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Submitted by JohnGMacAskill on


Had some fantastic feedback this morning regarding my O3's that I started in September last year.

A direct was in my office this morning taking me through his first monthly report - thank you Manager Tools Conference! - and he volunteered the following:

1) When it started, he though 'oh my, John obviously thinks I'm not doing my job, he needs to check up on me'. He worried about this to his wife!
2) He now realises he has 4 times a month in that he can discuss vital issues with his boss. He has confidence that he has the opportunity to do so.
3) He feels managed - but in a good way!
4) He feels that it is the first time a manager/supervisor has 'taken an interest' in him and his work.
5) He understood that if you do not do O3's, and reports how can any manager know the performance of his/her direct...he stated 'it's the only way to manage'.

He has made my week, and I gave some feedback about when you provide feedback about my methods, etc.

If I needed any justification of the power of Manager Tools, it was this.

Thank you Mark and Mike, you are not just having great impact on my professional life, but on my directs and ultimately the success of my team and organisation.

mauzenne's picture
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Wonderful, John! All the credit goes to you for DOING IT! Well done!

And thanks for sharing your experience ... maybe your experience will be just the kick some listeners/readers need to get through the initial "pain" of change (the Horstman curve) and enjoy the benefits on the other side.

Again, well done, my friend!

co-Founder, Manager Tools

dmbaldwin's picture

I have just finished two weeks of One-on-Ones. I took the email that was on the website and used it almost verbatim. It was surprising how people reacted. They had almost been waiting for something like this.

The first two rounds have been very productive. I have used the agenda and ideas from the other documents found on the website.

Thanks so much for equipping me to have an impact like this on our people and organization.



ebn305's picture
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I've been doing 03's for 5 months now and have seen terrific results.

At first one particular DR (let's call him Dwayne) was a complete sceptic who openly scorned the practice and wanted to wager large sums of money that they would not last a month.

A great measure of how highly my team now values one-on-ones is how often they agree to come in early, stay late or even come in on the days off to attend meetings.

Guess who was the first to come into the office on his day off for the one-on-one. Yep - Dwayne!

The next challenge is to get my boss to do them with me.

cwatine's picture
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I have begun with O3 with my directs some months ago and it really makes an incredible difference. It was really the right tool for me as I manage two sites (one I am based in, and a distant one).
It allowed me to better "feel" my direct's day to day life, why they succeed or failed with what I am asking for.
The weekly frequency is much better than the monthly frequency I was using in the past.
I now think the next step I have to work with them is "team building". O3 allowed me to know them better and to know better why we lack this teams spirit ...
I really thik O3 and the feedback model allowed me to do a huge step forward in my managerial capacity. I never miss one. I think my directs would not appreciate that !

But there is more ...

I asked one of my site managers to start implementing O3 with his team (there was a tremendous "ambiance" problem on that site as he was rejected by his directs). It was 4 weeks ago.
I coach him on this process.
Here again, we already feel improvement. People have a place to talk and even to give him feedback on his management.
It was also a way to see the "ambiance" problem was only due to very few people.
The site was blocked for sometime and it is improving again, people are accepting the necessity of changes because they have a place to talk about what is happening.

I think I will never be able to thank Mark and Mike for this incredible gift they offered to me and my company.


dmbaldwin's picture


Have a question for you. What do you mean by "ambiance"? Perhaps it's a translation issue. I'd be curious. One of my D.R.'s has an issue -- I think -- of being such good friends (maybe the opposite of your person) that he can't seperate himself a little from the one D.R. that he has. So he struggles with O3's.



Mark's picture
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Leave our boss alone! Any energy you would put into that, put into your own O3s.

I promise - your boss is a bridge too far.


cwatine's picture
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By bad ambiance, I meant no trust between people small groups talking against each other, stupid rumors, etc. Somebody coming from the "outside" would have felt a tension in the air ...

