So, I scheduled the O3s with my 4 person team. One of the members, "blew off" the meeting.

Three people willing accepted the O3s. With those, the meeting went great, and they were positive about the meetings.

The third person, the one who I thought wouldn't want to meet in the first place, didn't accept the meeting and didn't come at the time I scheduled.

When I asked him about meeting, he said he didn't want to schedule a time. "Just stop by when you want to meet", he said.

This person is the senior member of the team. He has "technical leadership" responsibilities, but I was hired as a manager after the job was offered to him.

When the time came for the meeting, I asked if he was ready and he made an excuse that he wasn't ready.

I know that the MT response to this type of problem is feedback. But I'm a new manager, in a new company, with a established team; and I'm not comfortable giving feedback until I've described the model in O3s.. Which obviously aren't happening yet with individual.

I'm patient, and can explain again, to him, that I need him to meet with me. But does anyone have any suggestions for proceeding based on their own experience.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

juliahhavener's picture
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You're new. He's old. I understand your concern about the feedback model.

You need to give him the option of times, but not the option of attending. There is no preparation required for this first meeting. Did you use the 'intro' email that was with the original podcast? My team members really seemed to get it with that.

"I know you're busy, but this is a must. I can't help you if I don't know you." If you've listened to disc stuff you can better tailor this to your guy. "I need you to set aside 30 minutes of your week to meet with me. This meething isn't optional."

tomas's picture

Make sure he knows that this is going to be a regular weekly meeting, and it will be a lot easier if it is scheduled at a given time week in and week out. You will really need to make sure you respect the scheduling of O3's for your other staff to send the message that you are taking it seriously.

If he says that he isn't ready, you can respond that it doesn't matter (not in an aggressive way) . It is better to get the first one out of the way, and as long as you are prepared it won't be wasted time. You can just have a shortened meeting if he really has nothing to contribute. Something along the lines of "Thats ok, we just need to discuss how O3's are going to work and get the ball rolling. It'll only take a few minutes."

I can understand not wanting to pull rank when you are in a new situation, but you run the risk that he will undermine your position as a manager. Go to him and tell him that you are ready to do the O3. If he says he isn't ready then you need to have him commit to a specific time when he will be. If he blows that meeting off, then some feedback in surely in order.

akinsgre's picture

Thanks Julia and Tomas.

I did use the introductory email. I agree with both your advice. I'm going to steadily increase the pressure. I'm looking for more advice as to whether the approach I am considering has a decent likelihood of being successful.

A little more background. My boss has spoken to both me and "Jim" (not real name...).

The boss explained that I had responsibilities for team organization, meeting schedule and resources. He explained that Jim is responsible for technical leadership.

The boss soft-pedals a bit and talks about him taking on leadership, but doesn't address his behaviors.

In fact, yesterday Jim delivered a Report, for which he'd been given a noon deadline, at 4:30PM. The boss said, to me, it wasn't that big a deal because they didn't really need it. And yet, I was hired in part because this Jim has missed more critical deadlines in the past, and is considered lazy (by the boss. He's said that several times).

All this can be improved using the "Trinity". I have no doubt of that. But, at this point, I don't want to cause trouble early. I don't want to put my boss in the position of defending me (I haven't really proved myself yet). And I don't want to alienate the team by being overly aggressive (since they've all been held to such low standards, they don't see how Jim's behavior will impact them if they are forced to focus more on performance).

On one hand, I think the "it's not optional" thing will be supported by my boss. On the other hand, I think that will get our relationship off on the wrong foot early.

This guy thinks he has power in the organization. If I "force" him to attend the meeting, he'll resent that.

Does anyone see any problems in "hiding" the O3s under the guise of a status, or design meeting? I feel like I'll be able to build the relationship, increase communication, and find opportunities to convince him that a formal communication mechanism will help him be more effective, and consequently more powerful.

jhack's picture

Do not hide the O3 under the guise of something else. Your request is reasonable. His behavior is not.

US41's last comment on the following thread is relevant here:

You have to ask: is he the only person in the world with the requisite technical skills?

So document his behavior starting now (you should document all O3's anyway) and brush up on the "late stage coaching" podcasts.


akinsgre's picture

[quote="jhack"]So document his behavior starting now (you should document all O3's anyway) and brush up on the "late stage coaching" podcasts.

