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Submitted by nicelyjj on


Hey guys,

How do I get through to an Operator who refuses to speak in O3s?

I have 1 union employee who is pushing the union to force me to stop doing O3s because he believes they are disciplinary meetings. I'm not worried about that at this time, I believe I have firm ground to stand on. The issue I have is that he will not say a single word in his One on Ones, this has been going on since June of 2015. Started O3s in March 2015 (brought MTs with me from my previous position) with full participation from him. Due to me being temporarily assigned to another shift we had a 6 month break before I was back on that shift in January 2016. Still no communication.

A long story short I have given him +/-FB numerous times for how he communicates with people. I have had to walk away from him multiple times because of his communication. I have documented the instances on the back of the O3 forms, and documented +/-FB there as well. After numerous instances I had a sit down with him and a union rep where I pulled out the O3 folder and went over the +/- FB I had given and explained to him the way he communicated was unacceptable. And of course O3s are now disciplinary meetings because I had kept the performance notes in them.

Since that date he has requested a union representative to be in all of his O3s which I have granted without issue and has not spoken in them since. He most recently brought with him the Union President and VP. They tried to strong arm me and not once mentioned discipline but instead said that these meetings gave an operator the ability to talk bad about another union member and they had to present a unified front. The Union President also demanded that I have a union representative available in all my O3s. I will have to bring my union stewart to all my O3s. I'll give you one guess who the union stewart is on my shift. I find it amusing that the person who hates O3s will now have to attend all of them. But that amusement will not last long I'm afraid.

I will keep pressing on with O3s and +/- FB. And I refuse to believe I don't have the ability to demand professional communication with coworkers.



dozrman's picture
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Not sure if this is right, but it sounds like you are in a union shop and 1 of the members on the team objects?  Is there only 1 out of the entire team?  If so, that is not so bad.  Also, why would you have to let the union steward attend all of your O3s? Regardless, this is a dimension that brings on some additional complexity. There is also the matter of how much support your boss and the rest of the chain of command will give you.  If I was you, I would comply with this request in the short-term with a big smile on my face.  You will likely be unable to convince them (union stewards)  that 03s are a good idea, but by being transparent, nice and professional, you will not make the situation any worse.  It will also show that you are reasonable and flexible.  I would also make sure that you are balancing your positive and negative feedback.  In the interim, I would suggest getting help from other resources in your company.  This would not be a situation to solve on your own.  Ultimately, this may be a legal question on how to modify your 03s and you need to be aligned with your chain of command before pushing back.  Let us know how it works out.

nicelyjj's picture
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Thank you!
Yes, a union shop and the union Stewart on my shift is the resistant direct who will attend all of my one on one's per the union president. I had 100% buy-in until I had the sit down with my him for the unprofessional way he communicates. Since then he's requested a union official granted by Winegarten Rights. I have continued to be open to this request and have continued +/- FB. I actively seek out times to be positive and often will use walking away from him as the negative FB.

I just listened to the resistant direct cast again and will follow it's advise to keep frosty and keep going. I will also work to build trust with him. I will also work to de-escalate by controlling my own frustrations and setting the standard for how we communicate.

I'll update in a few months!

Thanks again,


beccagets's picture

I'm not used to working in union shops, but I've just got to bring a little levity into the situation. I always thought unions were all about increasing the voice of their employees in the company. Guess that giving each employee one on one time with management doesn't count as that?

nicelyjj's picture
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All of my other directs appreciate O3s and we have great conversations. The funny thing is that he was absolutely fantastic in the O3s he attended in his Stewart capacity. I even told him it was the best O3 we've had. He's been out since early April with personal issues but when he returns beginning of June I plan to give the +FB again. In his absence we have had new members join the team and I'm continuing to build them and the rest of the shift up to be leaders and set high expectations for themselves. My hope is that when he returns they will set the tone for him and he will either fall in Iine or leave. I'll update again in July.

kevin_cross's picture

I saw this post several weeks ago and didn't say anything because I figured it would be solved pretty quickly.

First, you gave no examples of exactly what's unacceptable. I know a woman who thinks a man saying, "I don't agree" is pretty much automatically inappropriate (she's a sexist). I'm not calling you a sexist, I'm saying that people have different standards and I'd love to hear an example of inappropriate communication.

Other than that, I really think there's a problem that no one here has even touched on yet....What does your direct think? What would you think in his position?

You make him come and talk to you 30 minutes per week. He talks about work, personal stuff, whatever....then you used it against him. You completely broke any trust he had with you. The "Trust Bank" is a tough creditor and you'll likely never get a loan from him again. To him, you are a liar and you betrayed him. You didn't forcefully steal information from him, you manipulated him, you lied to him so he would trust you, made him think you cared, and when he told you things, you used those things against him. Regardless of what you think, that's what he thinks.

Does this make sense: I said something and it was used against me. I can't stop going to the meeting but there's no way I'm going to give you anymore information to use against me.

He speaks in meetings as a steward because he's not "in the meeting" he's just there to make sure you're following the rules...He has "immunity" in that capacity.

techmgr's picture
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Kevin, we don't attack people here. Your response is inappropriate and unhelpful. And it makes me doubt your knowledge and experience with the manager tools feedback model and one on ones. I recommend you listen, and learn.

kevin_cross's picture

I wasn't attacking anyone. I was trying to point out the source of the problem. The problem I was trying to state is that the direct feels betrayed because information he openly gave in good faith was used against him. He now doesn't trust his manager.

