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Hi everyone,
(are you sitting comfortably? This is REALLY long, sorry)

After trying some other tools, I've started O3s with my reports in October, and until now I made it almost always (in November I broke my foot, and had weekly O3s on the phone from home...). My reports love it: someone is more open, someone else less, but we are all happy :D.

I work in a 'fluid' environment: I have some peers, and we work with more or less 12 reports: depending on the situation, you can work with each report for some time, then stop, the restart after some months in another project.

I usually stop having O3s when the project ends and if I haven't any other project to complete. This is a mutual agreement with the reports, because that saves me time (in a year I'd have O3s with almost everyone, even if it's months I don't work with them), and because I would talk about projects managed by someone else. To talk of other stuff, there is the coffee machine, EVERYTIME they need it.

My peers and I take many decisions all together: for example we have meetings to plan the workload for the reports, to make performance evaluations and so on.
This is not a problem per se: I firmly believe that many heads work better than one, and each idea can be improved. But since I'm the only one having O3s, I feel some kind of divergence with them. I think that some of them are not prepared to have O3s, so they say that it's impossible to do this.

They almost all say that it's impossible to coach everyone in a different way, we haven't enough time, and so we need to create a sort of "teaching plan" equal for everyone. I tried to explain the coaching model, stressing out the fact that it's the coachee who must do the most, and that I coached (oh, well, I did my best) three of my reports "all by myself".

A six-month review was completed in January with personal meetings with all the reports. I was not there: the meetings were conducted by two of my peers. BTW, the meetings showed that those whom I had O3s with liked the initiative. They wanted more contact and communication with us: they already said that last July, but it seems I'm the only one who listened (I'm NOT bragging myself here).
Needless to say, my peers saw the O3s more as a "menace" to their day-to-day work than as an opportunity to improve communication. But they felt forced to do something.

We are still procrastinating a decision (which of course must be taken by the group as a whole), but anyway it seems to be this:
- the six-month review will happen every three or two months.
- Everyone will have O3s, maybe every two weeks, but all the personal stuff of the reports will be discussed in the reviews. The so-called O3s (better if I call them just meetings) will be only about work.

Of course I think that this will water down the effectiveness of the tool. I will go on my way: but I risk to be told by the others that I've gone too far, that it's not my job to talk about personal stuff during weekly meetings, that we decided otherwise, that it's useless in the best of the cases, and in the worst I'm trying to put them in a bad light etc...

And then the last week one of my former O3-reports told me that the work he's doing now is no longer satisfying, because he doesn't receive feedback on what he's doing, he hasn't the full picture of the project like when we had the O3, and he misses coaching, even if it was not always complete in every step. It was a hour-long coffee. I told him to talk with the peer with whom he is working, and ask for a O3, because this will help everybody.

Am I right? What should I do if I don't succeed in promoting O3s as we need?

Thanks in advance (and for reading till here)

Ollicres

bflynn's picture

If I can boil this down to a summary; you work in a matrix environment where you share resources with other project managers. While resources are on your projects, you manage them in the MT way. Your peers feel threatened by your success because it underscores their less successful projects. They want to place limits on your ability to manage in your way.

What does your boss think of your success? To verify, your success in managing these people does translate into better projects?

My short suggestion is not to give into the peer pressure. You have tried to tell them about these methods. If they are not interested, then they can go about their ways on their own. You manage how you believe it should be done.

One thing to be ready for is that you will have a strained relationship with your peers. It could even turn ugly with them actively taking actions to sabotage your work. Be prepared to deal with any actions like that directly and professionally. I would hope that you work with people of enough character that this will not be a problem, but I've seen it happen. Stay professional.

In the end, manage the best way you know how. Someone above will recognize it and you will move up. Do not allow your peer's acceptance of mediocrity to hold you back.

Brian

juliahhavener's picture

[quote="bflynn"]In the end, manage the best way you know how. Someone above will recognize it and you will move up. Do not allow your peer's acceptance of mediocrity to hold you back.[/quote]

I think Brian said it very well. It's not always easy, and you'll need to err on the side of effectiveness when it comes to direct dealings with your peers, but you can and should continue to hold your O3's as normal.

douglase's picture

It's been a little while, but I was dead against 1 on 1s. Really.. I didn't see how I could use them. So i listened to the pod-cast. It made me reconsider, and now I do consider them important.

If you have an ok working relationship with them, I would suggest that you talk with them (individually) and give them a copy of the podcast on 1 on 1s on a cd (audio file). You may find it beneficial.

Douglas.

Mark's picture

Sorry this took so long.

Stop worrying about what you can't control. Your peers don't get it, and they don't work for you. Fine.

Keep doing what you're doing. Let those peers who get it start, and let the directs who want it lobby for more.

Let it happen slowly.

Mark

ollicres's picture

Thanks so much to you all for your answers and your support.

Update: my former direct report last week said that he's going to leave, to try something that he really wants to pursue, his kind of dream since he graduated.

Honestly, I dont't think this is related to his last three months working with my peers (and being not satisfied as before): even if his situation were better, he'd probably have quit anyway.

But nonetheless his decision took all of us by surprise (me included), so this will probably make us reflect about how we are working with our direct reports, especially the high potential ones. Who knows, maybe it will be easier for me to grow with O3s, coaching, feedback, etc..., which, BTW, I never thought to stop trying!

Thank you again

Ollicres