Licensee BadgeTraining Badge
Submitted by j_colman on


I just started a new position at a new company and will be having my first O3s with my new Directs next week.  I am NOT new to management but it's been a long time since I've had to do a "first" O3.  What is the best way to solicit all the necessary information that allow you to develop a personal connection with your team without it sounding like a prying interview (e.g., Do you have an SO and what's their name? How many kids/dogs/cats do you have and what are their names?) I have some ideas of my own to ease into it but wanted to hear other people's thoughts.  Thanks.


m.p.'s picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Congrats on the new opportunities – and all the firsts that come with it.
On that theme, this is my first participation in the forums.

As MT listeners we know it’s important to get to know our people. And that O3s are an effective way to do so. We also probably know that relationships, and trusting relationships take time. Embrace the awkward over immediacy.

I use this multi-prong approach: proactively communicate O3 purpose, embrace awkwardness (be humble), patience over pressing, revisit, learn everywhere (outside of O3).


Whether O3s are new to us – or new to them – it’s new to you together. Newness and firsts can be awkward. To de-mystify the O3 I’ve always:
- introduced/communicated the purpose by email
- followed by introducing its purpose in any relevant group meeting or on-boarding/orientation
- AND re-sent by email the purpose and what they can expect in an O3 with me the day before our first
- I also keep the purpose message (or except) in the bottom of the outlook calendar invite; so it’s always there as reminder, refresher, or open invite for directs to make the O3s theirs


I love talking about work. But, to encourage directs to share what’s important to them (i.e. family) I spell that out in my O3 email; making talking family (and the names that go with that) always an option. Here’s an excerpt:

“…The format will be the same each time. 30 minutes. The first 10 minutes are for YOUR agenda – anything you want to tell me, about anything. You can talk about work, about your development, your career, questions about our work, hobbies, pop-culture, pets, external stressors, anything. The primary focus of the meeting is going to be YOU…”

Awkward is in my comfort zone, so I also name that. I might be awkward because I’m questioning how to sound human (i.e. asking about family), and we can both be awkward because the trust isn’t there yet. Another excerpt:

“…One on ones are something I do, and you may have to – either way it’s new to us. So I might fumble a little. Still, I believe in its worth, and progressing together through any initial awkwardness.”


Okay, you really want to know the answers to your people. What’s your O3 opening line?
I use: “Start the conversation. How are things?”
That helps me ground every meeting as them guiding a conversation; and saying ‘things’ is broad enough that they can take it anywhere (versus ‘how is work?’). This is just another window to keep the option to for them to self-initiating talking family.

Now I’ve planted openings for them to talk family.
If it’s important to them (or more so, if they find it important to their relationship with you) it will come up. Some will talk family right away, others won’t. That’s okay neither is wrong. Every relationship will be different. Which means the trust relationship with each direct can look different. People’s boundaries will look different. And it will take some relationship time to figure out what those boundaries look like. And those boundaries might change over time. In my field, talking family can come with trauma or shame, so yes showing care can mean treading slowly and lightly. Asking early, or asking like an admin interview are risks. And remember, you can always apologize and do different if you mess up. Awkward power.


And here I’ll add that yes MT says it’s okay to ask about family etc. as long as you don’t subvert the process. Don’t ask just to get the info you want. It’s their meeting, it’s about relationships.

Here’s my spin on the MT script, “I honour you as whole person, and know that you are more than a worker, no doubt your family and circles are most important to you. You know, I’ve done a terrible job keeping up with your family, and I admit I don’t know or haven’t learned their names. I’d love to know more if you want to share. I care. So I’ll pay attention and make note.”

MT also reminded me to stay interested. I can’t glaze over, check off done in my mind, and go back to enthusiastically talking work (creating a false sense of importance, which risks them not bringing it up again even if they wanted to). Thanks MT.

Overtime, review your notes. Is what they’re sharing changing or solidifying? Again, no wrong answer. And, after some time they still don’t talk personally, you can remind in your portion of O3 even if you’re in the habit of talking work, the option to talk personal remains.


Plus, access to personal files, reviewing interview notes, or grabbing coffee are all ways to gain info too.

In sum, make room/options for them to self-initiate, stay patient, and go ahead and ask with care.

One on Ones
Direct Relationship Acid Test
One on Ones – Work or Personal
Conversational One on Ones
The Morning Greeting

pucciot's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

When I started my new position I would have a few questions ready for them.


I gave each O3 a warning about he question each week.


After the first 10min  I would ask this question.


It is a good start for the first month or so...


It sounds like this :

"In our One on One next week I'm going to ask you a question :  "What to you like about your Job ?  What gets you excited about the work you do ?"

Then Ask that question the next week.

Accept any answer they Give.

Then Prime them for next week's question :

"In our One on One next week I'm going to ask you a question :  "What don't you like about your Job ?  What gets you frutrated about the work you do ?"

I'm sure that you can keep this up for at least two months.

Just one Question each week.


Why do you like your job ?

What don't you like about your work ?

What is the biggest Challenge about your work ?

What activity do you like doing in your job the most ?


What do you like about living in {this city} ?

What don't you like about living in {this city} ?


If you could make a change in this organization, what change would you like to see ?

What do like about this organization ?  What makes you proud or happy to work for this organization ?


What opportunities to grow would you like to persue  ?  Is there anything I could do to help you with that ?


Good Luck.