It is now much better, but I wouldn't say there is a team spirit.



dmbaldwin's picture

Greetings Everyone,

I had an interesting conversation today. The guy I report to asked me how the O3's were going. He asked me how many I still had to do. I said that this week I have them all to do. He said, "You mean you are doing these every week?" I answered, "Yes." His response was, "That's cool."

So I guess he is resonating with the O3's even though he hasn't done any yet. I do spend at least 15 minutes a day with him if not longer. So maybe he's thinking that counts. And it probably does.



juliahhavener's picture
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It doesn't count. An O3 is a pretty specific thing. That daily 15 minutes is not a bad thing, but unless you get 10 minutes of it one day, he gets 10 minutes over the next day, and day three shows 10 minutes of 'future' stuff, it doesn't quite meet the criteria.

And good answer - with a bit more chances are he *will* start doing them. My experience with people above me picking up those practices is showing the results - they want to achieve the same things.

dmbaldwin's picture


I know you're right. Hope always springs eternal with me, so thinking about our daily impromptu meetings, makes me try to fit them into our O3's.

Thanks for the reality check.



Mark's picture
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And it's not just's structure. Very few things of great beauty or value are without structure, living or otherwise.


dmbaldwin's picture
cwatine's picture
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More about O3 implementation.

I am just out of a meeting with two managers (one for sales and one for technics) in our other site (at this time, just the Northern company was using O3).

I have presented them the O3 and feedback models. They are enthousiastic about them and will start implementing them soon.

I am thinking about integrating those tools in our company policy (meaning every manager must use those tools) as I find this is a respectfull and efficient tool for managing people.

As they were interested, I also presented them the DISC Model and they spent some time trying to guess each other's Profile. We had great fun, trying to guess the profiles of other persons in the organization!

In two weeks, we have a one day strategic meeting and we decided to add four hours dedicated to management. We will discuss O3 and Feedback and each of the attendees will have passed their DISC test before so they can share on that : compare their profiles, find synergies, etc.

I'll keep you informed.

juliahhavener's picture
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Great stuff, Ced! I think moving those tools DOWN the ladder is incredibly powerful. It builds strong relationships and that is what makes your company succeed.

cwatine's picture
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By implementing O3 in my management team (meaning my top executives), I am starting to realise a problem : nearly all my directs have an issue with the same member of the team.

Each time he is the part of a project, he seems to be the bottle neck because he refuses to take responsibilities and is slow to achieve results.

The problem is : instead of addressing their complaint to him, they prefer to go to me, expecting me to take action.

It means that instead of having this type of communication : Direct 1 <----> Direct 2
We have this : Direct 1 ------> Boss ------> Direct 2

Even if not satisfying, it works because this person is very prompt to action when the request comes from me. But I would like him to feel accountable to his peers, not only to me.

I have talked to him saying : "You have to change. When a peer asks you something, you have to act as if it was me".
And he began to ask examples, because he did not feel he was acting like this
- "I do not understand what could let me think that way"
- "could you give me him real examples"
- "who said that ?"

1) Q1 : how do I get them go to him instead of going to me ?
2) Q2 : how do I get him realise there is a problem ? Is it something I should do through O3 or in group ?
3) Q3 : how do I concretely measure progress ? (This is not easy as he is member of the same team, so it is difficult to measure his progress -or non progress- by having his peers evaluate his participation !)

Thanks for your advices.


WillDuke's picture
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[quote]1) Q1 : how do I get them go to him instead of going to me ?
2) Q2 : how do I get him realise there is a problem ? Is it something I should do through O3 or in group ?
3) Q3 : how do I concretely measure progress ? (This is not easy as he is member of the same team, so it is difficult to measure his progress -or non progress- by having his peers evaluate his participation !) [/quote]
Q1 - ask them if they have gone to him. If they haven't, which they haven't, then give them feedback.

