I've been doing O3s for 3 years--almost as long as I've been a manager. (Found MT right after getting promoted.)

Last week, one of my directs asked in our O3, basically, what's the point of these meetings? She's super-busy right now (we all are) and she was saying it's a waste of time to pull her away from her big project to "chat." I don't remember what all she said, but afterward I found myself thinking "I suck." (as a manager)

Then at her LAST O3 she sat and looked at me with an impatient expression and flicked her hands as if to say, "Well? Well?" I drew her out and she said, "I've already told you I don't like these meetings, I've told you I don't like you taking notes, it's like a therapy session or something, I don't have time to chat, it's a distraction from my big project, and I'm not the only one who feels that way. But you're the boss, so here I am."

I couldn't believe the hostility radiating off her. And she used to be my easiest O3!

I have to admit I've slacked off on listening to the podcasts. I just yesterday listened to the one about resistance to O3s (from last October)... although that one seems geared toward the manager just starting up O3s.

I see there are also a couple others that might be pertinent -- the "Work or Personal?" one, and the "O3s are Business Meetings," and one about relaunching them after a few years.

I know I haven't been working O3s like I should. It's hard to come up with things to cover though... these are individual contributors, with little room for advancement (unless I get hit by a bus).

Really, I know what I need to do. But I feel like a failure right now. Just had to talk to SOMEbody about it, more than anything.

Mark's picture
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Why don't we chat this weekend?  I've sent you a PM with my cell.  I'll be traveling Sat/Sun before a client gig Monday out in California, but I'll have some time.

For what it's worth, that direct is behaving unprofessionally and rudely.  Others will tell you you should psycho-analyze her, and determine what the "real" problem is...but I don't think too many of us are very good at that.

I think it's possible your O3s might be a little soft, but then again maybe they're just fine, and this person is just stressed out.  (And petulant to boot, not that that isn't a label.)  Work or Personal might help most, if I had to guess...

I wouldn't give her feedback just yet, but it wouldn't be out of the question.

Cheer up - I'm typing this with blood on the keyboard after falling and playing guns in the yard with the kids.  Hurts like hell, but Wendii spied your post, and we like you a lot.

Your friend,



SamBeroz's picture

Her behavior is not appropriate.  It is completely reasonable for you to meet as you are partially responsible for her work product, performance and development.  When I get resistance from a high-D on planning or reporting I remind her that moving at 100 miles per hour is no good if you’re not pointed in the right direction.  Also, in your position you have more of a systems view.  Maybe the problem she’s currently working on has already been solved and you know it but she doesn’t.  Maybe she’s solved problems that other people are currently stuck on and sharing can save them the trouble.  Either way, none of that is likely to happen if you can’t find 30 minutes a week to talk. Then again as a high-I , I love a good meeting.

Anyway, that’s worked for me. - Sam

bflynn's picture

Her actions are inappropriate.  If she wants to be upset about having to do O3s, that's fine, she's allowed to not like the situation.  When she become impertinent and rude, then there'a problem with professionalism because professional people don't throw a tantrum, even a little one.  My instinct says feedback is probably appropriate, but better than that, let Mark help you out.


terrih's picture

Thanks for the input. Tomorrow is her next one. We'll see how it goes....

I usually don't even keep anyone a full 30 minutes. I'm a high C and an introvert, so I'm not that good at coming up with things to talk about myself. I sure don't know how to talk about the future. They've got dead-end jobs, basically. We've been under a wage freeze for 4 years! (and that's EVERYBODY)

terrih's picture

In the latest O3, she told me she's going to ask for a raise in every future O3 until she gets one.

I've TOLD everyone there aren't any raises right now. But her response to what I get from my boss whenever I ask is, "That's b***s***."

I guess, if she follows through on this, I'll just have to keep saying, "There aren't any raises available right now."

I certainly sympathize... she's been here almost 5 years with no raise, and she works hard. On the other hand, her approach to asking for a raise leaves somewhat to be desired. She tends to be more demanding than anything, and occasionally she'll throw in a dig against one of her coworkers--for example, "At least I'm not on the phone all the time like so-and-so."

I'm open to feedback suggestions...

SMcM's picture
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Hi Terrih,

I'm sorry to hear the problems you are having just now - I really feel for you. You have been put in a very uncomfortable situation.

I don't really know what you should do - would it be worth in the next O3 to say to your DR you appreciate she doesn't like the O3s, they are not going to stop and what can you do to make them more worthwhile?

Do you know her DISC profile? Could you use this to improve your communications?

I know you will get some great advice from the forum and from Mark that will get you through it.

Good luck and keep us informed.



ashdenver's picture

 "When you repeatedly ask for the same thing, it makes you seem either petulant or dense in not being able to grasp the answer you've already been provided. What could you do differently?"

