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 HI All,

I was this week told by my HR manager and another peer that I should stop doing O3s for my 6 directs as they  believe them to be "non-value adding" and showing that I am not "empowering" my team to make decisions on their own. They are slowing the team down and stopping us from solving urgent issues in the plant.

I was also told to stop our weekly staff meeting for the same reason.

 

How do I respond to this?

What am I doing wrong with my O3s and Staff meeting that others see them as "wrong"

Can anyone give me some guidance on how to measure the success of the O3s and staff meetings so that I can show their value?

 

Background:

I have been doing O3s for all of my team of engineers for 18months. I have listened to all the casts and I am sure that I am doing them right. the O3s are by the book: weekly pre scheduled at a fixed time on everyones calendar. I try to follow the 15 min for them and 15 mins for me agenda. occasionally we go over time  but generally we stay on track.

I have a 75% success rate of on time as scheduled for all my directs (i.e. 75% of the time we meet as scheduled). the rest of the time we are working on urgent issues or one of us is travelling and uncontactable.

Durring the O3s their 15 mins are for them and mostly they talk about the projects they are working on but we have talked about all issues under the sun. My 15 mins are spend working thought their development plans, coaching on issues or getting feedback on specific issues.

Our staff meeting is weekly with the extended team (8 engineers from 3 sub teams). I take 20 mins doing the waterfall of stuff from the monthly leadership team meetings, meetings with my peers, audit results and plant performance results. we then spend the remaining 80 mins of 10 mins each for them to review what they did in the week gone, what they are woking on this week coming, what they need help with and what they have heard around the business that others need to know about. we then review our key activities and who is on leave or travelling.

 

I thought that these were really adding a lot of value and keeping us on the same page but alas some important and influential people in the business seem to disagree.

 

Thanks for your help.

Chaps

 

 

cim44's picture

I'm unclear as to who is wanting the stopping of the meetings.  Is it the two people that spoke to you or were they representatives of others?

buhlerar's picture

I can't imagine HR getting involved unless someone complained.  This seems highly unusual.  What are your boss's thoughts on the matter?

If this happened to me, I'd seriously consider falling on my sword.  And when I say fall on my sword, I don't mean I'd quit.  I'd probably force them to fire me.  Of course even with the background you gave, I'm sure there are more details, but I'd have a hard time being a manager while being prohibited from interacting with my team.  Makes no sense.

chaps's picture

 thanks for the feedback .

my team supports the whole factory in 2 key areas of equipment maintenance and executing capital projects.

we are genuinely understaffed and have 2 open positions that the business recognises that we need.

we have had 2 months of poor performance in the factory and one key project is running behind schedule so now my team is in the spot light.

the whole business is behind on financial performance and so there is an extra level of urgency to deliver results NOW.

 

we have our O3s in my office which is very visible in the office and everyone walks past and can see us meeting.

I have the largest team of direct reports, so I am seen to be meeting a lot (it is approx 6 hrs a week).

 

exit interviews were done on the 2 people that left and one part of their response was that there were too many meetings.

 

My conclusion is that since i am "often seen" meeting with my team, some comments from an exit interview and the overall pressure on the business, this has created a perception that I am running ineffective meetings  which are taking time from delivering results now.

 

I don't want to leave the business as it is a great place to work so leaving is not an option I want to take.

I do find it perplexing and I'd love to know how to respond .

Thanks again for you insights.

 

 

quietlife4me's picture

I'm with buhlerar on this.

I'd confirm this "direction" with my boss. I can't imagine your manager agreeing with HR on this. Assuming he does...

Then Id be looking for a polite way to say to HR "are you the manager or me?" I would then continue with the meetings until they fire me. If your directs are permitted to essentially exploit role power to stop a basic managerial function you can't continue as the manager.

But I caution that you must evaluate what/how you are doing the meetings. If they arnt bringing visual, measurable value then maybe you need to fix that first. HR may be trying to address a round issue with a square hammer.

cim44's picture

I agree with buhlerar - find out what your boss OR the relevant "powerful people" says.  It would be helpful to know the status of the organizational politics but sounds like that's the last time you have to document.