To your and US41's comments on documentation... Thanks!! I'd been waiting on O3s & and formally starting Feedback before I started documenting. You just helped me avoid that mistake.

I KNOW he's not indispensable. I do think that management will view me as a "boat rocker" if I engage with this person before I've established my own credibility.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

If you're his boss then you get to tell him what to do and when to do it (within reason). If you book a meeting with him then he has a duty to attend or to give you a reason why he can't at that time and co-operate with you in rescheduling.

My feeling is that, today, you should schedule a session in week commencing 26st November (3 weeks from now, as M&M have said very few people book that far ahead), if you can get a look at his calendar without his knowing (I don't mean sneaking around and rifling through his desk but if it's online in Outlook/Notes/whatever and you can get access[1] have a look) then find a time that's clear. If he accepts, great, but he hasn't responded by Monday (5th) lunch time drop him an email gently reminding him to respond. If he hasn't responded by Wednesday (7th) lunchtime drop him a mail saying that as he hasn't rejected the meeting you take it he's accepted. If he rejects the meeting then ask him to stop by your office/cube with a copy of his scedule for that week at a specified time that day (or, if it's late in the day, before lunchtime the following day), if he says he has a meeting at that time then find out when the meeting is due to start and finish and arrange for him to come to you 10 minutes before or 30 minutes after he has to go to/return from (the reason fior more time after is so that if the meeting over runs by 10 minutes he can't just say "Sorry, meeting over ran." and disapear thinking he's 'Stuck one to the boss' and got away with it), if he just says he's busy then ask him "Doing what?" and either get him to take time out from that task or (if you have time right then) say "OK, I guess we'll do it right now. Get your calendar" and walk him to your office/cube/desk. Once you're both there get your calendar out and identify a slot when you're both free and put the O3 in both calendars.

Week commencing 12th Nov send him a reminder of the meeting in w/c 26th and schedule the O3 for w/c 3rd December. In the intervening time if he comes to you with a query that isn't particularly time sensitive and can wait until the O3 say "Great! We'll look at that in your O3 at (date and time of O3)." and make a note of it on his O3 form in the section for the first 10 minutes (things the direct wants to raise) That way he's got an incentive to attend.

When the O3 comes around if he doesn't show then just reschedule for later that week, if he asks for the answers to his queries just say "We'll pick that up at your O3." When you get him sat down wait for him to raise the things he's come to you about before, if he misses any that can't be dropped pick them up in the final 10 minutes.

This way, if he tries to cause trouble with your boss, you can show that you've acted reasonably throughout (obviously you should document everything) and it is his behaviour that is the issue.


[1] I firmly believe that as a minimum everyone should be able to view calendars from their boss, their directs and their skips, ideally everyone can view everyones calendar. and that where it's available everyone should use the calendaring function of Outlook/Notes/Groupwise/Whatever as their primary work calendar. This isn't some oversight or checking up thing (if you have time to go trawling through calendars on a whim then you're missing an opportunity to improve or do more productive work), just so that if you need to know where they are (e.g. because you need them to be somewhere), need to know what they're doing (e.g. your boss or bosses boss walks up and asks you what X is doing) or need to book a meeting with them then you can easily do so.

ccleveland's picture

Your relationship with "Jim" is not very clear to me. Clearly, you see him as one of your directs. Are you [u]accountable[/u] for his work? Do you have performance review/fire/raise/bonus authority/responsibility? If not, then you could continue to have difficulty until your boss clarifies your relationship as your boss is still his boss. I'll assume for the rest of this post that the answers are yes.

It seems that he does not see you as his boss. This may be because your boss "soft-pedals;" however, as his manager, you have a responsibility to him and the company to make sure that he knows how his behavior is affecting the organization.

It's okay to be flexible, meet when he wants to meet, etc., as long as you meet your objective. I would even suggest that you ask his help and advice. However, be clear about what must get done. Do not start practicing "soft-pedaling" yourself just because you haven't "proved yourself yet." You'd just prove yourself as a "soft-pedaler."

In short, be nice. Be honest. Make sure you meet your objectives.


