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I was recently hired for this awesome job. My boss is in another location in the country which requires me to teleconference with her. Her time zone is a few hours behind mine and since she is so busy in the morning, she tends to call in the afternoon. Unfortunately, this means that she usually calls towards the end of my shift.

Our conversations/her training usually last around two hours. Due to the way she speaks, it's impossible getting a break in the conversation, especially since I'm not really assertive. I'm usually the last person at work because of this. She is so sweet too so I feel awful for cutting the conversation short. I expect our conversations to be shorter the longer I am at this job.

But in the meantime, do you have any suggestions on how to approach this with her? Sometimes before the conversation starts, I let her know what time I have to leave, but that doesn't change much.

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    Are the conversations about one topic for the full length or could it be splitted into multiple shorter topics? – XtremeBaumer Jun 29 '18 at 13:27
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    I believe this question would be more appropriate on The Workplace, since it deals with working with people -- particularly a senior role -- in alternate locations. The best answers might need to deal with more than interpersonal matters, such as meeting length, changing work hours, etc. – Bloodgain Jun 29 '18 at 20:00
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    Is your end time a hard constraint (contract limits your hours, last train home, whatever)? If so, does she know this? – Monica Cellio Jun 30 '18 at 0:24
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If you can't change the timing of these phone calls, then whenever you start the call make sure to warn your boss of your time limits.

Hi Boss! Before we start I just want to give you a heads up that I need to leave by 5pm. I'll keep an eye on the clock to make sure we don't go over.

Then you continue your conversation as normal. If she doesn't keep track of the time, then you'll need to say something. You say that it's impossible to get a break in the conversation, so you may need to just cut her off and interrupt. This will mean you'll have to be assertive too.

Hey, Boss, I'm sorry to cut you off but I really need to get going. Can we continue this conversation tomorrow? When is a good time for me to call you?

It may be uncomfortable, but if you are serious about keeping your schedule, then you will need to push back some.

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First off: any meeting that lasts more than an hour (some would say 45 minutes) is poorly planned. I would NOT mention that to your boss. Try to generate an agenda for these calls so that you both can stay on topic rather than just jabbering for two hours.

Over the course of my career, I've frequently found myself offsetting my work day to more closely align with that of any remote teams or coworkers. At one job, I worked with a team with a seven hour time difference. Not impossible to handle, but if I had tried to plan a meeting in my afternoon (late at night for them), I probably would've been skewered. Suggesting an alternate time for the call is a good idea.

Since you're new in this position, I'd be very careful saying things like "I have to go at X time" to your boss, as this can come across as being lazy or uncommitted. A better solution may be to propose an alternate meeting time, perhaps an hour earlier than your current arrangement, and make sure you have an agenda ready. This is crucial to having brief, useful meetings.

Also, it's not clear from your post if these calls are scheduled, or if your manager just calls when it is convenient. If it's the former, proposing an alternate time is perfectly acceptable. If the latter, well, suggest to her that the call should be scheduled. If you're too uncomfortable to suggest this directly to her, create a meeting on your Outlook (or whatever) calendar, with yourself and your manager as the attendees. She can move it on her calendar or propose an alternate time.

Remember that managers have multiple employees, and typically also "real work" to handle in addition to managing. You'll probably be doing her a favor by setting expectations on times and duration. (ProTip: "setting expectations" is key to success in every career.)

Important

This is as much her problem as it is yours. Part of being a manager, working with a geographically distributed team, is handling time differences. This has been a solved problem for decades. And, she may be as flustered as you are, but unaware of the difficulties it's causing.

/rant.

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The problem seems to be that these conversations go on too long and you say you can't find a break in the conversation.

I would suggest to help your boss create a break in the conversation since you are having trouble cutting off the conversation. If there is like 10 minutes before you need to go, say something like...

Hey, I need to go soon so can you try to wrap up this point/topic/thought.

This signals to your boss that you need to go soon but allows them to end the conversation themselves. This may make your boss avoid opening another topic and finish the conversation but if your boss brings up another topic during this, ask your boss to write it down to continue that topic the next day and have them finish their previous topic.

If there is also still time left after they wrap it up, go over what they talked about or review what you plan on discussing next time.

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