But how you bring it up could matter.  Based on the facts above, and how my own manager is, I'd go in and say "Here's the situation.  HR and other manager told me X (one / two sentences).  This feedback only came from a couple of people so I'm not sure how big a deal I should make of it.  I consider these meetings critical to the success of my team especially in light of the fact that we are understaffed.  Have you heard about this feedback, and should I really consider stopping these meetings?

Note - I'd be interested to understand whether the exit interviews said "There are too many meetings" or "This weekly one on one I have on my manager is a waste of time".  Also, did the exit interviewers probe to get to the bottom of it.

Based on your experience, I'm interested to know why you say "This is a great place to work".  Do you think the HR manager is just on a power trip or trying to make it look like they are doing something about turnover without regard to the actual impact?

mfculbert's picture

I am going to ditto Sam44. If your supervisors and HR do not want you to maximize the effectiveness of your team through knowing your people and giving clear feedback then you really do need to rethink your opinion of the "Great place to work." 

Good luck!

DuanePoorman's picture

Sounds like to me the 2 months of poor performance and the key project that is behind schedule are cruicial factors.  From the outside (HR and your peer) looking in, the meetings look like a lot of non-value-added time especially with the increasing pressure to solve the problem(s) now.  In other words, they think the the time could be better spent working on the problem(s) instead of meeting.

And don't worry about the too many meetings comments.  I'm sure there are many other meetings besides the O3s's and your weekly staff meeting.  Those 2 could have utilized some calendar control and avoided the other meetings that weren't high enough on their priority list.

 

tbcox's picture

Chaps -

Your firm has more problems than you are presenting.  Look at this incident -- the HR request/demand -- as one example out of many.  Is there a pattern?  The pattern might look like:

  1. do managers judge others without investigating the truth?
  2. do managers get HR to tell you X because they aren't willing to come to you directly about X?
  3. does HR nott push back or ask deeper questions?
  4. do decisions get reached and acted upon in haste without deeper understanding?
  5. do you get policy decisions handed to you without your involvement?

Seriously, you're coming here to ask us why your employer is doing something.  We can't possibly know.  Your employer knows.  How often do you find yourself baffled by your employer yet unable to ask candidly about something and why it's happening?

You and your boss are both engaged in "management by rumor."  Stop it.  

 

My suggestions are:

  1. Get your resume in order -- seriously, this place is screwed up.
  2. Politely ask the HR person whether they are taking over responsibility for the productivity of your team.
  3. Politely ask your boss why HR is telling you how to run your team, and whether he's okay with that.  If rapport is good, bring up the fact that your firm is being managed by rumors.
  4. Start holding "walking o3s" -- you and your direct get clipboards, and talk to each other for 30 minutes while walking around the plant, stopping every few feet to point at some object or device.  Maybe the first and last 5 minutes are in the office, and the rest of the time is spent walking.  This is absurd, of course, but your situation is absurd.

Best of luck.

 -Tom

naraa's picture

"I was this week told by my HR manager and another peer that I should stop doing O3s for my 6 directs as they  believe them to be "non-value adding" and showing that I am not "empowering" my team to make decisions on their own. "

It is completely contradictory from HR to tell you to stop doing the O3´s because your team need to make decisions of their own!  What about you making decisions of your own!?  You can counter argument their argument based on logic alone.  

I do agree with comments from others that decisions seems to be made or at least opinions expressed based on impressions not precisely linked to facts.   Bring the facts up the table.  Can you say something positive about what has happened prior to the 2 months your team is facing poor factory performance and project running behind schedule?  How have things changed within the 16th months you ran the O3´s without facing the poor performance?  Answer the question to yourself and to others on how you will use the O3´s to improve performance and to get you back on schedule and to bring improvement in the factories performance.  Identify clearly why you are behind schedule, and facing poor performance, but don´t concentrate on the why, concentrate on how you and your team will help to overcome it.

I fully agree with item 2 of the answer from Tom, is the HR manager going to be responsible for the bad or the good performance of your team or you and your direct boss, manager is?  I bet you are, so you need to be able to run your team as you decise is better for the team´s performance in the short but also in the medium and long term.

