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Submitted by dresouza on


I spend 80 days a year on the road, often a full week or longer at a time. My senior staff may spend 40 days a year on the road with similar distributions. We typically plan to be out of the office at different times as we are spread thin and are trying to cover all bases. Add vacations, the coming holidays, the stuff of life, and my senior staff and I are together in the office only about half the weeks of the year

I have not done phone 03's and I am pretty certain that my staff would view that as over-the-top intrusion. They are just getting used to the idea that meeting regularly with the boss is a good thing. Also, international calls when I am overseas are logistically problematic.

I am open to suggestions about how to keep connected while on the road.


US41's picture

Do the O3's by phone anyway. Your speculation about what they will find intrusive or not is not data upon which to base a decision. Your employees' feelings about what is intrusive is utterly irrelevant all the time.

We conduct project reviews in my department. We pick some projects, reel the guys in twice a week, and we look at their documents, we review the schedule for flaws, and we basically take apart the entire project to try to find things that the employee might have missed. Some of them view this as intrusive.

I view their work as being my work that they are doing, and I will inspect anything and everything as much as I like.

I would not allow a plumber I hire to order me out of my house and disallow me from looking at the new sink he installed. I would not allow an electrician to forbid me to look at the new breaker box and question his decisions. If I am paying for it, I can inspect it.

Further, I have a duty to do so.

I used to worry about my folks finding me intrusive. I no longer care about that. I set up O3's with anyone new that joins the team that I hire or inherit due to a re-org. When they say, "I'm not really into that." I say, "Well, you are now. You work for me, and I am entitled to reel you in as I like and I do like."

The millions and millions of dollars I have saved my company by discovering project defects through these reviews is a proven statistic. There are other millions I have saved by having O3's with my directs where I learn things I never would have known otherwise. The many hundreds of poor decisions we could have made due to lack of information about people personally and professionally just keep piling up.

For my team, O3's are non-negotiable. I love my folks and don't want to cause them additional stress, but I am not afraid to do so because sometimes it is my job to ask of them what they do not want to give. That's why they get paid. And that's why I get paid, too.

[size=18]The One on One is the drive train of the Manager Tools system.[/size] If it breaks, it all starts to break. If it is worked with discipline, everything else just falls into place.

Do not allow the one on ones, of all of your tools, to be denied to you because of your suspicions or your employees feelings.

dresouza's picture
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Thanks for the comments back.

I appreciate the insight about the projects and continuing O3s because they are good for the organization and I am comfortable with all those points.

Rather than should I do O3, my question is really more focused how to do O3 on the phone? Phone or IM or any other electronic format is inherently different than in-person.

Given that staff can be resistant to O3 and it is harder from me to project my natural puckish charm over the phone, what have you found helpful to make phone O3's more effective?


jhack's picture

Don't use IM.

You really don't need to modify the format over the phone. Yes, your puckish charm will be less evident. News Alert: your directs aren't really interested in your charms.

Would you like more time with your boss? Your directs want more one on one time with you. Don't worry about resistance. And if someone is resistant, you might consider that their real concern is your visibility into their performance.


HMac's picture

Over the years I've done far more O3's by phone than in person. They work just fine.

Listen for clues that they're trying to multitask, and nip it in the bud. And set a great example yourself: be prompt, be focused, treat it with the same diligence you would if they were in your office.


dresouza's picture
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Hugh and John,
Good tips about focus and multi-tasking. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


thaGUma's picture

Use the phone. The human voice contains a lot more information than email or IM. If there is resistance to O3 then pitch it as 'how ya doin?' 'any problems' 'just checking in' = first stage they talk. Second stage is similar 'wow my day was bad - I really need you' 'I found some bits on XYZ you might find useful' 'did you manage to find a trainer for that module you were interested in?'

On the phone you can always work things round to what you need to cover.

Good luck. Chris

dresouza's picture
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Great points. I like the phrasing. With my business manager, who is 100% on board with O3, I ask him to send a short status email before the call so that I have in front of me what he thinks is important. We are on the same page so to speak. That seems to work well for him.


US41's picture

So, this might be the source of your worries about O3's being intrusive. O3's are not status meetings. If you need status meetings or project reviews, do those separately.

The purpose of the O3 is for the direct to talk about whatever he wants to, and then you to talk about whatever you want to. The purpose is relationship building. If you want to, you can grill your employees during your part of the O3, but if you do, they will only talk business during their part, and you will have a hard time breaking through to the point that Mark calls "Bodily Fluids" - where the relationship gets close enough that secret chronic illnesses are revealed, medical experiences are discussed - things families talk about.

That's a proxy indicator that real trust has emerged. I can tell which of my directs trust me - they have shared with me information about themselves that makes them vulnerable.

I recommend you stop the "Send your status report before the O3." That isn't really part of the whole O3 thing. It also sends a message that you don't want to listen to them.