I work for a large office supply chain and I am a low level manager within the company (my position would be similar to a senior department manager). I think using one-on-ones and weekly staff meetings sounds like it would benefit my area of responsibility greatly. One problem...I am not allowed to do them. Our labor hours are always tight and I'm always needed on the floor. So, because I'm always needed on the floor, I can't come off to do the one-on-ones. And, because labor's tight, I can't have everyone come in for a weekly meeting.


jazzbone1031's picture

I wanted to clarify a bit as well.  I guess what I'm asking essentially is this; can the formats for one-on-ones and "weekly meetings" be a viable substitute? What I mean is this; my company calls for us to do what we call "huddle meetings" prior to our prime time of the day. This is a roughly 15 minute session to highlight goals and focuses for the day. As far as one-on-ones go, we're expected to do this in the form of coaching only. A session where our directs get to talk about what they choose is essentially seen as befriending them and is discouraged. What should I do? 

duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

You say you're required to be on the floor at all times.  I'm guessing you aren't always busy 24/7.   Can you grab 15-30 minutes once a week when the store's "dead"?   Or manage others' work so that they cover while you make time to talk individually to each person?   Remember, O3s don't need to be in a private office somewhere.  Grab a quiet corner of the shop floor and do your best.   Any time you can find is better than none.

Huddle meetings aren't O3 as they're task focused and not relationship AND task focused like O3s.   Not a good substitute.

I also doubt you're "not allowed" to do them because it is "befriending" people.  I can only speak for myself but I wouldn't let some know-nothing in HR dictate how I manage my people.   As long as you keep the O3s framed around improving results and relationships (feedback, delegation, coaching, etc), it'd be a very sad company that would punish you once you explain their purpose and their value to org.

If there is a written rule that says no O3s I personally would ignore that edict.  The rule's in place to prevent something other than what you're trying to do.  Call the meetings something more corporate friendly if it makes people feel better - who cares.    Yeah, maybe there's a bit of risk around that but the risk is worth taking to improve results IMHO.  


flexiblefine's picture

"Call the meetings something more corporate friendly if it makes people feel better - who cares."

If someone wants to know what these are, call them weekly coaching sessions. Letting the direct talk about what they choose is a way to find out if there is anything going on that might affect their performance. (Among other things, of course.)

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mjpeterson's picture

I don’t think the daily huddle can replace One-on-Ones, but it can replace the weekly meeting. You can make many adjustments to how you do the huddle to make it be a better replacement for the weekly team meeting. Maybe you can make it 30 minutes once a week and 15 minutes the other days.

Doing a 15 minute One-on-One/Coaching session on the floor would be a good substitute for the 30 minute gold standard One-on-One. Maybe the 15 minute ones are only a silver standard, but if are able to make the time and work them in, you will be miles ahead of the other managers. The goal is to have that weekly time with each employee that will help build the relationship, which will foster better communication and the early discovery and addressing of issues.   

jazzbone1031's picture

I was hoping desperately someone would chime in here, and you guys did not disappoint. Thanks so much! Now that you mention it, I can see how the daily huddle could serve as a decent substitute for the weekly meeting, since that is more about tactic and stratagem. However, I also see how that same huddle, and for the same reason, could not serve as a substitute for the one-on-one.

I have (possibly), one other question about relationship building. I have a member on the team that reports to me directly that I honestly think is poisonous to the morale of my team. My team happens to the sales floor associates. One of these associates lies constantly, at times seems to bully customers into sales, and doesn't seem to know what he's doing with the computer services. Part of the responsibility for some of my associates is to perform computer diagnostic and service. This same associate either thinks he knows what he's doing, or is so sold on trying to live the lie, that he won't listen to coaching. Even if he seems to "agree" with what's being said, he twists it into something that was not at all meant! I'm at my whit's end with this guy and I can't fire him (not in my authority). I frankly don't want to build a relationship with him...

What do I do?




duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

Wow, that's a much longer conversation.   You need to go back and listen to the Manager Tools Basics casts and a lot of the feedback casts such as "Shot Across The Bow".

All I will add is that: (a) as your direct you owe him a professional relationship with you; (b) your description above is largely characterising behaviour and is not detailed enough to act on.  Start getting specific examples AND documenting.  Give feedback on those individual behaviours to the person using the feedback model.  When the documentation (list) becomes long, coaching has failed, and there has been unsatisfactory change, you will now have data to give your boss (and likely HR) to make the case for dismissal.    If you don't document objective behaviour in detail, it will be pretty impossible for you to remove someone.




jazzbone1031's picture

 You're right. I am acting (unfortunately) emotionally rather than logically. I will listen again to the whole basics series actually. Thanks again.

billjw's picture

Totally agree Mark. I'm in HR and every time we get a manager asking us for help we ask "what have you documented so far?" (you can guess the answer to that).

But we don't need a book of comments. Just a few notes the manager can recall that what they saw was unacceptable - I refer to them as SOBs - Specific Observable Behaviours. Ideally the person has already been approached and feedback has attempted to address the behaviour.

As I've learnt in my career, and also reinforced here, with regards to feedback (particularly around unacceptable behaviour) do it early, do it often.

jazzbone1031's picture

...and I wondered something else. One thing the guys point out is that the scheduling of the O3's are just as important as actually having them. My problem is that I work in retail, as I've said, and my schedule varies as does the schedule of all my directs. If you also consider that business must dictate when I'm actually able to have the O3, then actually scheduling them would be very difficult indeed. Any suggestions here? 

mattpalmer's picture

Presumably you know your schedule and your directs' schedules some time in advance (when is next week's roster posted?), and you should have a fair idea of when the busy / quiet times of the day are, so you could catch up with each of your directs in passing and ask, "Hi Fred, is 10:15 next Tuesday good for our next <corporate-approved-name-for-O3s>?"  "Sure, Jazz"  "Great, see you then!"

One cast which might be of use to you for this, also, is "How to Do One on Ones with Shift Workers" -- it might not be comfortable to listen to, but if I were in your shoes, it would be exactly what I would do.  Other casts to handle some of the other issues you've raised throughout this thread are "The Corky Story" (part 1, part 2, part 3 -- all about firing someone when "nobody gets fired around here"), and "Boss One-on-One Pushback" (all about what to do when the org is not entirely supportive of your O3s).  Those will keep you occupied for a couple of hours!

angelicdoctor's picture

Thank you for pointing me in the direction of the "Boss Pushback" podcast.  I was directed this week to stop having one on ones with the explanation that these meetings take up too much of my time.  Despite my polite protests, I was over ruled.  That's when I remembered Horstman's 8th law.

jazzbone1031's picture

Excellent! Thanks. Yes, I can know my directs schedules by Wednesday of the preceding week. Also, thanks for the cast recommendations! 

WritePaper's picture

These recommendations will help me, thank you very much.