Q2 - Sounds like feedback to me. In all fairness though, if the others are not letting him know there's a problem, how much of it is his fault? Don't get me wrong, it could all be his fault, but it might be worth some thinking about.

Q3 - I'm not a big fan of peer evaluation. How do you measure his job performance now? If it's not giving you what you need, you have to fix that. I'd start with the job description, look for measurables there. If they're not, then you probably need to re-evaluate the job description. After you get a handle on that it's O3s and quarterly reviews, and annual reviews...

cwatine's picture
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[quote]Q1 - ask them if they have gone to him. If they haven't, which they haven't, then give them feedback.[/quote]

They have.
3 of them have : one got a bad "angry" answer so did not push more. One did not get an answer and decided to find another solution. One got the answer : 'if you are not happy with me, then do it yourself". And he did.
Those 3 did not talk together about the problems they individually got. This were things they individually reported to me during O3.

[quote]Q2 - Sounds like feedback to me. In all fairness though, if the others are not letting him know there's a problem, how much of it is his fault? Don't get me wrong, it could all be his fault, but it might be worth some thinking about.[/quote]

This is were I don't feel at ease.
When I give him feedback about that, he doubts the other's saying.
He asks me to give details about the situation, and then gives me another point of view how it happened.
Then I am supposed to go back to the direct who complained.
I don't like this way of communicating. It is complicated, and gives no value added. Plus it means O3 is the place where people complain about others ... Not very sane.

I would prefer to plan a meeting and them to confront and find a solution. But at the same time, I don't want to have 4 persons blaming a 5th one ...

However I can't think about another solution because if I want him to change his behaviour, I need to show him this behaviour really exists !

[quote]Q3 - I'm not a big fan of peer evaluation. How do you measure his job performance now? If it's not giving you what you need, you have to fix that. [/quote]

He is generally doing okay, but seem to be bad at work team.

It is true that if I ask him something, he will stop everything to get the job done. So I (the boss) get what I want.
If a peer asks the same, he will let him wait and eventually never aswer ... So now people either accept he is the bottle neck, or find other solutions to get the job done.

Even if he never said it, I feel, his state of mind is : "I am proud. I don't get order from my peers, they are not my boss. I get orders only from my boss."

It means he is loyal to his boss, not to his company. He sees his peers as competitors or as annoying.

So I don't find measurables here, without peer implication.

WillDuke's picture
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I don't think the big meeting with everybody having it is the answer either.

1st, continue coaching each of the other people on peer feedback. Use the details in the podcast. But obviously that's not the problem. It doesn't sound like it would be effective to send them back up against this guy just yet; but you don't want them to lose faith in the system.

It sounds like you have come to the conclusion that this guy's approach is in fact the problem.

If he asks who said that, say that you are saying that. If he says no really, say yes really. This is feedback from Cedric. Cedric noticed this. Don't give an inch, and you won't get in that argument. If you have decided the behavior exists, then it exists. Sure you might be wrong, but probably not. This is the joy of management right?

If he's loyal to the boss, he'd see to the boss's success. Creating this kind of environment is not conducive to your success. The team doesn't work when one person doesn't see himself as part of the whole team. Help him find his pride in being the "buck stops here" guy. Or whatever guy you need him to be.

juliahhavener's picture
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I really think your key will be in the feedback. You can't ask him to do everything you need done. You need him to be a team player who supports his peers in order to meet your goals. I think you're going to have to focus your coaching around shifting this key piece.

Right now he thinks if you ask it and he does it, it's good. He needs to see that if his peers ask it and it moves work forward, it makes you happy.

Also, focus your affirming feedback in areas where he does exactly this whenever possible.

davefleet's picture

Great advice from Will and Julia.

I agree that the big meeting won't help the situation. Putting him in a room with lots of people confronting him is more likely to put him on the defense and less likely to help him change.

Will's advice about saying you've noticed the behavior is spot-on. You've concluded he's doing that, so stand behind your conclusion.

