I have really enjoyed your site and podcasts, I've learned a great deal and am now looking to build some of your tools into my operation. I do have some questions though.

My business (Protective Services) has many of my directs working away from the office. In some cases several hours of driving. This makes a face to face o3 meeting tough. Can this be done over the phone and if so what differences do you suggest in the meeting.

Also in my office I have 2 people that don't report directly to me (maybe dotted line if there really is one). Both can have a large impact on my business and I'd like to use the Trinity to meet, provide feedback and coach them, but is that appropriate. I will of course discuss this with their boss, who is 3 hours away first. Quite honestly he won't mind.


AManagerTool's picture



O3's can indeed be done via phone. Many of the posters here can offer you direct advice on how to do just that. All my directs are right outside my office so "No experience, No advice" is going to be my ruling on this one.

As far as the other bosses directs are concerned....Don't do it. The trinity model is based around the positional authority that you actually have. All that you have with the other guys reports is your relationship with them. Bottom Line: They are not your reports. They know that fact and the minute that they don't like what you have to say, they will use it and cost you dearly in political, emotional and social capital.

cacherjoe's picture

Thanks. I'm not too worried about the Office Politics thing because there really isn't any of that and I nip it in the bud when I see something happening. We are small and close so that really isn't a problem.

I am wondering how I can coach and provide feedback to the non-direct. With her it would mostly be to assist her in the management aspect rather than her actual job. There are some issues with her job and time management that I would like to help her with also.


HMac's picture


The majority of the O3's I've been in have been over the phone. They work just fine. Follow the outline in the casts, with a few additions:

[list]Listen carefully for sounds of multitasking (typing, moving around the office, filing, whatever) - and call it out right away. "Oh, I'm sorry, it sounds like you're doing something in addition to this meeting..."

Make sure you don't multitask yourself. At minimum, turn off your computer monitor.

Be extra sensitive to keeping the schedule by starting on time and ending on time. Starting on time shows the importance you give to the meeting; finishing on time helps prevent an embarrassing situation for them if they've scheduled another call or an activity back-to-back.[/list:u]
Finally (and this is a bit of a "grace note"): YOU should initiate the call. Don't make them chase you, even if they're on the road, and you're not. It's in keeping with the notion of the "servant manager" that you're going to do everything you can to make it easy for them - even dialing the phone.


On the other topic: if you don't have positional authority, don't coach, don't do O3's, and don't provide feedback, unless asked. Otherwise, you're just meddling.

This isn't "Office Politics" - it's human nature (take another look at Tool's response - and look past the word "politics" - it's just based on sound human relations...).

If you think the people aren't being managed effectively and you want to make the case for positional authority, that's another discussion. Otherwise, what you're thinking about here is really a...[b]matrix[/b] (where you're going to share managerial responsibility, albeit informally, with their "real" manager who's three hours away).

And speaking of the matrix - have ya listened to this week's 'cast? :lol:

Good luck. Welcome. Your directs will really appreciate your efforts to do O3's even though they're remote.


cacherjoe's picture

Thanks for the reply Hugh. It is good to know that I can do it over the phone. Most of my reports don't "travel" they actually live in those areas.

We did the "Matrix" style here before, but that wasn't done very well. Where their actual manager asked me (he is my boss) to take care of some things partly because I as there. I found this to be a problem because there was no actual discussion with the reports that I would have some authority. This caused a sense of "I'll answer to you when it works for me" attitude. It might have worked if the directs would have been advised of this from the beginning.


jpwillet's picture

I am a little confused over the "don't do O3s with other people's directs" comment.

I am a program manager and have no directs. Previous guidance that I have seen on the site is that PMs should do O3s with thier key members of thier team. They are responsible to me for my project, but I am not thier boss.

BTW - I have been having them for about a month and it has been very good at improving our relationships.

AManagerTool's picture


Fantastic! Having those meetings with the people on your team should improve your working relationships astronomically. As a PM, you absolutely should be meeting with the key members of your team.

That said, these are not O3's in the sense of a manager-direct relationship. While it is correct to say that O3's are mainly about building effective working relationships, that is not what they are all about.

As a manager, the O3 is a time bucket for staff development, coaching and just plain face time with the person who holds your career in their hands. That big flashing red sign that Mark talks about is what we are referring to. There is just something about human nature that demands recognition from somebody with power over your future that gets stroked in an O3. I am not saying that you have no power over your team members's just not direct power and they know it. That changes the dynamic quite a bit.

Take a look at the O3 form that is on the web page and you can see that there is more going on than just relationships....although...that's probably the most important product. The first 10 minutes is for the direct to talk, the next 10 minutes is for you and the last is for the future (development, coaching, delegation etc.). I'd say in a project/team relationship that 100% of the first 10 minutes, 50% of the second and 10% of the third would be effective in a PM/TM relationship.

The point about not doing O3's with other peoples directs is about that flashing red sign that you simply do not have with other people's directs. It is quite possible that when an O3 becomes disadvantageous to that other person's direct, they will tell your peer that you are overstepping the boundaries and you have a problem. It sucks but it's human nature.