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Submitted by peterlevy on



First of all, although I've posted a few times, I neglected to express my appreciation for the tremendous content that Mark & Michael deliver every week, so I must do so now. Thanks a bunch guys, I'm a better manager because I stumbled on to your podcasts.

Now my question - my O3s do not elicit much personal information/getting-to-know-you stuff from my reports. The conversation is very much focussed on office stuff - projects, stumbling blocks, etc.

Discussing that stuff is great, of course, but should I be concerned about, and set out to change, the lack of personal information sharing?

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Peter -

Thanks for the kind words. A thank you like the one you wrote will serve us well: "I'm a better manager." We're making a difference! THAT is enough to make us call each other and say, "hey, did you see that Peter said we helped him become a better manager? COOL!"

To answer your question: NOPE.

it might be that something you said, or questions you asked, leaned them in that direction. Or, maybe not. Maybe it's not a sharing bunch... that's for you to determine. One of my CEO clients doesn't do much of that, in part because he knows everyone pretty well (and I agree). On the other hand, he feels he absolutely COULD bring up something in that realm and have no problem with it.

If they've gone in the work direction, that's fine. Pay attention, and if you feel you have blind spots about what else is affecting their lives, pay even more attention. There's nothing wrong with asking for the names of their kids or grand kids after a weekend or vacation.

Also, try sharing a story from home. Something that taught you something about work, or something that you were doing with your family when you had a thought about work. See if that helps.

If it never happens, it's fine. Just make sure they always know that the meeting is about them, and for them, to get guaranteed time with you. If it happens, bless you. If not, the work will get better.

Don't be concerned. Test the waters lightly, and let it go if there's no movement.

It's a privilege to be asked,


Brent's picture

Also, one-on-one's don't completely eliminate other communication with employees. One can always ask more personal questions at the water cooler, while microwaving lunch, while standing in front of a window and staring logingly at the beautiful blue sky outside....

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Thanks much for the responses, Mark & Brent. I'm very comfortable with the O3's 'shape' right now, and I'm sure the personal side of the discussions will grow slowly.

I'm stereotyping, I know, but I reckon Jamaicans are on average a tad more reserved about personal info. than Americans.

Thanks again,

may's picture

One-on-One is a regular practice in my company. We have them at all level: peer, boss& direct reports, skip, and even between departments (usually with people of same level).

From my experiences, I found that the level of personal issues touched in each session depends a lot on the individual personality, relationship, and also the correlation of the time available to the pressing work issues.

I really like Mark's suggestion of throwing in the word "overall" once a month or so. It opens up the opportunity to discuss beyond day-to-day issues. And I will be deliberately using that technique and see what difference it makes.

One other thing that I incorporate once a month is the discussion on their personal development goals. That usually a good conversation starter, and help both them and I keep on track.

My only complain about One-on-One at my company is that it seems like the people higher in the organization are "too busy" to have O3 with their direct reports. So some new people who report to them miss the opportunity to find out how beneficial it is.

I'll send them a link to the Manager Tools podcasts. Should send to my boss first...

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Your post reminds me of the C-suite executives who tell me, "my people need training, but I don't have time."

Yeah, right.

On the other hand, many execs will say that their directs ought to not need such hand holding, or any more info. It's wrong, but that's what they've said.

Good luck with your boss... TREAD LIGHTLY.