I don´t know which power the HR manager has within your company, but the company I work for the power is with the direct boss.  HR can only recommend.  So I do agree with other people´s recommendation that you must check with your boss.  You say you like the work place and the work environment.  So it maybe that it is only these two people´s opinion.  You can still listen to, but just use what is useful to you out of it, continue with your work.  Perhaps you don´t even have to respond to them giving too much reasons.  Just give the facts.  1 1/2 hours a week in meetings (O3´s and group meeting) is too much?  "Not empowering my team to make decisions on their own?"  What do the O3´s have to do with it?  Again, there is no direct logic between having the meetings and not empowering the team.  In fact it can be quite the contrary, because by building trust on them and from them on you, through the O3´s, that is exactly how you empower them to make decisions on their own.  And decisions of course which you as their manager will make your own and respond to them shall they turn out to be good or bad.  

"How do I respond to this?"

Do you need to?  If you do, ask them to explain to you why they see the O3´s as the cause of not empowering the team.  Perhaps there is some truth somewhere on not empowering but which is not on the O3´s.  I am saying perhaps there is because there is always something we can improve on.  But based on the lack of forsight and logic on the arguments used by your Peer and the HR I doubt there is actually some value on what they are saying.

"What am I doing wrong with my O3s and Staff meeting that others see them as "wrong"."  

You are probably not doing anything wrong.   There is always something we can improve, but I doubt you are doing things wrong.  They cannot base their opinion from the opinion of two people leaving.

"Can anyone give me some guidance on how to measure the success of the O3s and staff meetings so that I can show their value?"

There are arguments in terms of justifying the O3´s (structured, documented communication, anticipation of problems,...), but the only way to really show to others the value of the O3´s is through the accomplishments of your team.  Focus on those, and of course your team is much more than the two months you are facing trouble.  

Usually when trouble comes there is a lot of people to point to the problem, but very few people really to point and implement the solution.  How are you going to get out of the problems by stopping the meetings also challenges me.  How is 6 hours a week in meeting saved supposed to get you out of trouble if you are short of 2 people?  Focus on identifying what you should do to shift people´s perception of a team in difficulty to a team which knows how to get out and is getting out of a difficult situation and you will regain your freedom to run your team as you please.

Nara

GlennR's picture

I'm going to approach this from a different angle; do not read this as I disagree with anything said above or that I don't believe you.

First, what successes can you point to as a result of your 03's? If you've been doing them for awhile, you should have some. Those should be discussed with your boss.

Second, have you solicited feedback from your directs asking them how they view 03's? You say nothing about how your remaining directs feel about the meetings. The assumption running through this thread is that they add value, but are you sure? Do these meetings move you closer to your business goals or are you just spinning your wheels? I'm wondering if you're really having effective meetings or if perhaps you need to improve your skills at listening.

Third,  The larger problem here seems to be your team's (perceived) lack of productivity.  HR seems to have engaged in what might be thoughtful analysis and hit the nail on the head, or they're guilty of a drive-by shooting and they've misdiagnosed the problem. Your boss and you should take a holistic look at everything where 03's are one component in your system. Perhaps, for example,  other non-03 meetings could be eliminated by relying more on a project management virtual space (e.g. Basecamp or something similar).

 

Good luck,

 

Glenn

jib88's picture

 I have to disagree with some of the advice on here.

First determine if you need to do anything with the feedback. How powerful is your HR? How influential is your peer? Can you simply ignore them or tell them that you know how to do your job and you find the meetings effective?

Second, consider a heads-up to your boss, depending on the relationship and how well your boss likes to stay informed. You don't want your boss getting a notice from HR and then telling you to stop the O3s, because then you really will have to stop them.

If you determine that you need to stop the O3s or if your boss tells you to stop, then do so or change them appropriately (even if it is only temporary). Do not get yourself in trouble over this. The goal of O3s is improved performance and better relationships. O3s are an effective way to achieve this, but are not the only way. There are others ways to achieve these goals, and there is plenty of advice in the forums around what to do if your boss tells you to stop doing O3s.

To reiterate, I am not telling you to stop doing O3s. You need to decide if that is prudent. But stopping them is an option. Your goal is effectiveness, not rightousness.

