This site explores scenarios of corporate dysfunction that can derail your career. The Navigator provides guidance of how to advance your career despite these obstacles.

My manager allows no time for lunch with back-to-back meetings

A Reader Writes:

My manager has a boundless energy and is known as a “Corporate Soldier” due to her non-stop work ethic.  She schedules back-to-back group meetings throughout the day and I often go without eating lunch.  I’m afraid that if I complain to her about this, she will view me as a light weight.  She has given me many opportunities and views me as “high potential”.  How can I have my needs met while still be on the fast-track of advancement?

Dear Reader,

Since we are on the topic of lunch, let’s peel back the layers of this onion, shall we?  By your own admission you want to be on the “fast track for advancement” so you should consider doing all that you can to have quick nutrients on hand before approaching your manager with changes to her meeting habits.  Have you considered prepared meals in Tupperware?  Bags of peanuts?  Protein shakes and bars?  Bacon-wrapped dates? While these MREs are no substitute for hour-long lunches with your buds, they can be consumed in the stolen minutes between meetings and allow you to be viewed as someone who always puts the business objectives of the company first.

The navigator offers the above advice with the assumption that your chock-a-block meetings are mission-critical and that everyone in attendance provides their expertise because your company is going through a merger or acquisition, or a new product is about to launch with no time to lose.   But if they are like most meetings where the manager has bought into the consensus zeitgeist in which every non-essential employee must attend and opine on topics that they know nothing about, it’s time to speak up with some suggestions:

  • Ask her to keep 30 minutes free at an agreed upon time for all attendees so they can eat lunch
  • Suggest that she allow meeting attendees to bring their own food to these meetings
  • Suggest that lunch be ordered in

The downside of the above is that you may be asked to coordinate ordering in lunch for the group from now on.  Or, she may agree to a meeting-free lunch reprieve, but expects you to stay later in the day to make up for this time.

Sometimes, the need for lunch is not only about eating, but a need for alone-time because you may be an introvert who draws energy from solitude.  Or you truly desire a less intense work culture.   If so, consider a different position or company.

the NavigatorMy manager allows no time for lunch with back-to-back meetings
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