There are two type of people in the office. There are managers, or the bosses, who work on a schedule filled with hour-long meetings.Then, there are makers. Makers need larger time blocks to get projects completed.
In this episode, Jessica Stone and Dallas Wells discuss how PrecisionLender has adopted this concept when scheduling our meetings, and they explore ways to make it work in your bank.
Dallas: Hi, and welcome to The Purposeful Banker, the podcast brought to you by PrecisionLender where we discuss the big topics on the minds of today’s best bankers. Dallas and Jess are here with you today. Thank you for joining us.
Jess: Today we’re talking about the Manager’s Schedule versus the Maker’s Schedule. Now, this is a topic that’s really shaped the way we work here at PrecisionLender, so we thought we would share it with you. Back at the end of 2015 our CEO, Carl Ryden, wrote an internal blog post for the team sharing an article that really resonated with him. He’d come across an article from English computer scientist, venture capitalist, and essayist, Paul Graham, who Carl said is one of his heroes.
Back in 2009 Paul Graham wrote an article called Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule and in it he talked about really there are two types of schedules, Manager’s and Maker’s, so the Manager’s is usually for bosses. It’s embodied in kind of the traditional appointment book. Each day is sectioned off into one-hour intervals and you can block off one hour, or a couple hours for tasks as you need to. Really, in that way it’s pretty easy to find people to meet with or put schedules on each other’s calendars. You just kind of find an open schedule, book it, and you’re done. He said most powerful people are on the Manager’s Schedule. They say they want to have a meeting and everyone else comes to that meeting.
He said there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers, and so those are the Makers he mentions. Those types of people generally prefer to use time in units of a half day, or a day, large chunks, because you really can’t write or program well in units of an hour, hardly enough time to get started, so they like those big groups. In addition, there’s this cascading effect. If you have a meeting that you already know is going to be right in the middle of your afternoon block that you usually get a lot of things done, you might be less likely to start something really ambitious in the morning, knowing that you really don’t even have the time to finish it at the end of the day.
What I found really interesting in this article is Paul Graham said that back when he was working at his own startup in the 90s he actually had both a Maker’s Schedule and a Manager’s Schedule in one day, in that he used to program from after dinner until about 3 AM, then he would go to bed and wake up and about 11 AM till dinner he’d do what he called business stuff. He was really fitting two of those into one. I think, unlike Paul Graham, most of us probably want to get a little sleep and maybe focus on one of these types of schedules over the other.
Dallas: After Carl wrote that blog post and shared the article it rung a bell with several of us internally, as well, especially when we think about the different roles within PrecisionLender. We have a team of developers who really build the tool that the rest of us sell and service. Those are, in our company, really the true Makers, and we never really realized how much they must hate it when we would book a meeting for them in the middle of the afternoon. We needed 15 minutes to get an update on something they’re working on or to give our input on something. We just fit it into the empty slots in our calendar where we were scheduling around all of our other meetings internally and with clients, and we just ruined an entire afternoon to have a 15 minute update.
It made us, number one, more cognizant of just being respectful of those people who are working on little different schedules and why they are so reluctant to schedule those kinds of meetings, and why at the very beginning of the day or the very end of the day they’d do their stand-up meetings, and they wanted all those discussions to be a part of or kind of adjacent to those things.
That was the first outcome. The second one, though, is that we decided on our team, The Client Success Team, so we really handle servicing all of the PrecisionLender clients. We decided to do a little experiment and so we started what we called Meetingless Mondays. What we were doing there is, because we needed a little bit of both kinds of time, not to the degree that Paul Graham did, but we not only have to talk to clients, we also then get tasks from those, projects we’re going to work on, research we’re going to do, data we’re going to gather, so we needed time, consecutive time rather than little 15, 30 minute gaps between meetings, to actually work on that stuff. We decided to just make Monday off limit for meetings and to use that time to go make stuff. Do the work that we’re supposed to be doing for our clients.
Jess: Awesome. Dallas, relating this back to banking, who would you say are the Managers and who are the Makers when thinking about a banking institution?
Dallas: I think they’re a lot like our role that we struggle with where there’s a little bit of both. I think, obviously, most people fall into that. Very few people are just doing meetings all day. There’s also some work to be done in between. There’s definitely a couple of factions, and you’re going to fall somewhere on that spectrum. What we typically see is the producers in the bank, so lenders, branch staff, those people who are supposed to be out there growing the business. What they struggle with, the complaints that we hear, are that they need some of that Maker time. Really, for them it’s time to create proposals for clients, to go visit clients. They need these large blocks of time to have meaningful discussions, to be able to travel places. They have a hard time actually just getting out of the office, because they’re being scheduled for all these committee and task force meetings, again, randomly fitting them into those Manager schedules.
We talk a lot on this podcast about back of the bank, front of the bank stuff. It’s an overly simplified way of looking at it, but I think that a lot of the back of the bank folks, those who are working on operational stuff, those who are doing risk management, a lot of those jobs are meetings, discussions. That’s how their schedule tends to be broken up. That was my life in the bank for the most part. I did some of both of those roles, but most of it was in the finance group, and it was back-to-back meetings almost every day. We’d want to talk to the lenders about something and we’d just schedule it 3 o’clock in the afternoon, which means their afternoon is now stuck in the office. Same kind of thing where it’s folks needing some time and people just looking at open spots on the calendar and not really thinking about how that impacts the whole rest of the day.
Jess: Dallas, thinking a little bit more about how this might work at a bank, any advice you have to someone who maybe is thinking about employing this kind of schedule approach at their own bank.
