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I've been a manager for about 6 months now. I conduct a weekly 30-minute O3 with each of my employees. The O3's themselves are very helpful. I have diligently taken notes from each one; I have found, however, that the notes don't really seem to help anyone (myself or my employees). I'm considering abandoning the note-taking effort. Any guidance on the criteria for making this decision?

 

Thanks,

--Steve

ken_wills's picture

In my experience, when I don't keep notes, O3's become just...conversations.

I use O3's to give and get commitments (about dates, deliverables, next actions, etc.) - and I really depend on my notes for tracking those commitments.

I'd be curious why your notes aren't useful - to you or your employees.  Two possibilities come to mind:

  • The notes you take don't include enough detail or substance, so they're not very useful
  • The conversations you're having don't include enough detail or substance, so the notes about those conversations aren't very useful

So before you stop taking notes, I suggest you take a look at how you take notes and how you use the O3's.

 

Good luck!

 

mrstevegross's picture

We certainly have very detailed, substantive conversations. It usually takes the following form:

 

1. Status check: We review the employee's assigned tasks for the current sprint. What's coming along? What's lagging? What can I do to move things along? Etc.

2. Long-term concerns: What does the employee think should be the long term concerns? What are we as an organization missing? What should we be planning on improving / working on / etc.?

3. Small talk: How's life? What's going on? What movies have you seen lately?

 

My notes generally only address item #1. It's VERY impractical to write down notes for item #2, because these are wide-ranging, big picture conversations that don't easily transcribe on paper.

 

--Steve

jaleraas's picture

I have been using the O3 Tracking Form for about a year and here are my thoughts.

Team Member Update: Since my environment has a huge customer service component, I usually try to solicit ideas as to what we could do better to serve the base.  I also try to get to some feedback from the direct as to what they've heard from the customers.  Those notes really help when 1) I need to push forward concerns to my supervisor and/or 2) to seek ways to change internal policy and procedures. 

Manager Update: I like the second portion of the form because it allows me to outline targets, projects, or training and then come back the next week to see if it was done or what needs further pursuit.  It also gives me a place to list the topics I want to cover, and it tends to keep me on top of things. 

I agree with Ken's comment regarding substance.  You'll need to ensure that you capture that important data to get the most out of the notes.  Especially, if there is a WDWBW item.

"In my experience, when I don't keep notes, O3's become just...conversations."  This is a great point, which I have also experienced.  I've had those "what did we talk about last week" conversations, and they are a totally miserable experience.  That is one of the reasons I started implementing the O3 Tracking Form. (though I've found I will sometimes run out of space!).

When you talk about long-term goals, do you discuss training and development for the direct or is it business-centric?

As far as the impractical-ness of writing lots of notes, you should check out the note-taking podcast (if you haven't already).  I convinced my supervisor to let me take over our weekly meetings...I had someone taking notes for me (a peer), but the notes were not up to snuff...I started implementing the Cornell system, and it's working well...it is a bit of a challenge to run the meeting, take notes for the group, and actively contribute, but I think it is an improvement from before.

Lastly, I love the "What movies have you seen lately?" question.  It's almost psychoanalytical in a way...maybe I'm reading too much into it.  Anyway, I hope this was helpful.

-J

 

tlhausmann's picture

When affirming feedback and accomplishments are recorded in your O3 notes your annual reviews are *far* simpler to write. You have rock-solid information to use when writing summary paragraphs in the annual reviews.

As an aside, when an employee leaves your team, saving your O3 notes provides information for recommendation letters down the road too.

Keep taking notes..

mrstevegross's picture

>Team Member Update: Since my environment has a huge customer service component, I usually try to solicit ideas as to what we could do better to serve the base.  I also try to get to some feedback from the direct as to what they've heard from the customers.  Those notes really help when 1) I need to push forward concerns to my supervisor and/or 2) to seek ways to change internal policy and procedures. 

 

We spend lots of time discussing new ideas. However, we don't really need notes for new ideas. If something is important, I'll send an email right away to start a discussion, or record it in our change request system. Also, I don't need notes from O3's to advocate for good ideas; if an idea is good, we'll discuss it on-and-off for awhile until we're all familiar with the reasons for it. At that point, it's easy to discuss with my boss.

