Disclaimer: This post will use some creative freedom to binarize roles, in the real world things are not as simple to navigate and they range from a gradient of possible values instead of being simply binary.
I am not the first writing about this. I won't be the last.
After putting in some thought I am ready...
Are you prepared to read it? Ok. Here it goes.
There are two types of roles.
Meeting negative roles. Meeting positive roles.
Meeting negative roles are usually called Makers most of their work deliverables happen outside the context of meetings.
Meeting positive roles are usually called Managers, most of their work deliverables happen inside the context of meetings.
If you are unsure which type of role you are... I can certainly help you with that!
How long would you keep your job if starting tomorrow you only had meetings, day in, day out, paired with some nice but brief breaks?
If you said: "hm, let me think... a couple weeks to a couple months!?". Your role is most likely a maker one. Meaning if you stop doing the work outside meetings, then you stop delivering. If you stop delivering your performance degrades and eventually you are let go.
If you said: "hm. a few months... maybe a year!?" or "jeesh, that's what I've been doing since... let me see... since forever!?". Your role is most likely a manager one. Meaning your work is delivered inside the context of meetings, you coordinate, collaborate, draft action items, plan the next quarter, etc.
A big challenge with the work environment is the daily collision of these working groups.
As a maker your day is comprised by medium to large sized creatives blocks, from two to at most four of them. During that time you seat your buttocks in the chair, focus, do some Deep Work and get something done.
When makers get distracted it costs them a long time to go back to what is so called "the zone". A state of mind where you can concentrate in the problem at hand and a possible solution. You stop reacting to external stimuli. Messages, notifications, emails will be checked later.
Managers on the other hand operate on a different level. They play a different game. Imagine a game of Tetris, where your calendar is the game area and your meetings are the blocks of the game. You want each block to line up in a nice way. So you get a proper break between meetings. So you can get a rare once-a-week two hour block to focus on something.
When meeting positive roles book meetings in the middle of the day of meeting negative roles, there is a high likelihood that half of that day is lost for the makers. The managers moves on and continue with their regular schedule.
There are several possible and proposed solutions for this problem.
- Establish a company policy where it's okay to decline meeting invites.
- Book your maker time and manager time in advance.
- Have a process in place to shield makers.
- Keep reminding human beings that these worlds exist and collide everyday so both of them can find a way to happily co-exist.
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