I've just had my first 3 one-on-ones. I found that I really struggled to take notes during the one-on-ones. Is that normal?

At the end of the one-on-one, I quickly scribbled all I could remember.

  • Do you have any suggestions on getting better at it?
    • I'm going to follow the recommendation given in the "Note-taking during Interviews" cast by listening to a news broadcast and noting what's being said. I'll see how that goes, but I'd love any suggestions.
  • Do you take notes on what they say about their holidays and family, etc? During their first 10mins, we did get into all that. It was quite a good free flowing back-and-forth conversation, but felt really odd to take my eyes down to take notes during that.. so I didn't. If felt like it would break the conversation.
  • My directs sit alongside me during the O3 (due to the configuration of my cube). That seemed to make it even more uncomfortable to take notes. Do you have the same feeling?



mattpalmer's picture

Whenever you're new at something, you need a lot of mental energy to remember how to do it.  I like to remind people of how hard they found it to drive a car when they first started (because the vast majority of people have had that experience).  You probably had serious tunnel vision, could barely stay in your lane even with furious concentration, and if anyone said *anything* to you... yikes!  Now, though, with some years of practice, it's completely natural.  You can simultaneously change the station on the car radio, eat a hamburger, and yell at the kids in the back to SHUT UP! all while reverse parking in torrential rain.

My point is that after three one-on-ones, you've barely gotten out of your driveway yet.  Taking notes requires mental energy, and right now you're running full tilt just to remember to listen to your direct, find appropriate moments to ask appropriate questions, and stop yourself from taking over the conversation.  Or maybe that was just me... at any rate, once you get more comfortable driving the meeting naturally, you'll have some spare cycles to putting down the occasional word on paper.

To answer your specific questions:

* To get better at it, practice.  The note taking casts (all of them) are valuable, as is taking notes in as many different situations as you can, including one-on-ones.  Always *try* to take notes (never say "Oh, I'm not good enough yet, I'll do them in 6 weeks" because you never will), but don't beat yourself up if you don't.  Definitely make notes to the best of your recollection immediately after the one-on-one, though.  It might not be perfect, but don't make the perfect the enemy of the good.

* I take notes about anything I may want to take action on in the future.  This includes a lot of things that I'd like to remember (like names, events, whatever) in their personal lives, for later inclusion in a conversation.  One word (a kid or partner's name, or "Tahiti" if they're going on a holiday, or whatever) is enough to jog my memory when I read back over the notes afterwards and I'll scribble a few more words down, and create a "next action" of some kind (even if it's just "remember what Bob's kids names are" every day for a week, so they'll stick and I'll never forget them again).

* Yes, I feel awkward and uncomfortable taking notes (especially about personal stuff), *especially* if the direct can potentially see what I'm writing, but I keep telling myself that I'm just projecting my thoughts into other people's heads, and that's not effective.  Also, I've cultivated a naturally unintelligible scrawl, so I figure there's not a huge chance of anyone actually being able to read my handwriting...

rsamuels's picture
Training Badge

Get a shorthand going (make it up if you have to), I use a little up arrow for when they did something good, or I gave them positive feedback, and a little down arrow when I share constructive feedback with them.  I use a star for my own action items.  I never write out small words like "to" (use a 2).  I skip vowels.  I write down anything I want to remember including personal notes, kids names, etc.  I tell them this is because I have 7 directs and lots to do and I just can't remember everything.  O3s are business meetings, like everything else at work, and warrant note taking.  One of my directs noticed and thanked me, they said it's good to know I'm actively working to remember what they've said to me.  I have thought about actually trying to learn shorthand (like my mom) but it seems like it will be more trouble than it's worth, as all of the systems were developed to provide a short term transcription method for the purpose of expanding into full notes soon after.  So if you wait too long to decode your shorthand, you may not be able to remember what it meant.  My own homegrown system has worked out better.  I also use the advice in the first questions in the O3 cast, I chose "how are you" so I write "HAU" at the top of my O3 sheet, and then I write the answer.  I asked Dani in the Chicago conference, what happens if they ask to see their notes, like Elaine demanding her chart in the doctor's office on that old Seinfeld episode.  The answer was, hand it over, it's all just statements of facts.  Hope this helps. 

macfarmw's picture

Great example about learning to drive!

Matthew MacFarland
Manager of Software Development
Dril-Quip, Inc. Houston, Texas

mi5mark's picture

I sometimes say something like "just one second let me record this action"

I also have developed my own shorthand, with a star for my own actions and a little box for their actions. At first they thought it was a bit odd that I was writing down personal info but eventually they just accepted it as normality

Like the previous poster said, practice makes perfect, also you don't want writing up to become an industry in itself, our time is very limited

gpeden's picture

 I set the bar fairly low for myself on this one:

* I remind myself that before Manager Tools and O3s I had no system at all.  zero.  So any notes in an O3 - even scribbles, short hand, etc. is big improvement.  So rather than beat myself for not being "perfect" - I give myself positive feedback for "sucking less".

* I put my direct's needs first and foremost in the O3 - so if *I* don't get what *I* need so be it.  The communication and relationship is the priority.  

* At first I was trying to capture everything. Now that I have hundreds (thousands?) of O3s under my belt  missing a few things here and there is no big deal.

*  I customized the O3 form with bullets of common feedback items, cues on the format, etc.  Wendii might post it at some point.

For example, I might scribble "FB+". "Delivered" "Customer Sat" on the O3 form, and I know that means "Can I give you some feedback? When you delivered on time it really helps keep our customers happy, thanks".  I don't have to remember the *exact' feedback I gave - only that it was positive or adjusting.

I also use Evernote to take a picture of the form, then I can go back later and tease out individual feedback items, follow ups, etc. and add tags like "fb+" "!FollowUp", "ownership".  I use "The Secret Weapon / Getting Things Done" approach as recommended in another MT forum thread.  

I found this effective - maybe it will work for you.



DiSC 7511

nbloontjens's picture
Training Badge

I have an iPad Pro and recently discovered the Notability app.  If you have an Apple Pencil, you can handwrite notes in Notability, file them, and then later on even search your handwriting.  I use OneNote for references and lists, but Notability for daily notes and one-on-one notes - best of both worlds!