>Manager Update: I like the second portion of the form because it allows me to outline targets, projects, or training and then come back the next week to see if it was done or what needs further pursuit.  It also gives me a place to list the topics I want to cover, and it tends to keep me on top of things. 

 

We don't really need notes to remember what we said we would work on. I've got a change tracking system to record tasks for people, so that's helpful. I also know--and remember--the goals I set for my employees.

>I agree with Ken's comment regarding substance.  You'll need to ensure that you capture that important data to get the most out of the notes.  Especially, if there is a WDWBW item.

WDWBW?

>"In my experience, when I don't keep notes, O3's become just...conversations."  This is a great point, which I have also experienced.  I've had those "what did we talk about last week" conversations, and they are a totally miserable experience.  That is one of the reasons I started implementing the O3 Tracking Form. (though I've found I will sometimes run out of space!).

We don't really have a problem remembering what-did-we-talk-about. I'm in close communication with my employees; I talk with them in person almost every day, and we send emails back and forth all day long. So everyone knows what they're working on.

>When you talk about long-term goals, do you discuss training and development for the direct or is it business-centric?

Both, of course! We talk about things-to-learn, classes-to-take, business-directions-to-ponder, etc.

>As far as the impractical-ness of writing lots of notes, you should check out the note-taking podcast (if you haven't already).  I convinced my supervisor to let me take over our weekly meetings...I had someone taking notes for me (a peer), but the notes were not up to snuff...I started implementing the Cornell system, and it's working well...it is a bit of a challenge to run the meeting, take notes for the group, and actively contribute, but I think it is an improvement from before.

I'll take a look...

>Lastly, I love the "What movies have you seen lately?" question.  It's almost psychoanalytical in a way...maybe I'm reading too much into it.  Anyway, I hope this was helpful.

Well, relationship management is a CRITICAL aspect of being a manager. I need to make sure that I'm on good terms with all my employees, and that they feel comfortable talking with me about life in general. I'd like to think we get along pretty well.

>When affirming feedback and accomplishments are recorded in your O3 notes your annual reviews are *far* simpler to write. You have rock-solid information to use when writing summary paragraphs in the annual reviews.

Yeah, it occurred to me that the annual review process will be rather interesting. I guess we'll see how that goes. I'm constantly rethinking and anticipating how I will write them. I have a pretty clear idea of the strengths/weaknesses I want to discuss in each one, as well as examples to support my case.

>As an aside, when an employee leaves your team, saving your O3 notes provides information for recommendation letters down the road too.

Maybe... But the notes mostly say "working on foo, working on bar, discussed baz". I can't imagine anyone really finds them all that useful.

--Steve

manager252's picture

<cite>We don't really need notes to remember what we said we would work on. I've got a change tracking system to record tasks for people, so that's helpful. I also know--and remember--the goals I set for my employees.</cite>

In my experience, the longer I'm in management and the more directs I get, the less details I remember about each direct, assignment. and goal. What winds up being forgettable to me often is important to the direct, and it usually is helpful to have a record of some sort. I try to take notes during the one-on-one, but often go back immediately after the meeting and add necessary details.

"WDWBW" = Who does what, by when

asteriskrntt1's picture

... in looking at the 3 things you discuss, to me it does not look like you are following the MT format.  Maybe you are and I am just reading it from a different perspective.  Are you using the MT O3 format or just an O3 format you designed or were given?  If things are so general, you should not be discussing them in O3s.  Be specific.

O3s are relationship building and development time.  And all 3 segments are important, so you should have notes on all three components.  Think of it as an operation, which is generally open the patient, peform surgery, close the patient.  You can't really have a successful operation without all three components.  Same with O3s.

Andy Stirling's picture

Our format was decided upon by a director so I had little say in this although I think its probably to structured ill post the details below for you to judge for yourselves.

They are done on a monthly basis and I think that's OK we are a really small team some people get a lot out of it others are less so and are very matter of fact.

We have the report sign and date I also sign and date. What I'm wondering is if this is just to much?

 

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How is it going for you?

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What is going/has gone well?

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What could go better?

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High/low points.

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Anything else to discuss?

 

Theres also an area to assign any concerns or additional training needed between then and the next session