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My manager holds a one hour stand up with the team every day, and has one-on-ones with everyone weekly. This is beneficial for some things, but my concern is that the manager asks many technical questions, with very little technical input and contribution. Documentation and reports already exist, but she doesn’t take the time to read them. As the title says, I feel she “wants to know everything”.

The issue I take with this is: While some of us enjoy teaching others (manager included), it takes up my and other team members’ time, without much benefit to the product - time which could be otherwise spent in development.

I have never been a manager, so does she have good rationales for this aspect of her behavior? Are we misguided in thinking negatively of her questions?

If not, how should we handle this, in the interest of our product, client and team?

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    Opinion-based. Short answer: When it comes to managing the team and their time, do what your boss says or leave. Feb 16, 2020 at 4:13
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    Spend every meeting doing a karnaugh map ...
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 16, 2020 at 5:12
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    Daily standups are for the team, not the management. Feb 16, 2020 at 11:41
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    @FreshAir Have you asked your manager why your team are writing reports and documentation if your manager isn't reading them? Feb 16, 2020 at 14:13
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    A 1-hour standup is not a standup. Does your manager know how much time she is costing you, reducing the productivity of the team?
    – Llewellyn
    Feb 16, 2020 at 18:25

3 Answers 3

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The issue I take with this is: While some of us enjoy teaching others (manager included), it takes up my and other team members’ time, without much benefit to the product - time which could be otherwise spent in development.

Is the product owner okay with the time spent on the training? If your manager is that person, then clearly the answer is yes, so no time is wasted. You may prefer to spend it doing some technical stuff, but knowledge sharing can be as important.

I have never been a manager, so does she have good rationales for this aspect of her behavior?

That's a great question to ask her. How would we know why is she doing it, if you didn't ask her?

Are we misguided in thinking negatively of her questions?

Likely yes. Since your manager is in all those meetings too, she should be very aware of how much time is spent on them and as they keep happening she sees them as worth it.

If not, how should we handle this, in the interest of our product, client and team?

If you really feel that strongly that it's an utter waste of time, talk to the manager first and try to find out why does she feel the need to hold those meetings. If you dislike the answer and still want to keep making a fuss of it you will have to go over her head to whomever is next in line and complain.

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Asking questions, and asking for explanations of things, is a legitimate management technique. It's effective at surfacing misunderstandings and confusion, especially when done in a group. It's also good for cross-training people, so Adam knows something about what Betty is doing and vice versa.

In any project, engineers have two main audiences. One is their users. The other is engineers in the future who will enhance and maintain the work. A singular focus on just the users isn't ideal. The question / explanation sessions help focus on the future.

It sounds like that management technique is taking an uncomfortable amount of time in your situation. You might be wise to ask your manager for a one-to-one conversation about the problem you see with it. Present it as a problem for her, you, and your group, to solve together.

Level with her: "These meetings make me anxious: I feel pressure to crank out the software and they take time away from that. Is there anything I can do to use the time more effectively?"

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  • +1 often the point of questions isn’t for the benefit of the manager, but so the others on the team can benefit from the answer or discussion. You’re not a piece worker, you’re a knowledge worker, curating your team’s knowledge is a top level management concern.
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 17, 2020 at 14:22
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That’s what your one-to-one is there for. If you think your time is being wasted, then that’s where you tell her.

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