Friday, October 24, 2014

What We Do All Day

I'm a middle manager. I'm not afraid to admit it, and I'm not ashamed of being it. I make things happen. On the ground. I advocate for staff, I advocate for the institution. I get to do all kinds of awesome things. I really, really, really enjoy it.

One of the greatest challenges of being a middle manager is the way that a line can be drawn between the kinds of work we do. Between administrative work and what I'll call it production work, between your team and the team of which you're a smaller part.

What is not cool, I tell you it is not cool, is when we think of administrative work as "meetings" and production work as "real work."  Meetings are real work. Say it with me. Meetings are real work. It is my job to go to meetings. It is my real job to go and talk to people. It is my real job to know what is going on in our building and in the larger organization and to talk to people and go to meetings. Meetings are real work.

"Real Work" is real work, too. And meetings take time. In middle management, the challenge is to balance the administrative work (both broadly and of your group specifically) along with the other duties you may have (original cataloging, vendor relations, teaching and reference, assessment, etc. etc.) and for me, also faculty responsibilities for research and scholarship.  That's a lot of stuff. Perhaps another time we'll talk about strategies for managing all these things.

What is not okay is a scenario in which you do administrative work during the day, when other people are around and able to have meetings, and production work at night or in other off hours. That's not okay because the night is not for work. Work time is for work. Night time is for, you know, your life. No.

I insist you have a life even if you do not want one. You need it to make that leap from good at your job to omg so incredibly amazing at your job.

So, case in point. I have about six meetings a week. That's not too many. But sometimes, they come all at once, like yesterday and today. I thought, on Wednesday night, let me just write my blog now, during the baseball game, and then it'll be done and cool cool. But instead I did this:

Which was good. Because it made me feel good. And that's a good use of my time.

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