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I work in a the Marketing Department in a role that essentially bridges the gap between IT and Marketing, if there is anything technical, it basically falls to me to be the one to implement it, this includes reporting, marketing automation, other day to day tasks and bigger projects. When I first started in the role, I was given a fair amount of autonomy, which I was able to turn into strong self development and also a promotion.

The problem I am having is in relation to the bigger projects, and the fact that I get about 90% complete with a project, and the spec "slightly" changes, in the eyes of the manager(who is not technically minded, as he works in marketing), but it actually means that it's at least an extra afternoon's work, if not a couple of days, bringing my overall completion of the project back down to 40-70%, which I find very demoralising, and I find it hard to remain motivated on the project as this can sometimes be a never ending cycle(turning a 3 day project into a 3 week ordeal is not uncommon), I also personally feel like I am not performing. I have spoken to my manager about this, and he seems to think I am performing excellently, but personally, I am finding it very unfulfilling.

In addition to this "rework" cycle, he also gives me "pointless" projects with no business value, which can take a day or more to complete, either due to the fact they are rather complex when it comes down to implementation, or the fact that the spec changes after completion that I am forced to redo the work. I would not mind this, if I actually received credit for the work, but on the emails, the word "I" is used in place of "my name" or even "we", leading me to worry how I am perceived throughout the business, not just by my manager

Overall, I feel like I am being poorly managed, but I know I am probably going to have to "manage the manager".

My question is really two parts, is any of the above normal, and if so, how can I deal with it

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    How much contact do you have with actual clients compared to this manager of yours? – Totumus Maximus May 19 '17 at 7:21
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    So the manager is taking all the credit for himself? That is a problem. Have you talked to him about that? – Stephan Branczyk May 19 '17 at 8:04
  • 'the word "I" is used in place of "my name" or even "we"' - Could you clarify this? Do you mean the manager is taking credit for your work? (Sorry to repeat Stephan's question but I wasn't sure if he was referring to this particular point) – colmde May 19 '17 at 8:22
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    He straight up uses the word "I" (the manager) when referring to something I am working on, as in "I am working on a report" instead of "AspireMonkey is working on this report" – AspireMonkey May 19 '17 at 8:38
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    It may depend on the culture a bit, but it is completely normal for a manager to say "We are working on it" instead of "AspireMonkey is working on it", since nobody is expecting that the manager does all the stuff, but that he makes sure his team does. Saying "I am working on it" may be a bit inappropriate, but it still can be understood as "I take care that my team gets this done". After all, nobody expects the manager to do the mundane day-to-day tasks that are the job of his subordinates. – Thern May 19 '17 at 8:54
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Maybe you are too fixated on metrics like 90% or 40-70% and the idea that your performance could be estimated by these metrics.

Many projects out there are running this way, with an abundance of "minor" changes that keep the work going on all the time without seemingly ever being finished. This is especially the case if the project is heavily based on user experience and feedback.

That does not mean that you do a bad job just because you never get to 100%. In such a project, an overall progression percentage simply does not make sense.

What might help you (and what might be missing, given the described attitude of your manager) is a clear version management. Take the specs at a certain point in time, implement these, and call it version 1.0. Then, when additional spec changes occur, change the spec version and the implementation to version 1.1. This has the advantage that you can document what was necessary to fulfill the "slight changes" (to prove that you are not underperforming), and you also retain the feeling that you have a continuous improvement instead of a slowly growing, never ending story, because you can define the 100% for each version cycle separately.

But, as you said, your manager thinks that you are doing fine. And what you describe seems to be a quite common behavior of a project. So there is no need to worry. You are not underperforming, you are just using inept metrics to measure your performance.

  • Great answer. I would just add for the "receiving credit" part, if you are the one doing the work, people are bound to notice eventually. I have the exact same problem (my boss writing "I" or "we" when I did 99% of the work), but the point is that whenever someone writes back with a question, she has to say "well Kerkyra is going to answer that" since she has no idea what she is talking about. Don't worry, if you're doing a good job people will see it. – Kerkyra May 19 '17 at 8:33
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Regarding Spec changes, these things happen. He's paying the wages so you'll just have to get used to doing what he says - the important thing from your point of view is that he (and maybe anyone else concerned) knows that the changes mean that it will take longer to complete.

If it is the case that the completion of the project by a certain time is important, you could always suggest that you complete it per current spec, release, and then the changes he wants go into a "Version 1.01" or something like that. If there is no deadline (or it's a very long way away), I don't really see the problem.

In the second point, you could always (nicely) question the business value of a project you think is pointless - it may seem pointless to you but he could have other things in mind. Mention how long you think it will take (he might be of the impression it's just a quick job), and if you can, suggest something more valuable that you could be doing. But don't push too hard - depending on his personality he mightn't take kindly to it, and the final decision is his after all.

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It seems your 3-day projects turning into 3-week ordeals could be viewed as a form of 'agile development' with numerous short feedback loops. Perhaps it seems chaotic, but if it delivers value it is merely a well-functioning light-weight process.

Have a talk with your manager about the working process, stating that you are unsure of whether he and the organization are satisfied.

There is a good chance that he views you as flexible and delivering value; two things that usually resonate in an organization.

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A living application may never be 100% complete. The more people use it, the more new features they may want.

While it's nice to be able to say 'finally, project complete', in reality, most of my applications get to 'good enough' and I'm seldom given enough time to refactor and polish it to perfection.

I've found the trick is to not get too attached to my code - only be as attached as needed to get what the boss needs done.

If the boss has me digging holes and filling them in again, then that's fine as long as I'm being paid for it.

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Well you did say it yourself

in the eyes of the manager(who is not technically minded, as he works in marketing), but it actually means that it's at least an extra afternoon's work, if not a couple of days,

If you haven't done so, explain to them in a polite but convincing matter that even small changes in the functionality of a project can mean a big core functionality change that often takes long to re-do, suggest you need to spend more time planning out carefully each project in order to maximize your team's efficiency.

Now as for the "pointless" projects, with all due respect but

  • Your manager obviously doesn't think they are trivial otherwise he wouldn't waste company's resources on them.
  • You need to suck it up regardless since all of us are every now and then called to handle some tasks that we are not particularly interested in but we have to as part of our job. Just make sure those are the exception and not the rule, otherwise it can become unbearable rather than a nuisance like you describe it now.

Lastly, about receiving credit when it is due, you said it yourself you are the only guy capable of doing what you do bridging the 2 departments, you get credit de facto for those since you are the only one possible to have done those marketing/tech projects to begin with.

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