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Hi all,
quick question about the first ten minutes, their ten minutes. I just recently, very recently started my O3's and they have been awesome. The one thing I am noticing is the struggle of maintaining conversation in their first ten minutes.

I know it's intimidating for them, and myself, and I am finding I am driving their ten minutes as well. Asking them questions about their familes, their activities, etc... to help ease the pressure, but after a month now, I find I am still driving their ten minutes.

Should I make it more clear that it is "their ten minutes" and have them come prepared with anything? Or at least give some sense of responsibilty for their ten minutes?

tomw's picture

Have you tried using the questions on the O3 template sheet?

mwright's picture

yes, the questions are very useful. I was concerned with those folks that are very short with their answers, if they should come a little more prepared. How do other managers conduct the first ten minutes if the direct has close to nothing to say?

The majority of the questions on the sheet are work related, and I am trying to get to know them on a personal level, so I really don't want to saturate them with to many questions about work.

AManagerTool's picture

[quote]but after a month now[/quote]

That's 4 O3's! Give it more time. Besides, sometimes drawing it out is needed even after two years of O3's. Of course, that doesn't imply an interrogation either. Sometimes my directs don't want to talk, that's OK.

Relax, It's OK. Your doing fine. Keep doing it.

tomw's picture

[quote="mwright"]The majority of the questions on the sheet are work related, and I am trying to get to know them on a personal level, so I really don't want to saturate them with to many questions about work.[/quote]

OK. What do you know about them personally? What are their kids' names? What do their kids do for fun? Play soccer, dance, etc. Ask about them so you know, then follow up asking about that activity later.

What is their spouse's name? What does that person like to do?

What trips has the person taken? Have they gone on vacation? What did they do?

Big #1: What is the person's biggest interest outside work? Ask about that. If they are into fishing, boating, cycling, stamp collecting, etc. they could talk about that for an hour if you ask about it.

rgbiv99's picture

When I first started doing O3s (back in May) I felt the same way - that their time was forced and a bit awkward. I think what I was doing wrong was taking the "It's their time" principle too literally. It was more of an interrogation: what did you do this weekend, did steve pass his exam, did you win your kickball game, etc.

I still ask those questions, but now it's more of a back and forth where I tell them about myself as well. If they say that they saw a movie over the weekend then we'll have a dialogue about what kind of movies they like, what kind of movies I like, and so on. It's much more of a conversation now, instead of being like an interview. It's still their time and they can decide what we're talking about, but now I think of it more as "building the relationship" time, rather than me interrogating them.

AManagerTool's picture

[quote="rgbiv99"]When I first started doing O3s (back in May) I felt the same way - that their time was forced and a bit awkward. I think what I was doing wrong was taking the "It's their time" principle too literally. It was more of an interrogation: what did you do this weekend, did steve pass his exam, did you win your kickball game, etc.

I still ask those questions, but now it's more of a back and forth where I tell them about myself as well. If they say that they saw a movie over the weekend then we'll have a dialogue about what kind of movies they like, what kind of movies I like, and so on. It's much more of a conversation now, instead of being like an interview. It's still their time and they can decide what we're talking about, but now I think of it more as "building the relationship" time, rather than me interrogating them.[/quote]

DING DING DING DING!!!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
What he said!

mwright's picture

Awesome, thanks guys. Starting these has been, somewhat intimidating, but I am excited, thanks for the thoughts.

jhack's picture

Some folks don't open up. Others share things that amaze you.

10 minutes isn't a hard and fast rule. Be flexible, let it flow.

John

KS180's picture

This report is going to make me use just about every aspect of MT there is.

I have a new report that is destined to drive me crazy. I have O3's before and some people were resistent but eventually come around.

This guy doesn't want to talk about anything but work. When I bring up some of the items at the bottom of the O3's sheet he answers about work. He seems to have no interest in opening up even though I have laid myself on the line. He has no interest in establishing a relationship because everybody here stabs you in the back eventually.

He is your stereotypical IT person. Doesn't maintain eye contact. Feels his opinion should be taken for gold. When it isn't he gets upset that we don't value his opinion. Wants to be involved but when asked he either doesn't provide feedback or provides something so off the wall it cannot be used. I then sit down and explain the realities of life and limited resources and he points out the hypoticricies of the organization to which I tell him that is out of his control.

Then we both walk awayfrustrated.

Where do I begin?

tomw's picture

He's new. If all he wants to talk about is work, then maybe that's as deep as your relationship has progressed. Maybe that's as far as it will.

You are lucky he wants to talk!

You don't need to change anything. Management is repetitive, boring, and un-sexy. Just keep up what you've been doing.

KS180's picture

Just had our sixth O3's and I asked him what he expects out of the job, the company, his future.

He said it can summed up in one word - Indifferent! He doesn't care what happens. Being in a meeting is torture for him.

tomw's picture

Six.... when you have 16, maybe we'll talk again. Six is barely even beginning.

