I've been working on a project at work where my manager repeatedly forgets about different parts of the project. As a result almost on a weekly basis he asks the same questions about the project which results in me reexplaining all my work over and over again. Any advice on how to deal with this situation, I'm getting more and more frustrated each time I repeat myself.


Simple answer: Use documentation, and a project management tool.

Long answer: Knowledge, as long as it resides into one particular location (i.e, connected / limited by one individual) is always at risk of loss. In a properly structured program or organization, there should not be any scenario where to execute / run a program, anyone has to depend on any specific people / person. There will be people calling the shots and making the decisions - that is fine, but the information based on which decisions are made should be available to all, at all the time. That's where documentation and project management tools comes into effect.

  • Document everything (assume the person who will be reading / using it has absolute zero knowledge about anything) and make sure the documents resides in a centrally-hosted easily-accessible and always-available place/server.
  • Put a project management tool in place, which can be accessed by every member and the input from everyone will be updated there. No one needs to wait for anyone to have any update.
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Every project requires extensive documentation. You won't get around writing it anyway, so you might just as well start with it now. Put it into a publicly accessible location. Then, when your manager asks a question about the project, you can just refer them to the documentation.

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  • Good answer, but for sure don't do "RTFM" on your manager. Just sit with them with your doc open and walk them to the right spot. Tell them that you've carefully written it up so it will be clearer than an ad hoc explanation. – DaveG Sep 10 at 16:44

A lot of other answers suggest documentation. This never hurts, but it will probably not solve your problem (fully). You should realise that although you are devoted (almost) full-time to this project, your manager probably has lots of other things on his/her mind as well. So you should just give him/her some slack about forgetting some things and just learn to live with it. Trust me, there are worse things in the workplace than repeating some things once a week.

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Document, document, document. But in today's world of constant video conferencing you could create a 1 minute TV style intro that says all of the stuff you keep having to repeat. Add some dramatic music and animated titles. Play at the start of your sessions with the boss like it's a pro wrestling intro. It's your show.

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  • I would avoid music and animations, since those would come across as unprofessional, but otherwise this is a valid idea for solving the problem. – nick012000 Sep 12 at 0:52

The other answers focused on documentation. Since people (and especially managers :-D) often ignore documentation they did not write themselves, I want to answer from the people-side of the question:

Your manager will forget during the span of a week. But to remember, he needs more than just hearing it once. So what you can try is:

  • Repeating the core information once to twice a day for a while. You can do this in a daily standup, a report in the evening, whatever. Simply state "As you remember (fact here), so I did (typical stuff you normally tell here).".
  • If your manager has no problems admitting this personal weakness, offer to do a little learning-quiz every afternoon for a while. As a programmer you might not do your best work in the afternoon anyway, and he might be thankful for the support. Do be the best buddy when you do this, since you do not want him to feel frustrated or ashamed while doing it. If he is up for it include letting him draw stuff or write it down - different people learn differently.
  • Do all your standups / meetings / talks in front of a big diagram showing the structure of your project (or whatever he tends to forget). This way you can point at stuff you are talking about and remembering for him is easier.

All of this is more time/work in the short term, but once the most important facts are memorized, your life will get easier.

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