Dallas: We’ve talked about some productivity tips and one of those that we thought was really useful and helpful was to use your calendar to block off these blocks of time to actually get work done. I think that’s where the starts is, even if you can’t get everybody else on board, your calendar is yours and if you block off some occasional time there for you to do those Maker-type tasks that will be a huge help. It’s a good first baby step into making something work here.
Obviously, there’s going to be things come up. Our Meetingless Mondays, I can’t remember actually truly having a Meetingless Monday. There are things that come up, and when you’re working on things there’s discussions that need to be had and that will pop up during the day. Sometimes clients just need to talk to you on a Monday. That’s okay. You make exceptions for that. Your time that you block off, you can’t block off every afternoon every day of the week, right? That’s not going to work, but you can take blocks here and there and just set those aside, especially when you have something really important to do. Make it a priority.
Most bankers live sort of like I do. They live by the calendar. I was joking with my wife about how if she wanted me to do something she just needed to send me a calendar appointment, because I blindly follow it. The thing comes up, tells me where to be next, and I dial into that number, or I go to that meeting, or go to the grocery store if she needs me to. Bankers are a lot the same way, right? The calendar dictates the life. Put things on there. Here’s my two hours to get this thing put together for this customer and that way it doesn’t just get put off for whenever you have a spare 15 minutes. Really, it takes that full 15 minutes to kind of get into the flow.
The other thing, though, is if you do have a team that you’re a part of, or especially if you’re leading the team, give this kind of Meetingless Monday concept a shot. When you’re scheduling things a lot of times the times we sent back and forth is like, “Well, I have this Tuesday afternoon and I have this Thursday morning,” and the other person throws back theirs. We’re looking for a match. Setting aside an entire day is really not going to affect that as much as you might think it would. That was what I was leery of is that it would make all the rests of the days all really crammed full of stuff. That hasn’t really been the case. Really, I think it’s a trade off that our group has felt like it was worth it. I’d rather have a couple of really busy days if I get an entire, uninterrupted day to catch up.
We do Mondays just because that’s kind of what fit best for us. You could set aside a full day. Fridays maybe are slow for you. Maybe two consecutive afternoons if you can’t make a full day work. Try something like that with your team and just say, “Hey, everybody put an appointment on your calendar, send it out for your team, and make it something really clear. Ours, I think, says something like, “Client Success Working Day. Do not schedule.” Again, some people ignore that when they need to, but we’ve tried to make it very clear to the rest of the company, “We’re working on things.” We’ve seen this idea now spread to some other teams in the company. They like the idea and they like those Meetingless Mondays. Those have become kind of sacred for folks.
Those are the two big ones, it’s just try some baby steps and see what you can get out of it. Again, the meetings are a lot of times necessary, but they can’t take priority. If you make a list of your most important things, I doubt all those committee meetings are all going to be at the top of the list. At some point you got to make some things, and at some point you have to service your customers, so prioritize it accordingly. Jess, just curious, anything that you’d like to share based on your experience with Meetingless Mondays?
Jess: Yeah, I think some of them kind of echo what you’ve covered, but try to tackle your biggest, most challenging work that really requires that big span of open time. Get in the zone. Do whatever you need to do to make you most productive, whether it’s shutting your door or putting on music. When you do get that time to yourself try to make it as productive as you can. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, what have you, to really get the most out of it.
Another thing that, as I was doing research and looking up some other articles for this podcast, I found a CEO who talked about how she was trying to adopt the Manager versus Maker Schedule. What she had said that I thought was kind of cool is that every one of her days are blocked off for different types of things. For example, from 8:30-11:00 is when she schedules internal meetings; 11-12 every day is when she catches up on paperwork before she heads out to lunch; 1:30-5:30 was external meetings, things like that. I thought that was pretty interesting that, even if you can’t, as we’ve said, get the whole team to say, “Okay, every Monday is just heads-down work, you can take those baby steps, as we mentioned, and maybe it’s something like, “Hey, whenever we do internal meetings, let’s try to have them be first thing in the morning.” Everyone’s on board so that way you know that you can schedule those external meetings for after lunch or going out to meet that client across town, things like that. Adopting, finding different ways, maybe doing research on how other folks have done that, I think, and when you do get that time just use it to the best of your ability.
Dallas: I think the one thing I’ll add to wrap this up is, the internal struggles of the banking, just the sheer number of meetings, that’s the big struggle here. Make sure, if you are one of those lenders who’s out there dealing with customers, most of them live their lives as Makers. They’re building something. Even if they’re running a business and they have a lot of meetings, too, remember that they have some very important Maker time.
Whether they’re servicing clients as a service business, or they’re a manufacturer, a doctor, whoever those people may be, be respectful of that schedule, too. I think just the easiest kind of hack around that is if you have to meet with them or call them don’t just look at your calendar and say, “Oh, I have this 15-minute slot,” that’s right smack dab in the middle of the day somewhere. The best times are right at the beginning of the day, right at the end of the day, so before they get in the middle of something else so it doesn’t disrupt and break up what might otherwise be a big block of time. If you have to, maybe right on either side of lunch. Make those your times that you try to talk to your customers, if at all possible so that they can do their thing also. That will help you fit your schedule into bigger blocks and maybe allow them to do the same thing.
Jess: That’s a really good point. Okay. Well, I think that will do it for this topic today. Thank you, Dallas, and thank you to everyone for taking the time to listen. If you like what you’ve been hearing, please make sure to subscribe to our feed in iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher, and we love to get ratings and feedback. You can always find these episodes, and we’ll also add our show notes from today’s topic at precisionlender.com/podcast. Thanks for listening. Until next time, I’m Jess Stone, and this is The Purposeful Banker podcast.