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Submitted by tberge on


I am relatively new to my company and took over a fledgling office which also merged with another company.  Now managing about 12 people new to me, new to each other, and during a start up in our area has been challenging.  I have been a manager for about 7 years, and this team is the youngest average age by far (young 30's instead of mid 40's).

I instituted O3 about 3 months ago and met with resistance.  This escalated to some of the "veterans" (here before me, but still just a few years) approaching my boss and complaining about my meeting requirements. 

I know the purpose of O3s is to strengthen relationships, but I must have rolled them out wrong or something, because my request for them seems to have the opposite effect. 

My boss is not supportive of these meetings as our culture is more "casual" than that and she thinks that they are standing in the way of me developing relationships with the staff.  She thinks I am working towards efficiency at the cost of effectiveness.  Some of the staff seem to have taken this as the hill to die on.  I am considering abandoning them, but don't know how to bow out gracefully.  This past week, two employees simply stood me up.  So, I have to figure out how to give feedback on missing meetings without notice while rewarding the behavior by canceling future ones.

I hesitate to post this as I know the community as a whole supports O3 and I truly agree with their value as I have used them in the past with success.   Also, I should add the disclaimer that I work in a matrixed organization.

jhack's picture

You should do the O3's.  OK, you knew that.  

Your real issue isn't the O3's.  It's your credibility as a manager, and your future in the organization.  

Your directs are in open insubordination, and your boss supports them.  Your boss also supports them going around you, directly to her.  

It's unclear how much of the MT material you've used (ie, did you roll out O3's according to the rollout casts?  Did you employ the "managing your boss" podcasts? First rule for new managers?  etc..) From your brief update, it's unclear whether this is an isolated issue or if you're caught up in a dynamic that will chew you up and spit you out.  I'm guessing this is a very dangerous dynamic.  

Where to go from here?  Why were you chosen for this role?  What does your manager expect you to do?  Is this a turnaround?  What happened to the previous manager?  These are key pieces of info that would guide your next moves.

John Hack

tberge's picture
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Thanks very much for the feedback and support.

My boss and I did discuss whether or not this was insubordination.  It is important to note that our company does 360 reviews and that this feedback came as a result of that process.  As a result, the way the feedback was received/solicited isn't really insubordination; although the failure to attend meetings without notice is very close if not blatant.

I was chosen for this role based on my management experience, my contacts in the area, and my ability to develop business/market.  The office had rotated through 3 managers in 3 years.  The 1st was a remote manager to set up the office; the 2nd was a promotion/transplant from within the company who left after a year to move towards family; and the 3rd was a temporary remote manager with 2 local deputies.  The last situation lasted about 8 months and several bad habits were developed during that time - like the hourly non-exempt acting salaried and the staff taking 4 day work weeks.

My boss did say that she is very happy with my performance and that this feedback is not unusual or unexpected.  Her style if very different and much more "casual" (example, she thinks it is okay to have to round people up for a meeting that has a set start time), and I believe she thinks my formality is getting in my own way, with these meetings being a symbol.

We did talk of respect from the staff, especially those who did not even show up, and she was supportive of reprimanded them.  I suggested we hold off for a couple weeks and see how the dust settles, but I am rethinking this.

I have already approached 3 employees since I have to reschedule their next meeting and offered them the option to cancel - only 1 took me up on it saying that she preferred we meet "informally".

jhack's picture

These threads have some really good advice in them; if it's any comfort, you're not alone:

I particularly liked Mark's point, "Next thing you know we'll be talking about whether or not people need to come to work"


John Hack

bug_girl's picture

3 managers in three years makes my ears prick up. Anyone else?

I think probably anyone would have a tough time in this situation!

Also, and as usual, John gave you good advice :D

ehyde111's picture


What do you think about taking back the current one on one schedule and then trying (in a few weeks) to roll it out the way feedback is rolled out?  Start with your top performer.  Tell them you want to spend time with them weekly because they are your best asset (probably can find a better word.)  Focus on what they want, their career development, and then work towards the more traditional O3 format.  Work down your org from there.  If it takes a while to get to everyone, so be it.  If people still refuse.  Go towards systemic feedback to them, and then, as our HR would say, work on an exit strategy for those at the bottom.


tberge's picture
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Thank you for all of the support, references to other casts/threads, and great advice.

Have approached 4 staff and offered to cancel the meetings.  Three of the 4 opted to keep them.  Haven't approached the most vocal opponents yet, these are the firm-appointed "superstars", but am feeling more prepared for the discussion having had a few successful ones already.