If you dig deeper and it turns out he really is indifferent, then fire him. You don't want someone like that on your team anyway.

regas14's picture

Are you quoting him?

He said he's "indifferent" to the job, the company and his future!?!

If he actually said that word, he was probably just being nonchalant or sarcastic but that is an opportunity for feedback. Saying the word "indifference" is a concerning behavior and you should make him aware of the impact of saying that for example, people lose respect for him, people are afraid to count on him, people will draw the conclusion that he won't get things done, people will conclude that he won't get things right, you're concerned about giving him responsibilities which may challenge him, it limits his value to the company and thus his potential to maintain/grow his ability to earn an income.

Indifference is an attitude not a behavior, but saying "indifference" is a behavior.

HMac's picture

Don't lose sight of his performance. If he's doing the job well, you don't have a problem.

Keep doing the O3's.
Keep focused on job performance.

Some employees don't want "relationships" with their managers. You can keep the door open, but you can't pull 'em through it.

-Hugh

stephenbooth_uk's picture

He sounds like people I see a lot in IT, especially those who have been in the same company for a while. They are quite indifferent to the company as a whole, just come in and do their job then go home at the end of the day and don't think about work again until the following morning.

They're indifferent because they've been disappointed so often. They've worked hard to develop their skills in the hope of progressing up the organisation. Then found that they can't progress any further because everyone assumes they're 'just a techie'. Meanwhile the 'non compos' in finance, marketing, admin, sales &c get to demonstrate the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle]Peter Principle[/url] holds true yet again. First they get upset, then they get angry and finally they figure "If the company isn't going to let me progress any further, stuff 'em. I'll show them exactly as much loyalty as they've shown me. Just do my job and go home!"

Perhaps you could, at some future O3, set this direct a coaching goal of listening to the "[url=http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/06/solution-to-a-stalled-technical-car... to a stalled technical career[/url]" podcast and feeding back to you his thoughts and how it might apply to his situation. Maybe he won't get it, maybe he will.

Stephen

KS180's picture

The 'indifference' is a quote. i told him that concerned me because there has to be something he is passionate about. He replied "not really".

Background: He dislikes his director and expected me to come in and fire the director. Didn't happen and he is disappointed in management.

I need to work on team building - lots of lack of respect and trust.

Communication, inter-personal skills. I have a challenge before me. Who said management is boring and repetitive?

tomw's picture

[quote="HMac"]Don't lose sight of his performance. If he's doing the job well, you don't have a problem.[/quote]

I agree with that. I also expect that someone truly indifference won't perform well. "Indifferent" and "performs well" seem pretty opposite to me.

I'd also worry about his effect on the rest of the team. Someone indifferent can be a wet blanket over the rest of the team's energy and enthusiasm. Draining the team can easily offset any one individual's performance.

jhack's picture

Three things are core here:

He doesn't have to talk about his personal life. Directs can be engaged and productive at work, and keep their personal life personal.

His performance is important.

His effect on the team is [b]more[/b] important. If his behavior results in lower performance by other team members (ie, less effective communication, less collaboration, etc) then his indifference is making a difference and he either has to change his behavior or consider another position elsewhere.

Remember, it doesn't matter if he cares or not. What matters is whether his behavior is professional.

John

juliahhavener's picture

I'd like to repeat what's already been said - keep going.

His 'indifferent' response is highly unlikely. I suspect from what else you've said that he is very hesitant to invest too deeply because of the 'backstab' issue.

I have one DR who as very like yours. I had to draw out of him his family information. Once I did, I was able to ask directly about his wife, his daughters, etc. It took [b]months[/b] to get him to actually open up. It took [b]eight months[/b] for him to truly trust me enough to discuss his fears, concerns and dreams with me. It was incredibly frustrating.

That took us through to last November. Since then, everything has changed. He started out certain that management was something he wanted nothing to do with. Change frustrated him and scared him - at almost every turn he just knew the axe was going to fall. His challenge for this year was to learn to be flexible and adaptable.

Today he is a completely different employee. He actively looks for ways he can be more involved. He has decided that management might not be so bad after all. He has learned to, if not blindly embrace, then at least to investigate, understand, and champion change. He has taken on additional responsibilities and has excelled at every opportunity. My peers have noted. My Director has noticed. Other departments have noticed. He's built relationships all over the building (even with departments we rarely interact with). He's built relationships at the national level, too.

The key was the relationship. It took time. The only thing that can heal distrust is demonstrated trustworthiness. In this particular employee's eyes, it meant that he had to know he could bring a concern, a fear, or a challenge to me and ask for support or direction in dealing with it without judgment.

Don't give up on him yet. He may well prove to be your diamond in the rough.

AManagerTool's picture

I think this discussion can be rephrased.

[b]Do you allow someone to meet expectations, year after year after year or do you adopt the "up or out" approach to performance management?[/b]