Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Manager Hat vs. My Worker Hat

I mentioned a while back that one of the podcasts that I've been listening to is Simple Programmer, by John Sonmez. He gave some advice to a listener, and I've had it rolling around in my head since I heard it from Episode 120: Do I Have To Be An Entrepreneur To Be Successful. Just recently I've started to walk in that piece of advice.

I may get some of the particulars incorrect, but the overall gist will be in the spirit of the exchange.

John told the guy that to make progress in his extra goals, he needed to have the ability to wear two hats.  As I remember them, they were:
  1. A Manager Hat 
  2. A Worker Hat (I lovingly call this one the Doer or Executor Hat so if you see me use those alternate forms you’ll know to what personality I’m referring to). 

The Manager Hat:

This is the hat that you wear when you're deciding what should be accomplished by your Worker. So effectively, what he was saying is that you need to take some time to plan out your week. Be deliberate about setting goals for what would get accomplished during that week so you can keep sight of them. I've chosen Sunday night at 9:30 for this hat to adorn my head.

The Worker Hat:

The other hat he mentioned you needed to pick up is a Worker Hat (or a Doer Hat). This is the hat you put on once the Manager Hat comes off. You wear this hat for the rest of the week. Once this hat comes on you simply execute the plan unquestioningly. You don’t deviate from it, you just simply do what your Manager has planned for your Doer.

Once you get through the week, wash, rinse, and repeat for the following week.

In Practice (as I have experienced it thus far):

As I have tried to operate in this, I’ve discovered that my Manager always has unrealistic expectations of what my Worker can accomplish. Big surprise right? That’s often the case in the real world, outside of this little dual personality experiment that I’m doing. So what does that really mean you may ask. Well, for me it’s meant that what my Manager has scheduled for a particular day might not be what my Worker has been able to accomplish for that day. And there isn’t anything scheduled for this thing that my Worker hasn’t finished on the next day coming up.

Sooooo, my Worker had to negotiate with my Manager. The Worker had to tell the Manager, “Hey dude, I’m not done. I haven’t been slacking, it’s just that it’s taking me longer… or life has happened and inserted itself in the middle of your pre-scheduled routine, thus disrupting the schedule."  If you’re anything like me, you’re trying to accomplish these things in the midst of working at your day job, raising a family, and potentially working on these things with other people. Any one of those three things tend to try and get in the middle of your Worker accomplishing what your Manager has laid out. It happens, we’re human, and plans may need to change.

So how have my Manager and Worker adjusted expectations of what will get accomplished. Well, the Worker starts out the week working diligently on those things scheduled by the Manager. And if the Worker isn’t able to complete a day's tasks, then the unfinished task/s get pushed to the next day by the Worker, and the things that were scheduled for the next day get pushed accordingly through the week. The Manager has placed a bucket at the end of the week to catch anything that gets pushed completely out of the week, and things are pulled from that bucket for scheduling the next week.

This way, the Worker has some sense of continuity and doesn’t get disgruntled with not having completed anything at the end of the week, but has spent it thrashing about trying to accomplish everything (when that might not be possible). It’s important for progress and the Worker’s feelings and sense of accomplishment to complete things and get them behind him. If the schedule needs to be adjusted then so be it, the Manager needs to compromise.

This has made the things that I've been trying to accomplish more concrete. And by "more concrete" I mean that there are very real time slots for work to slip into, and expectations on myself that those things scheduled (and only those things scheduled) should be completed.

Life is going to happen. Your plans will get disrupted. You need to be able to adjust, and in the adjustment not loose focus on what your goals are.

In the closing, figuring out the balance between your Manager Hat and your Worker Hat can be Detective work for a while. But in the end you can find some happy medium and hopefully some cadence as to how much you’ll be able to accomplish in your upcoming week.

No comments:

Post a Comment