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I have worked as a lead product developer for this company for 10 years. I don't have any issues in our work environment except the following: my manager doesn't seem to value my time.

Some examples:

  • He will call me for a meeting for which I am not required and which goes on for hours.

  • He schedules personal meetings, but after 5 minutes or less he will call others about some other topic which has occurred to him, and speaks to that person for nearly an hour. When I ask if I can leave and come back, he tells me to wait.

I don't think this behavior is targeted at me alone, however it heavily impacts my work - and I can't go home for the day until my work is done (it's not just a standard 8 hour work day).

How do I convey this to my boss without upsetting him?

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    "At the end he will simply say to leave by asking what are you working on" - what does this sentence mean? Does your boss dismiss you early from the meeting, or does he ask you at the close of the meeting (i.e. you attended the whole meeting)? – Brandin Apr 25 '16 at 8:04
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    This depends a lot on culture. Is this an Indian working in India, or an Indian working someplace else? There are places where it's expected to tell the boss when they're preventing you from doing work. – Peter Apr 27 '16 at 12:53
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    "He schedules personal meetings, but after 5 minutes or less he will call others about some other topic which has occurred to him, and speaks to that person for nearly an hour. When I ask if I can leave and come back, he tells me to wait." HOLY F this was my last boss EXACTLY. I started just getting up and leaving without asking. What is he going to do? He's too busy on the phone to raise a stink. – Andrew Whatever Apr 27 '16 at 17:15
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You should not tell him that he is wasting your time, as he might not be realizing that, and he might be thinking that those meetings are in fact helping you all.

So instead, think of alternative methods to have short meetings which can help execute the meetings successfully with productive takeaways, as well as optimizing the total time taken.

This would help your manager get things done as usual, and in a shorter time, so that it can save yours and his time too.

So, giving solutions (if you can) rather than complaining or telling NO on the face, always helps. And it would help you gain some brownie points in your team and the company too.

11

I can't go home for the day until my work is done

This is why your manager doesn't value your time. He never experiences the negative consequences of having you stand around doing nothing for an hour, because you always take that hour out of your personal life. It's fairly natural, if a little careless, to value a resource at what it costs you. In this case: nothing.

It may be that reminding him there are competing demands on your time is all it will take him to stop regarding these things as insignificant. Some people just don't like to anticipate problems, they expect you to tell them (gently) when something's inconvenient or that you're busy. Perhaps since you're reluctant to raise the problem he's carelessly assuming there's no problem. Try out, "I already have a full day today so I can't easily add that hours-long meeting". "You've put an hour for this 1-1 meeting in my diary, and I'm going to need to leave when that's up to get to my next thing". "I can do that, but it'll push the report back to Monday and currently we're planning to send it Friday".

If that attempt to solve it piecemeal doesn't work, then you have to raise the general issue more firmly without upsetting him. How to do it depends how he thinks about your role. There are three major lines of approach I can think of:

  • Correct him. This relies on him seeing you as a wise advisor who can check on his decisions. If he sees you as a lackey who obeys without question, do not do this. But in whatever words your relationship allows, you might say, "look, boss, you always think I need to be in these meetings, but you never call on me and I can read the minutes in 1/10 the time. I don't see why I need to be there, what's going on? Should I be there? Should I even bring my laptop and work through the meetings?". Or, ultimately, if your boss's time is worth more than yours then sometimes you have to wait for him to finish his phone call. The problem here might be that he always thinks the call is just a few minutes, so it's reasonable to ask you to wait. Actually it takes an hour. Maybe he needs you to point out this mistake he keeps making, and expects you to raise problems you see. Or maybe he very much doesn't.

  • "There is something more valuable I should be doing than those things". Suggest specific things that you would do with the time. When invited to an hours-long meeting, ask in advance what you're there for and say, "that meeting's the same day as X, I won't be able to do X at the same time as being in the meeting, would it be better for me to be doing X?". This is good if he sees you as an independent action-adventurer who can be relied on to find the best thing to be doing. Now, he might say, "oh, just do both", but maybe he expects you (as lead developer) to have an opinion what you should spend your time on and to turn down the things that are less important.

  • Appeal to work-life balance. Point out to him that in addition to your ordinary 10 hours of work you have to do, he keeps adding 5-hour meetings. Say that while you're not a stickler for hours, these 15-hour days just aren't possible for you, and you need him to help you reduce your workload. Once he realises that it's easier to delegate "doing nothing" to a less senior developer, than it is to delegate your actual work, hopefully he'll see "doing nothing" as the most sensible thing to cut. Or maybe the reverse: he really values you in these meetings so he'll help you find ways to offload what used to be your ordinary work and change your role. This is good if he sees you as a high-value resource that he has to deploy to the right place at the right time. It's bad if he sees you as a 24/7 fanatic who sleeps at your desk and who he plans to grind to dust and then throw away.

Of course he may think of you as a little of all three of these things, so pick a line that feels to you like he'd go for it: if he values your opinion, tell him you're wasting your time there; if he values your prioritisation, tell him you've got something more important to do; if he values your well-being, tell him you don't have time to do it all. If he values none of these, find a better boss ;-) Whatever you choose, do it politely and present it as an unavoidable fact of life that just has to be dealt with.

5

You might want to consider why he's doing this.

If he seemingly wants you to be privy to meetings between a boss and subordinates, in a company where you have worked for 10 years, it's entirely possible that you are being groomed for a promotion in which you'll have to be part of these types of meetings.

In either case, you can very simply resolve this by asking him why he wants you to take part in them.

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    Is it a good idea, when ever boss asks to come, to ask for an explanation/reason for calling. ? – Vishwamithra Apr 25 '16 at 13:09
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    @Vishwamithra yes, if you do it properly. I usually ask "Can you help me understand the role I'll play in the meeting and whether I'm required for the full duration?" – alroc Apr 27 '16 at 14:52
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    Just avoid being that guy who when asked to do something is really obstructive and demands a full business case in triplicate! But since you currently don't see the point in you being there, either you need it explaining to you or else your boss needs to realise there isn't one. – Steve Jessop Aug 30 '16 at 21:29
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Telling your boss that he is wasting your time is absolutely wrong and disrespectful. Rather ask him permission for not attending the meeting which you don't find useful. Also try to explain him how is that meeting not useful to you and that you have more important work left pending for the day. Well, glad if he agrees to your request.Else find out what best you can gain out of those irrelevant meetings. Maybe sometime it will come to your help.

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    If the boss is clueless, doesn't value your time, and doesn't realize that he or she is wasting your time, telling them is absolutely right and shows the respect the boss deserves. It may be bad for you due to some power balance, but wrong and disrespectful it is not. I don't get away with behaving like an idiot, why should my boss? – gnasher729 Aug 30 '16 at 22:52

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