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I work in devops for a central team, and am involved in a project that has multiple smaller teams working together. As the devops personnel for this project, I'm required to be at multiple meetings a day to give updates on the status of our deployment preparations.

These meetings are valuable to everyone involved.. except for me. A large portion of these meetings are centered around asking for updates from my piece of the project, what I've done and time estimates of new work, which is understandable. The issue is that I end up giving the same updates in 3 different meetings over the course of a single day. This happens multiple times a week, every week.

While my position isn't traditional software engineering, it is an engineering position nonetheless requiring planning and a frame of mind much the same as when a developer is focused on solving a bug. Unfortunately, this means that it can take a bit to get back into actually getting work done after being interrupted by a meeting.

I don't want to come off as a slacker who just can't take advantage of short time-slots (30 minutes to an hour between meetings). But at the same time, I need my 3 hours a day back so I can actually finish the work I keep talking about.

How can I professionally bring this up to not just my manager, but the two other project managers who run each meeting, all wanting updates from me?

  • Is your manager present at all these meetings too? – user34587 Sep 19 '17 at 14:44
  • My manager is present in the meeting for my internal team updates, only. He doesn't attend the other meetings. – MrDuk Sep 19 '17 at 14:45
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    The thing is, meetings take away from everyone's actual "work" time. But since most people aren't solo, sole-proprietor operations, there is a need to also coordinate efforts. No one wants to be in meetings. Not the managers, not the person calling the meeting, not the bosses. So telling someone you have better things to do is going to be met by "Yeah, join the club" and no sympathy or empathy, and certainly there is a very, very good chance that you're not going to be accommodated, mostly because everyone else at the company has already unsuccessfully tried to dodge attending meetings. – PoloHoleSet Sep 19 '17 at 14:47
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    Keep in mind, the first part of my career was in government, so maybe I'm a bit too cynical about this. – PoloHoleSet Sep 19 '17 at 14:51
  • PoloHoleSet -- look up "Maker's Schedule vs. Manager's Schedule". There is need for coordination and communication, but for the people doing the work there's as much need for uninterrupted time to focus and work. Half an hour between meetings isn't enough to get into most technical problems; I can easily see half of that just getting all the right tools in place and figuring out where you were. – Rob Crawford Oct 26 '18 at 19:35
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I was caught in a similar scenario not too long ago. I was involved in many meeting and giving very similar updates at those meeting, so I understand you concern.

What I did was talk to my immediate supervisor and told them with the amount of meeting I am attending, I won't be able to meet my deadline because a lot of my time is being used giving status updates. I told my supervisor that either I needed to spend less time in meetings, or have my workload adjusted. Our solution was that I would report to my supervisor and they would attend the meetings.

  • You have a very good supervisor. Usually that discussion opens the "You think you have it bad? You should see my meeting schedule!" can of worms and another 30 minutes of your life you can't reclaim is lost (in addition to the meeting times). – PoloHoleSet Sep 19 '17 at 14:50
  • Yep have your boss attend the meetings so you can do your work, or just send both of the PM's and your boss a status update email in place of your attending the meeting. – Mister Positive Sep 19 '17 at 14:50
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    @PoloHoleSet even if they say no, at least you have warned that your work may suffer. – SaggingRufus Sep 19 '17 at 14:51
  • I was remarking more about the pitfall of suddenly getting sucked into a conversation you do not want to be in (like when my dad and my brother's father-in-law compare notes on prostate exams at extended family gatherings). :D Certainly, no harm in raising the issue, other than that. – PoloHoleSet Sep 19 '17 at 14:53
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To bring it up, professionally, just state the problem clearly - as you have done here. Also put this into the context that you understand the necessity for the meetings and just want to find way to make this more efficient (as being unproductive makes you unhappy)

Offer to try some possible solutions with them to see what fits best:

  1. You could just give a status-report and then beginning, and then be excused.

  2. You could periodically send one of your teammates so you share the burden.

  3. You could just keep an updated status-journal they can access from their meetings

  4. Maybe they can move to another schedule, that let´s you have meeting-less days.
  5. They could have a meeting where you only get called when they discover they need you.
  6. Have a short one-on-one daily stand up meeting with someone who goes to those meetings anyways, let him report for you. ...

Also, accept to a part, that you being available in a meeting might be more valuable to them than you being productive.

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