Julia's note on positive feedback is great too. He doesn't sound like he's team-oriented, so I'd keep the feedback focus off the team and more on his results. When you give positive feedback, perhaps mention something like "when you do XXX, our overall results improve, I notice your contribution to the team, I feel like I can trust you, etc"

My two cents.

cwatine's picture
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Dave, Julia and Will,

Thank you so much for your input.

It seems that for now I just need to re-inforce what I have been doing plus add one thing.

[b]Review of job description and priorities[/b]
I think you may have "touched a nerve" here, Will.
I am not sure his priorities and roles are really clear in his mind and I may not have put enough emphasize on that in the O3.
I also see that he talked to me about the fact that "he did not anymore see where his place was". This was in one of the firts O3 I had with him ...
[i]I think I may not have paying enough attention ![/i]

[b]Feedback to him : [/b]
- "when you immediately says - I have no time for that - or - I'll think about it - with a smile (I have witnessed that in a meeting), you let me and your team think that you are not willing to help out big projects, what can you do differently"
- "when you let your peers solve problems that are your responsibility, you let me and them think that you are not able to take charge, what can you do differently"
If he tries to know more and get details, I just answer that I have had a lots of clue about this behaviour. If he wants to know more about it, he needs to watch himself and wonder : "how can I help them more ?"
I'll tell him I am very happy with his will to solve problems when [i]I[/i] am asking him directly.
I'll ask him to process the team requests as if they were coming from me [i]IF they are included in a project considered as a priority[/i]. And I'll ask him if he knows which are the company priorities.

[b]Communication to them during O3:[/b]
You complain about "X" not helping you.
- What kind of feed back did you give him ?
- I cannot accept the project not beeing on track because of this excuse. So : is the project on track ?
- But, are you sure what you ask him to do is a priority issue (part of a project that is a priority ?) : do you know what are the 3 top priorities of the company ?



Mark's picture
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Sorry I've been gone so long.

The big meeting is not the answer. The answer really is feedback.

I'd encourage a few things: the peer feedback model among your directs. Teach them, and then ask them to apply it to the person who is giving you problems. A key benefit of this is that they'll learn to look for BEHAVIOR, and will then be able to talk to you about HIS behavior, making it easier for you to talk to him.

Further, in my experience, this guy IS the problem. He doesn't respect the others on the team, and he WILL treat them poorly if it's not corrected.

So, when someone comes to you, assess whether you believe they are being truthful. A BIG part of this is drilling into the BEHAVIOR they saw or heard. When they say, "he was angry," it's easy for him to refute that, by simply saying, "No, I wasn't". That's because they're talking about his emotions, or their feelings about him, as opposed to what he actually did. They may not like him, and so something he does that isn't really so bad comes across to them as very irritating.

If they can't give you specifics, or you sense that what they're saying isn't right - then just say thanks. You needn't act on anything or everything anyone tells you.

If you believe they are accurate (remember: without behavior, you're on shaky ground), then you deliver feedback to this problem team member. Focus on the BEHAVIOR.

If he wants to disagree, it doesn't matter. When he says, "that's not what happened," I recommend you say, "Okay, then there's nothing to worry about." In this case, HE knows that YOU know he did something that wasn't received well. That will help him change.

Further, if he says, "who said that?" the right answer is, "I did, just now. You can assume that if I tell you, it's ME who believes it, regardless of who saw or heard it."

Sure, he won't change as fast as if you were the one who saw the problem behavior.

BUT. If he argues every time, you have another path to pursue. After several such incidents, when he argues, give SYSTEMIC feedback.

"When you repeatedly tell me that everyone else is wrong, what happens is that I begin to stop doubting each instance, and I feel that you're wrong, and they're right. There's an old saying that when one person tells you that you have a green tail, you ignore them. When two people tell you that you have a green tail, it's a conspiracy. But when 7 people tell you that you have a green tail, you TURN AROUND AND LOOK." I've heard enough to believe that it IS your behavior. How can you change your working with the team?"

