My team lead holds O3's with team members and I don't think he's listened to podcast.  At one of our O3's he suddenly unloads on me - tells me how the working relationship isn't working, how he doesn't have the power to change it, says he can't trust me, lists out a bunch of things I've done wrong over the past four months, etc.  I was totally blown away.  We had just come off a very successful deployment and I have a very good working relationship with my team.  Most of the issues weren't mine or were things that had been dealt with.  

Clearly this is a good example of why daily feedback works best when the smaller issues could have been dealt with.  What a mess - I left the meeting very angry and any kind of trust I had in the lead was gone.  Things haven't gotten any better.

So I have two questions, first, is there a case for declining a O3 with a manager or team lead?  In this situation, I have very little interest in meeting with the lead in an unstructured O3 - meetings around project schedule, tasks, objectives, etc are okay since the discussion is focused on the success of the project, not each other.

Second, is there a way to recover from a O3 mess?


acao162's picture

Sorry, I'm left a little confused as to your role here.  Can you clairify?

bug_girl's picture

agree with ACA here--not sure of your role (direct? Manager?).

But--avoiding this person will not make things better, since clearly they have an issue.

You're going to have to engage them and figure out what is really wrong. And it will not be fun at all :(

jhbchina's picture

Go back to the Next O3.

Talk about wanting a collaborative meeting and discussion. Present MT as a tool that has helped you, give examples. Focus on the mutual benefits of improving the working climate.

Ask them to listen to try a cast or two. Hope this helps. Keep us posted.

JHB  "00"

NickA's picture

It's going to be much easier for you to change the way you're dealing with this situation than it is for you to change the way your boss is dealing with the situation.  The situation you describe is ugly, and it sounds like there's room for your boss to improve, but responding to the conduct you describe by telling them what to do is unlikely to produce the results you want.  Don't ask them to look at this site, don't give them advice at all: they've said they don't trust you, and it's in your interest to take that statement seriously.

Remember that people learn best when they have the opportunity to make meaningful decisions, and when those decisions have consequences.  They've chosen to tell you a lot of negative things that they have apparently been holding back on for 4 months.  The best possible outcome for you in this situation (assuming you don't decide to get a job elsewhere) is to leave them feeling that they have misjudged you horribly, and deciding that they will give you the benefit of the doubt in future.  To achieve that outcome, you'll need to follow bug_girl's advice.

Specific wording that might work at your next o3 could include:

"Last week, you told me that you'd been disappointed by a number of aspects of my performance over the last several months.  I'm unhappy that you're disappointed.  I was especially unhappy when you said [original words here], because the message I took from that is that you don't trust me.  I want to be perceived as trustworthy, and I want you to be pleased with my performance, not disappointed by it.  So I feel like there's a serious problem here, and I want to fix it."

Ideally, you continue to say something about your specific plan for fixing the problem by meeting your boss's needs more effectively, and asking for feedback on the plan.  Alternatively, you say that you need help coming up with a specific plan and ask them to help you come up with something.

Expect to hear more things that you won't like hearing.  Be ready for the possibility that you have in fact been screwing things up for your boss, despite the fact that you feel successful in what you're doing - I spent a very large portion of my career delighting my customers while making my bosses miserable.  Be aware that being clever and smart and delivering outcomes is all great stuff, but if your bullshit to outcome ratio is carrying too much bullshit, then people lose interest in the outcomes, and start focussing on getting rid of the bullshit.  Your report suggests that your boss sees you the way my bosses used to see me.  Make it clear to them that they have an opportunity to get rid of the bullshit without getting rid of you.

kddonath's picture

The role question is a good one: I'm in a matrixed organization.  The team lead is a program manager out of an organization responsible for managing projects.  He's responsible for cost, schedule and customer communications.  I'm in an engineering organization and am responsible for technical development.

So I have an engineering manager who I report to (responsible for project assignments, overall engineering process, engineering direction), a program manager (responsible for a specific project cost/sched/delivery), and a skill center manager (who is responsible for my performance appraisal, making sure I'm allocated, enforcing company policy).   Make sense?  lol!   On the organization charts, this last person is the one I report to directly, the other's I'm matrixed to.  In reality, the engineering manager is my real manager since their the one I work most closely with and they'll have the biggest impact on my performance appraisal.

This gets more complicated since I work on a couple different projects which means there are other people in the mix that I report to.  I also have my own team that I direct.

In this case the person I'm having the issue with is the program manager.