realize how disruptive it is because he hasn't experienced it.

Someone needs to pull him aside and just tell him that. Be nice about it, but just say, "Ya know...I really appreciate you asking, and showing interest, but asking several times a day can be disruptive and counterproductive. Our focus needs to be on the job, not meetings" Then, explain how many times it's happened, and don't exaggerate. Don't say "you're always coming in here..." Explain in detail. He may not realize he's doing it that much.

Document it. Explain that when he came in at 9:07 the team was hard at work and it disrupted them, making it hard to get back on track. Then again at 11:14. Then again at 2:07. Then again at 3:45.

Maybe commit to better communication -- perhaps a daily standup in the morning or afternoon and just say how it's going. Maybe a quick email daily saying "We did this....we're doing that tomorrow".

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Yes, +1 Keith.

OP, your PM doesn't realise how disruptive it is, but s/he isn't stupid.

Just explain that when you're knocked out of the zone, you don't just fall straight back in. It takes 20-30 mins to get back to speed. Plus the length of the update. Multiplied by the # times per day.

For 4 interruptions, you're easily losing 2 hours working time - explain this; 25% of your workday is wasted, which translates into 25% later delivery, 25% more defects and 25%*n times the cost to fix them (google images "Steve Mcconnell Sails Diagram", which shows how much more expensive defects become, depending on where in the project lifecyle they're fixed).

Put it in terms the PM can understand; a tradeoff between communication and progress. And move to daily standups at a fixed time (even if you do nothing else, this will fix the problem for everyone).

(+1 too, to @SolarMike in the comments, for tying up the PM in a way which viscerally aids their understanding).

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If you are using agile then use the retrospective session to give feedback about what went wrong and what the team should improve. As a team then find a solution that works for everyone. Could be stand-ups, could be a informal coffee break in the middle of the day. If you are using a tool like Jira the pm can follow up the process if the team updates the progress. If the team add comments, assign a task to someone else or mark as complete there is no need to come around and ask about the progress .

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Are you using any project management tool? Like Jira, Trello, etc. If not then start using one of them. Create tasks there, add your project manager in those tasks, keep updating those tasks or cards in terms of tags/labels. E.g. 'Scheduled' then 'On Going' then 'Done' etc. This will help your PM to get updated with each task's status and from his/her desk/cabin only. If PM has any query then s/he can simply add comments to those tasks and get reply from your team. It will be less interruptive and more productive. :)

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