Again, sorry gone so long.


Mark's picture
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Oh, and it is also appropriate to give the others feedback about talking to him directly (using the peer model).


cwatine's picture
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Good to hear you again.
As always your advices are wise, simple and direct.
Thank you for that.

At this time, I did not do a lots of progress with this situation ... But in the last O3, the guy told me "I have realised recently that I was thinking everyone around me was wrong ... When you think like that, it sometimes mean YOU are wrong ...". Sounds like your old saying !



juliahhavener's picture
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My turn...

In my last set of O3s, I got some really wonderful feedback...made it ALL worthwhile. In our industry, offline time is almost impossible from June-September. I did not plan my O3 time well and we missed a lot of them. My team knows it was my poor planning combined with the needs of the business and that I'll be making changes here.

This DR is very leery of management, honesty and openness are BIG things for him. He's got S/C written all over him. I give him as much data as I can ahead of time so he has time to take it in and be prepared for changes I may ask for. He's also been working very hard at being as open with me as I am with him.

The last couple of months have seen him asking some questions that made him uncomfortable to ask, speaking some of those nagging concerns that can sound negative, and outright asking me to help him change his perception of events from the negative to the positive (this is HUGE...great big step of trust on his part).

His last O3 was scheduled during his vacation. He asked me if we would skip it or reschedule. We moved it up 2 days instead of missing it (we got back on track in October). At the end he told me he took a huge deep breath and stepped back out on that limb.

He told me he really appreciated my taking the time to care about him personally. He told me that above all his concerns, he knows that he is a top priority for me. He also said 'I don't know if you genuinely care or if it's part of the job, but I've never had a boss who treats me the way you do and I appreciate it.' He trusts me to do exactly what I say and if I screw up to tell him (it's been tested, I do screw up, I'm the first to admit it when I do).

This week I offered him a special project. One of his teammates had been doing it, but it requires a dedication and attention to detail that is not her strong suit. She suggested him for the task. We presented it to him with details of what was needed, the level of involvement and the good and bad sides of the task (he's not comfortable upsetting people and there is a potential to do this with this project). I asked him to think about it.

Two hours later, he asked if there was a weekly quota, what measurable items would I be looking for on this project in addition to his normal job. Today he accepted the project and started work on it.

This is huge. I really needed a pat on the back this week from my team. The weather is changing, stress is rampant in my personal world, and it's a world of change at work, too. Tomorrow it will be positive feedback when I see him working the new project. And a thank you for being as open with me as I try to be with him.

I'm not quite done rambling. I did get one other grand laugh thanks to M&M. One of my DRs was applying for an internal position. I sent him here for the resume podcast and registered podcasts geared toward interviewing. I helped him prepare the paperwork and pratice interviewing. Today we were talking on the way out of the office. The interviews are on hold until Q1 most likely. We were discussing something someone did and I was searching for the right word to describe it...and he said, "galactically stupid". I was so proud...he didn't stop with the resume podcasts, he's listened to them ALL in the last few months. It explains a LOT of the small changes I've seen that I haven't specifically driven.

RichRuh's picture
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What a great story-- thanks for sharing!


rthibode's picture

Wow Julia, way to go! I know M&M say management is boring, but I bet you feel like a rock star right about now. So impressive!


WillDuke's picture
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Fantastic story Julia, thanks for sharing. It drives home a point for me that I have been noodling around for a while.

BLUF - It's okay to be optimistic.

We have been massively trained to be pessimistic. Personally I think the media comprise the biggest terrorist organization on the planet. The neighbors want to hurt me, someone's going to steal all my stuff, the boss wants to take advantage of me, "those" people want to kill me. We have been trained to assume the worst of everyone. Instead of making that argument further, I'm going to use that as a premise. Nobody wants to be taken advantage of, or look foolish or naive.

