Friday, October 17, 2014

Work: Late Night Work

Just finished some night work. Nothing like a period of time where no one else is on to distract you from work. I always feel like I easily do about a day's worth of work within a couple hours. 

For one thing, I noticed that the type of people who seem to talk forever rarely work the extra hours. Not that I'm complaining because I get a lot more work done. But I always wonder what goes through their heads that make them have to repeat everything multiple times within the same conversation. I even have one person who keeps telling me how to do my work that is not even related to that person.

For example, we would have a conversation about what work needs to be done. The work is to get Jobs A, B, and C completed by Day 10. Her job is to make sure Job B is completed by Day 5. Her requirements is that it will take 3 days. So, working backwards, Job A has to be completed by Day 2.

For some reason as I explain to another person if they can finish their work in 2 days, person B has to reiterate that it is important that they get 3 days. As we complete the details of Job A, person B has to interject that if they cannot finish in 2 days that they cannot finish their work by Day 5.

What always gets me to practice some calm is that historically group B has always finished their work within 1 day for the last 2 years. Each time, she stresses that they need 3 days which I always give them. I have tried different methods to figure out what her concerns are. I've tried asking directly, providing the contingency plan if the different groups cannot meet their committed dates, and another minor differences.

Another time, I always trying to get a timeline from the testing team. This disruptive deployment needs to be put into place so I am trying to gather the preliminary duration that each group needs so that I can determine around what date we can deploy. For some reason, they cannot give me a duration unless I give them which date we can deploy.

Confused, I try to explain them that I need their duration so that I can determine when the deploy date. Yet the manager continues to stay on her story that she needs to know when the deployment date is so that she can work backwards from that. Afterwards, I even checked with a few other people in the meeting offline to see if perhaps I was not making any sense. They seemed to understand what I was asking, and eventually I was able to piece together a plan without the manager of the test team.

What made matters worse was that the timeline overlapped with another priority. In the next meeting, I had to figure out a contingency plan. Here, she gives me another roadblock in that she cannot have the code change until after that priority is completed. I stated that is not a problem so we will just have to drop code after that is done. Although not exactly a real problem, she somehow things this is a show stopper and keeps repeating that they will not approve the work plan because they cannot meet my initial plan. I repeat that I understand why they cannot meet it, so we have not changed to a new date given the new information. Yet, she will still not approve the new date because it does not meet the INITIAL plan, emphasizing "initial."

Sometimes, I just do not understand why I have to go through these types of people. I wonder if they ever listen to themselves. I have found that it is just easier to ignore these people and just accept that it is the way things are. Unfortunately for audit reasons, I just have to keep asking then escalating to get the approval. 

I think most other people have already arrived at this conclusion. When I try to ask for alternate methods of handling these matters, I seem to only get a smile, a pat on the head, and a shrug. With the proper people, I seem to be able to hold my meetings within 15 minutes and get the work done with higher quality and efficiency. With teams that just include a couple of these talkers, my meetings take up to an hour. I have even timed a couple meetings and found that they take 30 of those minutes. An additional 15 just to respond to them.

One minor change that I have been able to implement is that I know which topics impact which group, so I get all the quick topics first. Once one of the talkers start, I start signalling that the people not pertinent to the discussion to drop/leave the meeting. I've let them know that I'll forward any information if it impacts them.

As a result, I find that I have one of the better attended meetings in my team. They also come prepared and ready with their plans. I have tried to explain this to my team, but for some reason they also like to repeat things until it has been beaten to a pulp. Yet what can I say, they've been doing this for years. Somehow we manage to stay afloat yet executives wonder we never get ahead. The continuous reorganizations do not help either.