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Submitted by bteachman on


The department I manage is made up of 12 employees. Currently I do all the one-on-ones myself and I do each employee once a month. I see the value in One-On-Ones, but with my travel for work and having 12 employees I am not sure what to do to bring this up to a weekly or bi-weekly. Right, wrong, or indifferent my department is the only department still doing One-on-Ones with all team members. Typically this is only used for Manager level positions or higher (now).

With my travel and my team members travel alternates every week (because of plane schedules and rental cars). There is no good way I can think of to schedule this. At one point in time we tried doing all the team members every week, I scheduled them on Monday and Friday which are the low travel days. I was spending all day in one on ones (30min each with a 30 minute block between for fallow up and prep).

I was thinking about scheduling 6 every Friday, doing them every other week (so each employee would get one every other week), and if for some reason I can not do them Friday they move to the following Monday. But this would cause an issue with some of my employees that base there day on the schedule.

Does any one else have this problem? What do you do?

sklosky's picture


Are you doing only face to face O3s? If so, you might consider phone based O3s when you are not in the same place as your direct.


US41's picture

I have employees in another city. All of my O3's with half of my team are 100% over the phone. You can set up a conference line to dial into, or you can call your directs straight away from your phone. After you do them for a while, your directs will call you if you are ever 2 minutes late, because they only get 30 mins, and they will crave the O3 because it is critical to their success.

dad2jnk's picture

This is a great topic. All but one of my directs are either in different cities or different countries and I am struggling with O3s because of travel and time zones.

What specific techniques do you use to make "Virtual O3s" effective?

Thanks in advance.


jhack's picture

Really, nothing special. I have directs overseas, and I schedule a time when our days overlap. We follow the O3 structure (three 10 minutes chunks, more or less).

It works.


WillDuke's picture
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I'm with Steve and US41. There's nothing wrong with an O3 over the phone. I do 'em. I would suggest getting rid of the 30 minutes prep time. Your meetings will become snappier. You'll have less wasted time in-between. And, you can get up a good head of steam that really energizes your next meeting!

For prep, just do as Mark suggest and use post it notes. Jot down your thoughts during the week and stick it on their O3 folder. Bam, preparation complete.

If you get in the habit of phone O3s, it won't matter so much that they're traveling. So they're in a hotel room. Maybe there's something that works better for them. Give them a chance to make a suggestion for how it could work. It might end up working out even better for you. I foresee lemonade in your future. :)

Mark's picture
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Over the phone, every week, with every one. We believe the time has an enormous ROI.


refbruce's picture

I've got a similar problem (formally picked up management responsibility this week). My plan is to evaluate out a week or two ahead whether I'll offer to move the O3 to a non-travel day or do it by phone.

madamos's picture
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I have been doing O3's with my team of 12 weekly since I started the job 2 months ago.
At first I scheduled them all in one day (back to back with a short break for lunch). By the 3rd week I had split them up into two days. My O3 days are Tuesday and Wednesday. I have changed the scheduled time for the 03's with several of my employees as many as 5 different times trying to find the right schedule. Only 4 of my 12 employees are in the same office, so most are done by phone. I am in New York and I have employees in every time zone in the US as well as employees in Europe.

At the beginning of my job, I was doing a lot of travel. Time zone differences are always a challenge. Here are some places I have done 03's:
- In the airport terminal waiting for a flight
- In the car on the way to/from the airport
- On the bus on my commute to work/home

Doing 12 03's every week has been difficult but has been well worth spending the time. Besides helping establish relationships with my team, it has also served to impress both my boss, his boss and several of my peers.

It may take a few tries to get the schedule right to allow you to have weekly 03's but the effort is well worth the struggle.


davidleeheyman's picture
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I'm in a similar situation. I'm about to start O3s this week. The response from DRs has been fabulous. I've wanted to start them for a while but recently I turned a colleague onto O3s. She scheduled her first O3s for this week and how can I let her start doing them without taking my own medicine. Now she's talking about doing O3s with the other colleagues at our level and she's considering asking our direct boss to do O3s with her.

In any event, I travel 50-60% of the year and my directs travel 15-40% of the year. My home base and that of my DRs are spread such that for half of the year there is no overlap in 'regular working hours'. We've scheduled them so that I'm doing them at 7AM. If either of us have prospect meetings then we'll have to reschedule the O3. Each time the clocks change we'll have to reevaluate the times. Lucky for me when I am traveling I find myself closer to their time zones. This will make the time of the day more convenient at times. During those rare occasions when I find myself in the same location with a DR we'll do the O3 in person for that week. Hopefully the eventual shifts in times won't affect too much the quality of the interaction.

davidleeheyman's picture
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I've been doing O3s now for 2 months with my directs. It is great, but I'm finding it very difficult to work out the time when I'm on the road as typically I'm in meetings. While some have been rescheduled I've only canceled one for each direct in the past 2 months. Still frustrating as I find that the need to reschedule is causing me to be stressed as I'm worried that I might need to push it off for that week.

ctomasi's picture

Have you tried conducting them via phone? You're traveling, why not carry a notebook (perhaps with the MT forms pre-printed inside), the previous week's notes, and call your directs for 30 minutes? It can be done - and work nearly as well. I'm proof.

davidleeheyman's picture
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[quote="ctomasi"]Have you tried conducting them via phone? You're traveling, why not carry a notebook (perhaps with the MT forms pre-printed inside), the previous week's notes, and call your directs for 30 minutes? It can be done - and work nearly as well. I'm proof.[/quote]

Nearly all of my O3s are held via phone. I've only had a single face to face O3 with each direct as typically I only see them face to face 3-4 times a year. I keep the notes in a clear plastic which I keep with me all the time.

In addition to being the manager, I'm also an individual contributor. What I'm finding challenging is that when I'm on the road my schedule is usually blocked solid with prospect and partner meetings. Due to the territories that I work in these meetings are not set a week in advance but tend to come together throughout the course of the week. So I find that I am shifting the O3s around during these weeks.

HMac's picture

bteachman - I'll add my voice to the "O3's over the phone work" chorus. My experience has run almost 90% phone - and they work fine.

dad2jnk - as hack and others note, there's really no special approach to different time zones, distance, etc. The only but I'll add is when you're doing O3's listen extra hard for any signs of "multitasking" - and DON'T you multitask yourself!