I'm only saying that once someone shows they can't be trusted (in the directs eyes) the likelyhood of that person being trusted in the future is very low. 




mmcconkie's picture

kevin_cross, I agree that the tone of your post was inappropriate. But even if you weren't attacking, I think you may have misunderstood the original post. You say, "You make him come and talk to you 30 minutes per week. He talks about work, personal stuff, whatever....then you used it against him." The original post never points out the O3s were used against this direct. It just so happened that the O3 folder was the documentation spot for the feedback. That negates your claims that trust was broken (at least in this way - you're right that we don't have all the details). We don't have any evidence of manipulation, lying, not caring, or using O3 information against this direct. In the future, you may want to avoid using words with such negative connotations when giving recommendations. It will hinder the reception of the recommendation because it can leave a bad taste in the mouth of the recipient. 

My recommendation to nicelyjj is to create a new file specifically for feedback. I know that may seem like a bit of a hassle. But if this employee is linking negative feedback to O3s, then try and separate the two pieces of the trinity. 

nicelyjj's picture
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So very sorry I didn't make my posts clear from the beginning. I didn't intend to type as much as I did, but sometimes I add too much fluff and not enough BLUF. BLUF I wanted to know how to get a resistant direct to open back up in O3s. I've since found the answer by listening to MTs recommendations on resistant directs. I'm staying frosty and not giving up on him. Kevin_Cross: I agree with you that I have lost his trust. I work to gain it back by not caving to his level of communication but holding mine exactly where I said I would. And a very very healthy dose of staying frosty. Thanks for providing input! mmcconkie: I thought about splitting out O3s notes and previous weeks +/-FB, but its a recommendation made by MTs and those guys rock. Very much rock stars to me! Thanks for providing input! ******************** Below this line is where things get really into the weeds. I've provided condensed versions of my notes in an effort to save my fingers (your time). Details: *In this case no information given in an O3 was used in my sit down with my Steward and a union rep. I do not plan to ever use information unless such information is egregious in nature that it can't be kept confidential (see cast on confidentiality). +/- FB: I started my role late March '15. (Prior to detailed notes) Early April '15 - Steward in the break room raised his voice and began cussing in disagreement with how operations were being handled. I asked him to please remain calm and speak professionally. He raised his voice louder saying that he was calm and I'd damn well know when he wasn't being calm. At that point I got up and left the break room. towards the end of the shift I sat down with him and the other operator in the room and explained how I would communicate with them, I've given the line a few times and it goes like this; "I will never yell at you, put you down or belittle you in any way. I will maintain a professional composure at all times. If I feel I cannot do these things I will walk away. This is how I will communicate with you. This is how I expect/demand you to communicate with me. If you cannot do these things I will walk away." (start of detailed notes - I wasn't planning on +/-FB this early based on MT recommendations of delaying after start of O3s) *13.05 +FB professional communication in meeting *13.05 +FB for walking away from heated argument with different manager/Shift Engineer *16.05 Walked into the break room (full of 2 shifts of operators) and Steward said "Do you spit or swallow?". I said "Do what?". He said "Do you spit or swallow?" I said "OK, time out, we aren't having this conversation, we are done." he said something to the effect that he was referring to the seeds another operator was eating. I left the break room. *21.05 - I called break at 6:15 to get shift started as I was going to be late and asked for the Steward, he said his shift didn't start until 06:30 and couldn't take directions until then. I called back at 06:30 and he picked up and said he couldn't hear what I was saying, handed the phone to another operator. At this point I didn't hear what he said, but I heard the other operator tell him "Don't talk to me like that". *21.05 - Sit down with Steward and union representation on "Discuss communication with coworkers, salary and hourly" -Addressed positives -addressed again how I communicate and expect to be communicated to (including how we communicate with others) -Listed the instances above -Asked him to please work on his communication -Asked him if he wanted to take the rest of the day off with pay because I didn't want to upset him then send him off to get in more trouble (I was assigned another shift for the summer) *09.10 +FB on performance and communication... *12.12 +FB professionally communicating his position while disagreeing... *26.01.16 +FB professionally expressing his issue with... *29.01.16 +FB professionally communicated with tech ops.... *06.03.16 - documented instance of disrespect in morning meeting when Steward disagreed with my position "there is no point in talking to you we might as well not have a manager" *06.03.16 - Steward "not talking to you, don't need nothing from you" *07.03.16 - began start of shift meeting, he asked a question I didn't know the answer to and I said I would find out. he said "I ask you a lot of questions you never know the answer" in a tone that was sarcastic and condescending. I said "we are not starting this this morning" (I own this mistake, should have had thicker skin and held that comment in). He raised his voice and said "I'm just trying to ask my supervisor a question" I turned and left the meeting. I was later approached by the other ops on shift and they apologized for their coworkers behavior, said he was being an ass. *10.03.2016 +FB communication throughout the shift and willingness to help new Ops *(Pending) +FB on his excellent communication skills in the O3s he attending in his capacity as union stewart for other operators. He has been out on medical leave since. I have been working with him on his medical issues and return to work making sure he has everything he needs and communicating constantly with the information I have. He has been appreciative. If you read this far, you rock! Thank you!! Take care, Jon

nicelyjj's picture
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I promise that looked much nicer in preview mode. very sorry its all jumbled up....

etapbeta's picture
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Hi Jon, I don't have advice except for keep doing what you're doing!

Kudos to you for being able to keep such a professional behaviour in face of such a challenge!

I will think of you if I am ever confronted with a similar situation.



WritePaper's picture

I absolutely agree with your opinion!