Working in a company where management is a marginal activity and ALL resources have a primary role to be 80% utilized (~ any day where you can bill you should using the 2080 rule)

Working in a company where geography and utilization mean that I have never met one of my reports and I see most of the others so in frequently as to be never (never met my report in Melbourne, based in Bangkok but have spent the last 4 months in Jakarta). This has a two fold problem of lack of proximity and a time zone swing of 4 hours.

Working in a culture where natural sharing with your boss is not normal

Q: has anybody successfully applied O3's in such an environment? what did you do and how

I have tried to "sell" the idea, distributed MT's O3 template to be used and set up recurring meetings. The first 3 weeks went well and then I got sent to Jakarta. The project is intense and meetings are not planned so often get called to an executive or working level meeting with colleagues/vendors with ~30 minutes notice. This means my personal commitment to always hit the same time is often compromised.


sholden's picture
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David this definitely sounds challenging.

I have done well I think doing 1on1s with my three remote team members in DC while I am based out of San Diego. But it does require me to completely block out the time (currently scheduled for Thursday). If I do miss them, I try to reschedule them ASAP.

I hope others have been insight and experience.


bflynn's picture

Let me suggest that the real challenge you have isn't the distance. You would have O3s over the phone, invest in Skype or Vonage, perhaps with video chat if your people are visually inclined. These are well known solutions, which I'm sure you know about.

You said things worked well until you moved to Jakarta, which I presume was associated with starting a new project. The problem I hear is that you're not being allowed to keep to your own schedule...others own your time.

Do your best with O3s. Use a set protocol so that if you have to break a meeting, no one waits - "if either of us is going to miss, send an email". Additionally, have a set protocol for the make up meeting time, perhaps saying "If we miss a call, we'll try again 1 hour later, then 2 hours after that." This way, if you get pulled into an executive meeting, you automatically have two more chance to make your call the same day. If you're going to miss the later calls, you still have to send another email.

For the time window, shift your time a little. You can probably arrive early or stay late once a week to do these calls. When you do, find an isolated place with a door where you won't be disturbed - ask a receptionist or secretary where you can find a place like this. Close the door and conduct your calls. You'll gain the additional advantage that by doing this outside the normal time, you won't be expected to drop everything and go into a new meeting.

I'd also suggest that you evaluate if its possible for you to push back a little on some of the meetings. Your time is also needed to accomplish your goals, part of which is keeping in contact with your folks. These meetings are probably also hampering your results, which is the ultimate goal of any effective worker, manager or not.


sophie74's picture
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You may not still be a member at MT (since 2007) I’m struggling with the same issue and think it’s such a great idea to have those calls after regular work hours.  ;) thanks again 

Simon Flowers's picture
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Dear David - I have seen studies on remote management showing the loss of productivity and turnover based on "perceived distance" of the manager. The key point here is "perceived" - the geography and timezone can put you at a disadvantage but through measures like great one-on-ones you close that perceived gap.  In short you must do weekly one-on-ones, with a remote team it is even more important.  And as others say you must do it on video - Skype, Webex or others - so that you have a good face-to-face connection.

In recent roles I have had up to a dozen OoOs roughly 1/3 USA, 1/3 Europe (where I am), 1/3 Japan - an I know the weekly OoOs were truly appreciated.

Timing is a challenge with busy work and especially with travel and week-long meetings. I found that having many of my OoOs on Friday enabled me to stick with them as it tended to be a travel day or quieter day. This is not the MT recommended day but I found it was a rhythm that enabled a higher attending frequency.  Or when travelling I often had time in airport layover or train to/fro the airport to catch up on O3.  The other good suggestion someone else made is one evening a week where you or report agree to do O3 in personal time with a proviso that it is fine to email to cancel if personal needs arise.


Good luck.