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BACKGROUND:

I started a new job 2 months ago. I am very invested in doing well at it. They hired me as a contractor, though they are providing me with "training" and company resources (such as a corporate laptop).

I work on a team with 3 or 4 other people. We are in different countries and time zones. We have daily scrum meetings and before them we do a daily report. The report includes what we did yesterday, what we are going to do today, and any obstacles. We are not software developers. It's hard to put a label on what our team does, but a large part is production support.

QUESTION:

In general, I find meetings difficult. Especially when they involve more than 3 people where everyone is expected to talk. In the scrum meetings I find that either I have no clue what someone is talking about (e.g. they are working on a product I don't work on), or I worked on the issue with them (as parting of training) and I just repeat what they already say when it's my turn. I know this is a strange question but what's the theory behind meetings? I guess there's an inbetween zone from not knowing what someone's talking about to having done it with them, and in that area it's useful to share knowledge?

Something happened the other day where the "highest ranking member of the team" asked if I'm using a very strong password for a superuser account. It wasn't clear which account he was refering to and I asked him to specify. If he had said the username I would've understood but I wasn't able to make sense of his reply. I told him I use a password generator to randomly generate passwords. He was very unhappy with my unaswer. I'm very confused why someone would think a password manager is bad to use? Latter my boss talked to me in private about mistakes I made in the meeting. He said I gave too much info and I should have just said yes when asked if my password is strong. In general, is this good advice? In general I have trouble knowing if the person wants a short answer or explanation (though is your password strong is a pretty stupid question either way). Another time he commented (online) about my report "not enough sound". I thought he was making a joke but my boss said that means he wants to see more details. Is this passive aggressive? I searched online to see if "not enough sound" was slang for something and couldn't find any.

In general, how do I get better at daily reports and participating in meetings? I have trouble understanding when I ask a question and not given a direct answer. For example I asked if we're supposed to ask questions in the scrum and was told "not really but that's changing".

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Scrum daily stand-up meetings are a specific sort of meeting, intended as a quick check that everybody is making progress towards their goal. They are only supposed to be about:

  • What you did yesterday.
  • What you intend to do today.
  • Is anything blocking you from doing what you need to do?

It doesn't matter if you don't understand what some other people are doing. It doen't matter if what you did yesterday was to work with somebody else. Just be confident in answering those three things.

Other meetings may have a completely different purpose. Any other topics should be discussed in other meetings.

Don't assume it's your fault if you can't tell if the manager wants long or short asnswers. If they can't explain clearly what they want, they are likely to get the wrong answer.

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  • Are scrum meetings intended for software development or can anyone use them effectively? – JazzgeMica Jun 20 '20 at 18:41
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    @JazzgeMica scrum meetings are intended only for when you're actually doing Scrum, but Scrum is not restricted to software development, just most common there. However the fact that you're having this meeting with people working on a different product suggests you're using them very poorly since that's very much not how they work. – Erik Jun 20 '20 at 19:21
  • As the team in general should understand what it does, in principle it does matter that everyone (roughly) understands what the other team members are doing. Otherwise it's cargo culture to speak magic words no one knows what their meaning is. Not everyone may need to understand the details (which shouldn't be mentioned anyhow unless necessary to explain a blockage), but at least some should. – Frank Hopkins Jun 22 '20 at 9:06
  • Are people supposed to ask questions in scrum meetings? If no, then what is the point of the scrum master? – JazzgeMica Jun 22 '20 at 14:06
  • @JazzgeMica It's meant to be a very short daily meeting to make sure that everybody is making progress. Too many people asking questions would drag it out. The scrum master is there to make sure that everybody is busy, and nothing is stopping them from progressing. Of course, that assumes you're actually doing Scrum, not just saying you are! – Simon B Jun 22 '20 at 14:41
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I'd highly recommend asking politely for more information when you don't understand something.

This is a great way to get yourself talking and engaged in the meeting. Be sure to listen respectfully and try perhaps summarizing what the person has told you to make sure you understand and so the person who explained it to you knows that you were paying attention.

In addition I have to agree with you on the password generator. As long as there are no biases in the way in which it generates the password this seems like a great way to create a secure password. Maybe it would be possible to politely explain the advantages of using a password generator.

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