I've recently acquired a new manager who has been making a lot of changes and requests. I'm always willing to compromise if there's an obvious benefit or problem being solved, and while I was initially willing to take steps to comply with things that I didn't necessarily agree with, it's reached a point where I'm no longer willing to keep inconveniencing myself if there isn't an answer to 'What is the actual benefit to the team or problem being solved by this change?' that I feel is acceptable.
This exact problem has occurred once in the past, also with a new manager. I knew that the requests weren't unreasonable themselves, but complying was inconvenient to me and offered no substantial impact to the team or my work. My thought process was along the lines of 'What are the repercussions you can leverage against me if I say no? You can fire me and I can have a new job within days,' but I felt that communicating this wasn't appropriate and would lead to an unhealthy work environment.
Last time, I just went ahead and moved on to a new job. Shortly after I left, the rest of the team also left for the same reasons, which made me realize that this may be a common problem. I've now begun the same process of smiling and nodding while I schedule interviews on the side, but I've been wondering if there's a healthy way to address this situation.
Just as an example, one problem involved a regular two hour team meeting. The majority of the meeting was managers going back and forth, with no input from anyone else; I brought up a concern that this meeting should only include the managers, but it was brushed aside. I usually bring a book with me and split my attention between reading and paying attention to the meeting. I was pulled aside and told that I need to stop bringing books. I explained that I'm still paying attention and answering the rare question asked during the meeting, and asked what the problem with that is; the only response was 'not giving the meeting your full attention is rude.' Which it certainly may be.
This question may be specific to high-demand professions (in this case, software engineering), but is there any diplomatic way to explain to a manager that they should be picking and choosing their battles? Is picking up your bags and leaving the only solution?