-JIB

Solitaire's picture

Another thing to consider is whether you could stop the O3s and staff meetings temporarily, or reduce the frequency.

You can resume these (or pick up the tempo) again once you've hired the 2 new people and they are up to speed on their work and the plant issues have been resolved. 

If there really are urgent work issues that an extra 6 hours a week could help resolve, then that could be the most effective use of yours and your team's time over then next couple of months.

Good luck,

Solitaire.

nze5364's picture

We need to be flexible as managers and there will be times when O3s aren't the number one priority in an organisation. I love what they are about and what they deliver but demonstrable results are key to the organisation. Take the step back and review the O3s within the totality of the meetings taking place within the department and see where they fit. Look to scale back all meetings where you don't think they add the necessary value and if that includes O3s for a time, do so. Of course you should keep everyone updated with the rationale for changes but I suspect they are too busy to really notice at the moment. If you do scale back O3s then look to bring them up back as soon as you can reasonably can.

All the best

Nick

 

 

buhlerar's picture

You said HR and a peer said you should stop -- what about your own manager?  When I recommended not backing down, my rationale is that you shouldn't determine your management approach by disgruntled employees, peers, or HR (if HR is merely echoing complaints of disgruntled employees).  I agree with the more recent comments that you should be able to show how O3s are productive and if they aren't, change your approach to make them productive.  But your manager's opinion is a big factor in how you proceed here.

jbancroftconnors's picture

I agree with GLENNR on talking to the team. Not sure the best way to go about that, given the whole "I can fire you" letters on your forehead (maybe someone else has ideas) but you need to find out what your team thinks. One thought would be to conduct regular Hotwash Retrospectives in the staff meeting. Get a regular level of feedback going and you'll start getting better feedback.

Also the point on effectiveness is important. Since doing the O3s what can you point to on the team being different from before? 

I'm certainly with the "stick with it crowd," and you also have to find a way to show value from the meetings to your boss.

Best,

Joel BC

chaps's picture

 Thankyou all.

I truly appreciate the time all of you have taken to reply.

This is a good place to work and I believe that this is an aberration rather than a sign of systemic issues with the business. I appreciate the concerns and I believe that the Peer manager and HR Manager think that they are honestly trying to help however misguided or ill-informed that may be.

My concerns stem from the fact that they are more politically connected and their opinion is more strongly held by the senior managers in the org hence why I want to handle the situation properly.

my political relationship building is important and an issue for another day.

I have a brand new manager so talking to her at the time was not something that I wanted to do (who wants to start their brand new manager thinking that one of their new direct can't play well with others?) .

 

The situation has me doubting my effectiveness in how I conduct the O3s and that they may not be delivering what they are designed to do. 

I have been focusing on Quantity and I may have messed up the Quality aspect of the O3s.

 

Here is what I plan on doing:

- Re listen to the O3 Podcasts

- do a hotwash with the remaining team on what works and what didn't with the O3's and Staff meeting

- restart/relaunch the O3s

- do more of the O3s out in the plant walking around. I think this has 2 benefits: I get to be in an environment that is more relaxed for the direct and we are seen out in the plant rather than in the office

- keep my new manager uptodate with the plant performance issues and our plans so that I have their support and I can build a great relationship.

 

Does anyone have any measures that they use to measure the Quality of their O3s?

 

Thank you very much for all of your responses. I am humbled by the support and advice available from all of you.

 

Chaps.

naraa's picture

 Chaps, thanks for the response and update. 

I don´t know about how to measure the quality of the O3´s, but I have recently been relistening to the podcasts on the DISC profiles, the I in DISC, the S in DISC,... how to manage an I, how to manage a C, C manager downfall, D manager downfall, and so on.  They are so useful and I am seeing them now from a different perspective from when I first heard them.  Do you know your and the DISC profile of your team and are you using that knowledge in delegating and giving feedback?  The comment "not empowering" could have come from a high D, high I being managed by a high S high C.

Just a thought.

Best of luck.

Nara

chaps's picture

 Hi Nara,

thanks for that insight.

I am a High S High D and my directs that left were both High D, High C.

 

 

Thanks for bringing this up - it makes a lot more sense now.

Time to listen to the DISC casts again.

 

Thanks