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I have joined my first job 6 months ago as a software developer at a big company. I am the youngest person in my team (probably 10 to 15 years younger than the other members). I like my team very much as all of the members are cool and very helpful.

We have a weekly meeting and other teams also join the meeting. During that meeting we do several things: 1) share our progress towards the project (also individual projects); 2) discuss issues with our product, etc. Very frequently we do small write-ups (on our wiki) on the above topics. The wiki page along with the topics to be discussed in the meeting will be sent to everybody one or two days before the meeting. It would be pretty good if everybody reads it before the meeting: 1) It simplifies the job of the author (of the report) to explain things in the meeting; 2) the team members can provide great feedback so that the work could be improved further.

However, the problem is that most of the team members (including my manager and also members of other teams) are not at all reading the wiki pages before the meeting. They ask very trivial questions during the meeting as you can get the answers to those by just even skimming the wiki page. It gives frustration to the people (specifically to the author) who already read the wiki page and know the answers.

What is the best way to solve this problem?

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    Give them 5 minutes to read the wiki page at the start of the meeting - Not that you are getting any guarantees from me that this is going to work. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 2 '15 at 18:25
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    If they have questions that are answered on the wiki, say so. Then move on. They'll catch on pretty quickly – Brian Apr 2 '15 at 18:31
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    If the people in charge aren't following protocol then the protocol needs to change. – NotMe Apr 2 '15 at 19:45
  • @NotMe - not necessarily. The protocol may be meant for people other than those who are in charge. (Granted, it is better if the protocol specifies this: people of xxxx position should read the wiki. But if that isn't the case, then changing the protocol is an opportunity for improvement, but not an absolute requirement.) – TOOGAM Apr 14 '17 at 18:09
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I presume there is a laptop and projector already involved in the meeting. Before it starts open the email that has "the topics to be discussed" - that is the agenda. In another window open the wiki.

Run the meeting from the agenda. When someone asks a trivial question that is in the wiki, open the wiki page and highlight the answer there. They may say "that was kind of hidden" or "I didn't realize that applied to all the reports" and you can adjust the wiki then and there or assign someone a task to do so. Or they may say "thanks" a little sheepishly. Since these people outrank you, never say "as you would know if you had checked the wiki before the meeting" or "as it clearly shows in the wiki" or anything like that. Just start answering the question out loud while you flip to the wiki, as though you were using a visual aid, and select/highlight the answer like using a powerpoint.

They may decide to read the wiki first after a few meetings prove there is valuable information there. You may realize the wikis are nowhere near as clear as you think. You may also have to accept that senior people may refuse to read ten sentences if only one matters to them, and would rather come to the meeting and make five people listen to the one sentence being read out loud. One way or another the meetings should improve.

  • +1 This is about as far as anyone could tactfully take it when dealing with upper management. – user8365 Jun 2 '15 at 18:28
  • Great answer. Many lives ago I was responsible for presenting my project monthly to a steering committee that included my manager, the V.P. for our project, and the President of the company. After some experiences similar to OP's, the President reminded me that "paper has impact"; and suggested that I have a paper copy of the agenda (1 page) on everyone's desk first thing the morning before each meeting. (I am an early bird, so was almost always the first in of that group.) It worked surprisingly well, simply be reminding everyone of the meeting while enjoying their first coffee of the day – Pieter Geerkens May 23 '17 at 19:19
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Why he asks:
Why is your boss asking these questions?

One possible reason is what you identified: so that he can learn what is already in the wiki.

Other possible reasons is that he wants the answer to be spoken so that other people on the team hear the answer.

Or, the focus might not be on the information/answer, as much as the focus is on getting you to answer. The reason for this might be to try to get (or keep) you more involved. Or, the boss might want you to answer simply to hear you say words that the boss is likely to approve of. (Doing this repeatedly may help other team members realize that what you say is "good" in the eyes of the company, and may give you some more weight for this.)

Remember, what is clear and obvious to you, who has worked on a problem in detail, might not be as familiar to a person who hasn't been working on a problem in detail. When you re-iterate a fact that the boss might already know, that re-iteration might help him to remember the detail better. Or, he might know a couple of things (which I'll call "dots"), but he might not have figured out a certain relationship (how the dots are connected). When he asks about how something works, and your answer connects those dots, he'll be more prone to understand the relationship and better remember the dot.

Wiki's Benefit:
It could be that the wiki is not necessarily meant for the boss's benefit. By having you write a wiki, you spend more time thinking about certain things. That may help you (whether you're consciously realizing it or not) to be able to answer things faster.

The wiki might also be intended for the benefit of other people to view ahead of time, and for other people to be able to review later. The wiki might not be meant for the boss.

Or, maybe the boss wants to be able to have access to the wiki to review it sometimes, including if he wants to ask about something before the larger gathering, but in other cases he doesn't want to spend the time reading the wiki. Whether he wants to read the wiki might vary from hour to hour, or week to week. However, if he does want to read the wiki, then he wants to read the words that are already written. He doesn't want to have to ask you to start writing the wiki.

He might not know ahead of time whether/when he will want to read the wiki later. So, the only way for him to routinely have access if and when he wants it is to have you write it, just in case it is helpful. In some cases your writing efforts might not end up being as helpful to him.

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Prepare a proper agenda and send that with a printed document which covers all the changes that they need to be aware of from the Wiki. Doc should be a summary with links to the Wiki.

But you would have to have a senior manager propose and champion this.

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