As I’ve mentioned, I’m squatting temporarily in a management job vacated by a beloved and longtime editor at TIME. The job entails overseeing a section of the magazine called Life, which is the part of the magazine everyone under 40 skips to. (I’m kidding, boss. I totally read that whole cover story on clean energy.) The section covers—well, life: health, fads, parenting, technology, money, philanthropy. It features lively graphics, great photos, useful tips. Does it sound like I’m selling? I am. Read the section. It pays my salary. And then ask your employer to buy an ad.
Anyway, after a week in this role, I now understand that managers have but one function: meetings. Meetings, meetings, meetings. Do you people do anything else? My Outlook calendar is teeming with meetings, and those are only the ones that are formally scheduled—not the impromptu ones that occur when people drop in with business. Used to be my colleagues stopped by for gossip and candy. Now they want to discuss a layout.
In a weird way, these meetings are kind of fun. As a writer, I’m usually focused on one project: me. My assignments, my sources, my deadlines. For an inherently social person, it can be a fairly isolating and isolated job. Suddenly I’m surrounded by people and talk and ideas and opinions. It’s sort of what you imagine when you go to work for a famous newsmagazine, but not really something I experience in my regular role.
When I was backpacking through Europe as a college junior, I met a gaggle of American boys who had just finished up their own tour. We were about to head to Bologna, where they’d been. “What’s it like?” we asked.
“AFC,” they answered. “These towns in Europe, they’re all the same. Another @#$%ing church.”
AFM was my initial impression of managment: another effing meeting. But I just came from a really interesting one in which some very smart people sat around a big table and talked about the news of the day. That’s pretty cool, right? It didn’t even involve PowerPoint.
Go ahead, managers, make my day. Are your days all about AFM, or is management actually just one big party?