There are a few organizational-level problems at my company that I have tried to constructively highlight so that the appropriate parties can address them, but to no avail. I, myself, am in a standard engineering role with no management, product, or direction responsibilities, so without investing a massive amount of effort, there is not much else I can do aside from asking nicely.
My next approach was to bring this up with my manager, but he is fairly quiet and agreeable. He brings up concerns softly, and is reluctant to push matters. IMO this isn't a particularly wrong managerial approach, but it hasn't helped matters in this case. If the issue is that, for instance, we are on the 4th networking wrapper written this year, each from scratch, someone may tell my manager "There won't be a fifth, I promise", he'll immediately drop the subject, and then there will be a fifth. If I point out that maybe we should be more skeptical because of track records, he'll push a little harder, but back off again with a little more reassurance.
Obviously there are situation-specific factors that influence the solution in this particular case, but I imagine this is something that could happen at any company. In general, what can an employee do to bring attention to problems that aren't being addressed when a soft-spoken manager is reluctant to do anything?
My concerns are:
- Bringing up "Maybe we're not pushing hard enough" with the manager has not been effective in my experiences. It is hard for them to change their personality, and I end up in an endless back and forth with the other party via my manager as a proxy. This takes up too much time and is not sustainable
- Bringing problems to someone else who will shine a light on them may give your manager the impression you think they are inadequate (true in a way, but seems like a last resort) and may be awkward for them if the problem is not relevant to any of the projects they are working on
- Circumventing the manager and personally resolving the problem may be too time-consuming given limited resources. "Sorry I didn't get anything done last week. I was trying to solve an organizational problem" probably wouldn't bode well.