"When you rat-out co-workers for their behaviour to make your own behaviour come across as more professional, it actually undermines the message you're trying to send and makes you seem less professional because of it. What could you do differently?"

Short of having The Discussion (which I don't know that Mark or Mike would ecen recommend) to find out what's really going on and trying to connect with her on a personal (rather than professional) level, I don't think there's much you can do.  Continue with the feedback and O3s and stay the course.  Remember that her animosity is a reflection of her own personal issues rather than anything you're necessarily doing as her manager.

(The Discussion is sometimes effective, especially for some touchy-feely types.  When they feel they've been heard, when they feel like they have someone on their side / in it with them, they're more receptive to working together with you to achieve common goals rather than to have continual hissy-fits about things they don't like.  You don't give up who or what you are; you don't cave-in and give her whatever she wants.  But when she tells you that her husband lost his job and they're really strapped for cash which is why she's so angry & insistent about a raise, that's a good opportunity to see what you can do to help the relationship.  "Gee, I'm sorry to hear that. The budget is well and truly strapped; there's not a dime to be found anywhere. You do such an excellent job around here & I know you've gone without a raise for five years so even though I can't make money appear out of nowhere for you, I would be agreeable to allowing you to work a flexible schedule if you need to take on a part-time job, if it comes to that."  Heck, even if it's a matter of going flex so she can look for another job that will pay her more - then she'd be out of your hair, there'd be less animosity & tension on the team and you might even be able to find a replacement for her at a lower wage.)

DiSC profile: 7-2-1-5

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peterlevy's picture
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I think "rat-out" is a loaded term that some employees will not get past and will therefore miss the rest of the message. Also attributing motive ("to make your own behavior come across...etc) is moving the feedback out of the realm of behavior.

RaisingCain's picture


Everyone's gut was to call the actions inappropriate, petulant was used too. The key fact here is that the actions were sudden; 3 years of O3 and then hostile. What was her answer to the “first question” over the few O3 leading up to these? What about the other O3 meetings during the last 2-3 (if the yearly review is the biggest) times she got the news there were no raises? What about the “last 10 minutes” where you discuss her career? Have you been making progress and acting on those discussions.
You asked for feedback and suggestions. First my feedback, you told us that this blindsided you.  You said, “I couldn't believe the hostility radiating off her. And she used to be my easiest O3!”  You missed the signals. From her point of view you ignored them and being ignored can hurt feelings and damage relationships. Do you think that you still have the data, the skills and talents, and hopefully the enough of the relationship left to fix this?
Now my suggestion is to use clarifying questions and empathy to remove the curtains of rage and hostility and get at the real problem. No need to psycho-analyze her just talk to her. Then when the rage is gone, and you understand the actual problem, and she is actually listening to you hit her with the feedback of how she should have handled the issue.
That is my advice, if you smack her with the feedback on her unprofessional response to her problem now you will assert your role as boss...and drive her right out the door.  If you let her know you are willing to listen first you will fix this, retain her, and strengthen your relationship at the same time.

terrih's picture

Wow, I think you hit the nail on the head with that. In fact, that's been in the back of my mind, that maybe I haven't dealt with her past requests adequately.

I don't know if I have the interpersonal skills to fix it. I can try.

rsshilli's picture

This is a tough situation, no doubt.  I was in a very similar situation before, with equally inappropriate remarks made by the DR and managed to repair the problem by turning to the mentorship side of O3s.  I should be clear - I wasn't this person's manager at the time.  I was a senior team lead.  My boss had something like 18 direct reports and couldn't handle all the O3s, so we split them, both of us meeting with everybody every second week.

After a couple of conversations like the ones you described, I said the following: "You need to have a good mentor.  From now until the day you retire.  Period.  If you don't think I'm a good mentor, then let's find you a good mentor."

Since you are their manager, you'll want to meet with them at least every second week, but I think it's perfectly fine to let them meet with a good mentor somewhere in your company on the off weeks.

In my case the DR came back to the next O3 and apologized.  "I'm sorry for being such a pain.  You're right, I do need a good mentor.  And honestly, you're doing a good job of the role I'd like to have someday.  You're a perfectly good mentor.  Let's keep this going."

If you haven't listened to the podcasts on coaching, I highly recommend them.  Also, if you haven't already, check out the motivation-hygiene theory.  Salary isn't as important as you might think. 


terrih's picture

She seems back to normal now... and it finally dawned on me that the unusual behavior was probably caused by some medical issues she'd been going through. Last week she told me they changed her medication, and I think probably the old medication was messing her up.

What a D'OH! moment when that dawned on me. Oh well.