Consequently we expend a lot of energy and resources protecting ourselves. This happens at almost every level of our existence, personally right up through nationally. Security for the home, car, office, country. We don't go to war to kill the other guy, we're just protecting ourselves from them! Imagine what we could do with those resources (not just monetary, but more importantly the mental and emotional energy) if we default to optimism instead of pessimism.

Look at Julia's employee who let go of defense and turned that energy into productivity. There is not only the productivity, but the impact on Julia and her team and their company and even on the rest of us. This is just one person making that choice one time.

I think this is why MT works for me. I think that at a fundamental level M&M have assumed that people want to do good. (Sure, they want to do well also, but I specifically mean good.) Manager Tools tools share a common theme of opening the door to allow people to do good. Take feedback for instance. It works because the person wants it to work. In another thread someone said there was a concern that intent was not recognized. In contrast, I think good intent is assumed.

It's a rare person I meet who has bad intent. So why should we assume they do? If people really do rise to our expectations, and we expect the best, we'll get the best. I like that MT tools fit this paradigm. I love that Julia's story illustrates this point so nicely.

Thank you Mike. Thank you Mark. Thank you Julia!

bflynn's picture

I think there was something in the WSJ about that this morning (9 Nov 2007)? Maybe yesterday. I didn't read the article fully, but I noted the title was something about how managers are driven by fear. I read a line or two of the article and got enough to know that they're right and its something we all know about.

How much of what we do is focused on risk avoidance? I know the reason is that risk = variance = lower value. But I also wonder if there isn't a more positive way to express that.


tlhausmann's picture
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[quote="bflynn"]I didn't read the article fully, but I noted the title was something about how managers are driven by fear. [/quote]

It may be more accurate than many managers (people?) make decisions _emotionally_.

At a recent meeting our facilitator suggested 80% or 90% of all decisions are made emotionally. *Personally* that seems quite high and note I am a high 'C' in DiSC.

Mr. Spock, aren't all decisions made rationally/logically? :-)

terrih's picture

[quote]Mr. Spock, aren't all decisions made rationally/logically?[/quote]


What cracks me up is that economists have only recently started acknowledging in their models that people DON'T make all their economic decisions logically! :shock:

cwatine's picture
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Really cool posts Juliah and Will. Profound.

Many Thanks.


juliahhavener's picture
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Excellent point, Will, and really part of what was a profound turning point for me...when the intention wasn't the point anymore but rather the outcome was.

spark's picture

I work in government and share an office with an exec who has no directs. I began conducting O3s several months ago. (My office mate would say that the challenge of leading people was just to much for her.) Last week she made one of her first comments regarding my management approach and O3s. She simply said, "I don't know where you learned to hold your one-on-ones. I've never seen anyone ever do them before, but they really let you know what you people are doing and allows your staff to ask you questions. The fact that you do it with everyone keeps you from having any issues with HR for picking on anyone. Where did you learn to to that?" It was a rhetorical question from her, but, it was such an unexpected and sincere statement, I felt I had to pass on her sentiment.

O3s have made such a difference by allowing my staff know that their concerns are my concerns. I've been able to resolve many issues that would have festered...and grown. When there's a delicate topic, I make the meetings, "private."

I've become a MT junkie on the beltway. You're ideas have been great and the premium content fee is a steal. Thanks guys

juliahhavener's picture
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Spark, I really hope you answered her rhetorical question by pointing her here. Even if she feels that leading others is too much for her *now*, the resources available here just might help her change her mind!

cwatine's picture
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I did the annual review of my marketing assistant yesterday (a little bit sooner as usual as she is leaving the company for some weeks, being pregnant).

I did not realize that having all my O3 history with her would make the process so easy.

Less preparation time and the best : not one thing I told her (positive or not) was a surprise for her.

Brilliant !

Mark's picture
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Well done! Glad it went so well.