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

Sometimes being a manager isn't easy. Guess what, this is one of those times.

You're the boss, he's testing his boundaries.

Don't wait for O3s. Don't wait for feedback. Don't wait for coaching. Don't soft-pedal. Don't do all the things that are easy that you know you shouldn't be doing. Don't wimp out. You know what's right here, you're just not confident because you haven't been doing it yet. What would Mark say? I think it would sound like "Get over it. Do your job."

It's okay to give him feedback without explaining the model first. He needs the feedback! Your boss thinks this guy is lazy. His career is being hurt by his approach and nobody has the guts to tell him! So, if you don't give him feedback; if you don't get him turned around, if you take the easy road, you're doing him a HUGE dis-service.

RichRuh's picture
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You NAILED it.


US41's picture

I agree with Will, also.

You being new means you need to take the reigns right away, not establish a culture of weakness. Give that feedback.

"... when you fail to attend the o3 at the scheduled time, I think you are intentionally being insubordinate. What can you do differently?"

"but [insert excuses]"

"That's nice. What can you do differently?"


"When shall I put you down for?"

"Let's talk about it later."

"Can I give you some more feedback? When you delay scheduling your o3, I get the impression you think you don't work for me, and I start thinking this isn't going to work out. What can you do differently?"

Stay on him until he cracks and the meeting is scheduled.

This time next year, he'll tell you what a good idea he had coming up with these o3 meetings you two have been having all year and probably take credit for them in his annual review.

Don't cave. Drive. It's your job.

LouFlorence's picture
Training Badge


Will is spot on.

It's gut check time. You don't have to worry about establishing your credibility -- this guy has already dis-established it. Now you need to get it back.

Feedback, feedback, feedback. Don't explain the model -- he'll get it.

Even if you are nervous, even if the words don't come out right and you have to say them again, even if he doesn't agree to change, you still need to do it -- as simply and dispassionately as possible.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.


akinsgre's picture

[quote="ccleveland"]Your relationship with "Jim" is not very clear to me. Clearly, you see him as one of your directs. Are you [u]accountable[/u] for his work? Do you have performance review/fire/raise/bonus authority/responsibility?

I've been told that I will have responsibility for the schedule to which he contributes.

Right now, I've a contract employee at the company. In six months, barring any problems, I'll be hired fulltime. In the org chart, we all report to my boss. However, my boss has tried to make clear that certain people have responsibilities for certain areas.

He talked to both me and Jim and explained that Jim is the technical lead, but I am the development manager.

Right now, my boss has not asked me to be accountable for his work. He's told me that when the current project is over, I'll begin getting authority/responsibility for making sure the team meets it's deadlines.

akinsgre's picture

The O3 was scheduled for Thursday. On Friday he came over and asked it I could meet.

This is start.

I'll continue on the tacks you all recommend, and I'm sure my relationship with Jim will improve.

Thanks for encouraging me to persevere.

ascott's picture

Without disputing the efficacy of the tips you've already been given, I want to help you cover off a flank you might have overlooked:

Is this a company where deadlines have always been allowed to slip and where meetings were always "understood" to be optional for someone at Jim's level? Or where, culturally speaking, it was just understood that meetings required consent?

Ensuring that Jim has an identical understanding of the situation is your job, not his. How many times, as employees, have we had to work for someone who expects us to read minds? Not a lot of fun, that.

During one of your meetings, take the time to be satisfy yourself that Jim understands your expectations perfectly, and manage the situation up by making sure your boss will (at the very least) back you up (if not agree with you). I had a near identical situation, and eventually the employee said to me "Does [my boss] know you're telling me this?" They're quite shocked when they find out that you have authority and backing for running your team, your way.

Good luck though. There's lots of Jims out there. Often, when you get into a groove, they get actually turn out to be very productive employees.

akinsgre's picture

Thanks ascott.

You're absolutely right about the culture of the organization (At least meetings aren't really scheduled; they're kind of "anticipated".

I will take time to talk about my expectations with him. In fact, now that you mention it; I can encourage him through some of the conversations that I would expect to have with my new boss.

Jim is just "adjusting" to the change. As long as we make progress, and I don't make the mistake of not being clear about my objectives, then I think he'll continue the progress he's already made.