Keep thinking of what my boss said, "Your employees have a great manager, they just don't know it yet."

tberge's picture
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Met individually with each employee and asked whether they found the O3 helpful and wanted to continue or cancel.  Of 9 employees, 3 took me up on the offer to cancel the meeting.   And yes, 2 of the 3 are the "superstars". 

fchalif's picture
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I have followed you thread and hope that your two most recent posts reflect progress rather than steps backwards. You have gotten great advice so far, and I hope I can only add to that.

There are behaviours suggested by Manager-Tools that are often considered "over the top" by others around us since they are so different then anything "other managers" are doing. That is the bump in the road you get when doing things differently.Part of the behaviours I have noticed with MT is that the core tools applied consistently lead to results.

I fear that by already having 3 out of 9 of your Directs accepting a cancellation, your ratio is high. Where are the other 3, in your first post you mention 12 new people. That may mean that 50% of your Direct Reports are not having O3s with you. I think this will reduce your likelyhood of success.

There may be another way to be effective in developing a relationship with your Directs, however I do know that One on Ones have made a big difference to our team. I urge to review this trend and to try to reverse it. Remember your duty to your Company is to be effective in managing your team to meet its goals. Difficult Directs are just that, difficult. The end game is usually the same for everyone, most want to achieve results.

Good luck and keep us posted.


TomW's picture
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Have the directs said what it is about the O3's they do not like?

tberge's picture
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Thank you for all the advice and support. 

As I write this I have 7 out of 10 employees on board with the O3.  The other 3 have cited the following as reasons to discontinue:

- I prefer to communicate informally (my boss went so far as to say this is the company culture)

- I have enough billable/project work and only need to check in with you every couple months on the training/career development stuff (we're a matrix organization, enough said)

- I prefer informal communication and the flexibility to serve our clients first and update you later

Of those who agreed,

- These help you do your job, right?

- I think I need to continue to meet with you until my project load increases, then maybe we'll find it's not necessary.

- I find these helpful and think that you know more about what I do than any previous manager, which helps me.

- Sure, I like these, but let's not do the 10/10/10 structure.  If we talk 15 on something I want to know that it's alright.

Joining the company in a recession and doing a layoff my 2nd month with the company made me a little standoffish and I focused more on the bottom line than on individual relationships.  I also merged two offices and closed one down.  But enough excuses.  The staff who felt like they had advocates elsewhere in the company and who had the closest relationship with my boss, were the ones who didn't want to meet.  My boss' lack of support for the "formal" (regularly scheduled, rarely missed) meeting structure was not lost on them. 

Relationship work has become paramount and I am finding excuses to pop in on both those I meet with and those I don't.

I hope that my experiences bring comfort or ideas to others.

12string's picture
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 As I would continue my o3s with those that are objecting, I would site the reasons that those who agreed used, along with..."sometimes the boss gets to decide whether or not we have a meeting..." 

Maybe my lack of understanding the matrix is hurting me here, but I would be blown away if my DR 'decided' we weren't going to do their O3.  I would think that especially because of so many layoffs and closed offices, your DRs would want to make sure they know  you on a more personal scale.

I do understand about no wanting to be so structured on the 10/10/10 bit.  At first, my DRs went on for about 30-40 minutes-ish.  Now we're to about 15 & 15 where sometimes we'll slip into the final future development section every now and again.


tberge's picture
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12string - I was directed by my boss to readdress the O3 with individual staff as she received significant negative feedback on them, and is of the belief that they don't fit within the company culture.  My boss didn't go so far as to tell me to stop all of them, but directed me to stop them with those who objected.  I didn't have her support in making the statement "sometimes the boss gets to decide whether or note we have a meeting . . .", unfortunately.  I had serious concerns that taking that approach would result in reduced job security for me.

Boss told me to still have them, but informally and not scheduled,  To just pop in their offices for informal chat.  Sigh.

dresouza's picture
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I wish I had a piece of advice to give about the O3.  I don't.  Perhaps it is not anything you did or could have done.  Given your descriptions, if was not O3, it would be something else. 

Get rest, don't do anything rash, take notes, think about it. 

Continue doing O3 with the people who will do them.  Build through it.  It took me nearly three years to break through a culture that viewed such meetings as poison.  It still is a foreign process to the old-timers.  In an organization that is changing as rapidly as you describe, it will not be long before it will be your team and you will have a good relationship with them.



tberge's picture
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"Get rest, don't do anything rash, take notes, think about it."

Ed, Good advice - thank you!

tberge's picture
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It is with great pleasure that I report back to the Manager Tools community that I now have all of my staff on board with the O3's!

It took polite persistence, an open mind, and small ego.

Practicing the positive feedback delivery, which at times still feels awkward, and keeping on point.

Thanks again for all of the good advice and support.

12string's picture
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 Strong work, TBERGE.  congrats on getting your team on board.

Thanks for the update on your situation.