A reader writes:
On most days at work, I have to take part in a three-hour long working group. The point of these meetings is supposed to be to work on changes that are needed for the software system to function, to create new categories in the software system as needed, and to set up the software system services to smaller divisions.
However, the vast majority of the time in these meetings is spent watching my coworker document every single change she makes to the system, and watching her compose emails. Both these tasks and the actual “work” — changes to a system — could easily be done by one person. The rest of us (3 or 4) just sit and watch, sometimes one of us playing secretary. There is a very small amount of useful discussion.
I feel we are wasting an incredible amount of time. I’m bored out of my mind. I know others are too, due to comments I’ve heard and the fact that one coworker has trouble not falling asleep. I’m not doing anything remotely productive and I very rarely learn anything. We are running very behind on the work that needs to be done. My manager says that I need to attend as it’s part of my role.
Your company requires four or five of you to spend three hours a day sitting in a meeting where you watch your coworker document changes to a system? That’s more than one-third of your work day, every day.
I need to say it again: Every day!
What the hell?!
If you’ve explained this to your manager the way you’ve explained it here and she’s still requiring you to attend because it’s “part of your role,” then your manager is incredibly bad at her job and should be stripped of her title, immediately.
If you haven’t explained to her exactly what’s happening at these meetings, you should do that right away. As in, “The working group meetings are not functioning as a working group. We are not working on anything jointly. Instead, we all just sit and watch while Jane documents her software changes when we could be doing ___ instead. These meetings are costing the company a huge amount of money — one-third of each of our salary, in fact. I propose that we end these meetings and instead meet as needed to do the things that this group was originally set up for.”
But if you’ve tried that and gotten nowhere, then what you have on your hands is a manager who is content to watch an incredibly unjustified waste of time and resources rather than doing the work it might take to make a change. If that’s true, then I’d start looking for another job, not only to avoid spending your time this way, but also because you’re working for someone offensively negligent.