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I'm currently freelancing on a project, and my supervisor has time management issues. He doesn't respect other people's time - or at least doesn't respect the time I reserved with him.

Examples include: extended side conversations during meetings, leaving meetings early to discuss a topic with another co-worker, leaving meetings during meetings to have a conversation with another co-worker, taking phone calls from his spouse during meetings, responding to unrelated emails during meetings, not coming to meetings on time.

Aside from being disrespectful, is that by not paying attention during meetings or leaving during a meeting, the conversation gets side-tracked. He either misses decisions, questions or points raised during the meeting (then asks for changes later), or decisions are not resolved. However, I don't believe he's on a power-trip. He's just not aware that his behavior causes problems.

A friend of mine said to manage up, but I'm not really sure how to do that.

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  • I don't have enough for a full answer, but regarding missing decisions, etc. in meetings, I suggest having an agenda and meeting minutes that you share before/after every meeting. Make a template so they only take a moment of your time. They help you and everyone else stay organized and on the same page.
    – MackM
    Sep 13 '16 at 19:05
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    Simple solution, charge more until the aggravation and the money cancel each other out. It's what freelancing is all about. You don't manage up, that's a ridiculous idea, you just charge more and then the finance people wake up and take notice. And they can make that manager do anything they want.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 13 '16 at 23:17
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    One question I would ask is whether your supervisor is really needed at all these meetings. A lo tof the symptoms you describe occur when people are invited to meetings that they don't really need to attend or that should really be several shorter meetings with smaller groups. Maybe your supervisor is totally disrespecting you, everyone at the meeting, and the company. But maybe he's showing up, finding that most of the meeting topics don't directly concern him and reacting accordingly. Sep 14 '16 at 7:39
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    @Justin Cave That would be something, but he definitely needs to be there. I often feel that I'm not needed, even though we're discussing my work.
    – user70848
    Sep 14 '16 at 17:41
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    @DLS3141 He's supervising my work, the person I report to.
    – user70848
    Sep 19 '16 at 15:41
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Your manager treating you disrespectfully is never fun, and some other people will (wrongly) see it as a poor reflection on you, and even as an invitation to do the same. That is a problem. If your manager is just unaware, bringing it to his attention will be enough. Next time it occurs, bring it up casually when you are in private. You can use humor or be candid or whatever you think would work best with your manager, so long as you point to a concrete action and express that you do not like it. If he does not stop after your hints, you can learn to live with it or ask that he stop directly, and then accept whatever he decides to do. He's the boss, after all.

Additionally, your manager is walking away from meetings with different/wrong understandings of things. This is a big problem, and the whole reason meeting minutes exist. Talk to your manager, and explain that you have noticed everyone isn't always on the same page after meetings. Offer to take minutes and share them.

Whether he takes you up on that or not, lead by example. Start taking minutes for every meeting you organize, and send them out. Use a template and keep them short, they shouldn’t take long. When other people organize the meetings, keep your own notes during the meetings and offer them to the organizer, or if you wouldn’t feel like it’s stepping on anyone’s toes, to everyone in the meeting. Just an “FYI, I took notes, here they are if anyone wants to see them.”

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  • I think the notes idea could work out! Not for everything, but it would be helpful for me. A good practice in general.
    – user70848
    Sep 14 '16 at 0:04
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This is one way to "manage up" and "cover your ass":

  1. Have a well defined set of agendas (point wise) ready before the meeting from your side, and email it to him before the meeting.
  2. Discuss these point wise as best as can be during the meeting.
  3. After the meeting is over, email him a summary of what was to be discussed, and what was actually discussed and decided. (And on top, add the the date and time of the meeting and the time consumed, e.g. 45 minutes).
  4. Highlight issues that still need a decision from him, and ask him for another meeting for the same.
  5. He will get back to you with the decision or schedule another meeting.

After a few meetings, the supervior will slowly become self-aware of the time being consumed, and how (un)productive the meetings are and future meetings may become more efficient. (Or you can ofcourse, also bring it to his attention after a few meeting, diplomatically, that the meetings are not as as productive and offer suggestions. With the previous emails as proof, it will be much easier for the supervisor to understand what you mean).

(Your job is to make your boss' job easier, and while it is definitely not unreasonable to highlight to them where they can improve, it is unreasonable to believe that they will satisfactorily change or improve. Ultimately both of you will have to adjust to each others needs, with you being expected to be the most accommodating to your boss' - he may just be wired to multi-task and expects you to fill the gap.)

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