I currently work as a Software Engineer in a relatively small subdivision of a team of ~35 people, all of which report to the same manager (and all of which are Software Engineers of some sort). This problem is not unique to me, and this question is specifically about dealing with a manager's communication issues. M has been at the company for ~6 months; most of us have been on the team for 9-18 months (I've been here for 18 months); the team is relatively new.
Recently, we have been having problems effectively communicating with our manager, M (who is a Software Engineering Manager - a middle management position). M can be very difficult to talk to and that's causing significant attrition in the team. Of note is a sizeable language barrier that causes misunderstandings somewhat consistency, although not very frequently.
Here are a few examples of recurring issues:
- M is extremely verbose. Meetings that should (and would) only take ~10-15 minutes can take upwards of 30-45 minutes if M is involved, because they tend to talk in an extremely repetitive manner to the point where the meeting is going in circles. Said meetings get hijacked by M constantly for conversations other than the one the meeting was originally intended for. Our standup meetings used to take 5-10 minutes, but I've seen them take upwards of 45 because M wanted to talk about whatever else.
- M will ask a technical question and expect a specific answer. When they do not receive the expected answer, M will rephrase the question until they get the answer they want (as if the answer would change).
- M is not a good listener. M frequently interrupts people mid-sentence to ask questions (which were about to be answered), or to speak their mind. These interruptions can be extremely lengthy (5-10 minute monologues), and often derail conversations.
- M will say obvious things and take a lot of time doing so. For instance, they'll tell an engineer "you have to find the root cause of this bug, and change XYZ" - and take 5 minutes to do so, as if said engineer, who is unquestionably more familiar with the codebase, didn't already know that.
- M will give their opinion on implementation details that are not user-facing, which makes little sense given the developers' markedly more mature intimacy with the codebase (M has a technical background, but does not and has never written code at the company).
As far as I can tell, however, the team's relationships with M range from good to okay (myself included).
I have tried readbacks, as suggested here, and I have also tried giving as little technical detail as possible in order to give M fewer opportunities to interrupt myself and other engineers and derail important meetings. However, I have found no success in anything other than shutting up and pretending to listen, but that takes significant time and impacts our team's communication (since the meetings get wrecked constantly), and I personally find this sort of behavior to be extremely aggravating (bordering on intolerable). To put it in perspective, if the roles were reversed and a report of mine behaved in the way M does, I would have had a talk with them about this months ago.
In light of this information, my question is: How can I most effectively get M to be more concise, on topic, and clear about what they want? Repetition, derailing meetings, interrupting people, and giving confusing and/or useless input are all serious problems materially affecting our team's morale and productivity.
EDIT: it was suggested that we schedule meetings without M. Some of the meetings that were hijacked, one of which is our stand-up meeting, did not originally include M; nobody felt like they could decline to add them to the meeting, seeing as we all report to them.