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Submitted by cruss on


 BLUF: My manager currently does monthly, hour long O3s. Can I ask for 30 minutes every two weeks, and any suggestions on how to ask?

Let me give you a bit of background. I'm sys admin working in the IT department of a financial institution. My manager has 20 directs, all sys admins or database admins.  He is well regarded as a great manager, and is one of the best managers I've worked for. He is easily identifiable as a High S/Mid C profile. While he doesn't know about MT, he frequently does things in a very MT way. I would call him an inadvertent MT style manager.
Case in point are the O3s and the fact that he does them at all. As I said, they are one hour long, once a month. During which he lets the direct talk about whatever they want. He then takes his opportunity to discuss whatever topics that he needs if the direct didn't already bring them up. He discusses ongoing projects, annual goals, and inquires about the directs family and hobbies. It feels very much like a MT style O3 missing only the formal agenda and the frequency.
I do follow the "One on Ones for the DIRECT" cast recommendations and try to get the most out of the hour each month. As I'm sure all MT adherents are already thinking, this isn't the most effective way to conduct them. Mark has said that for Managers with over 15 directs, doing every other week O3s is recommended. I have no intention of suggesting that my Manager change all his O3s to every 2-weeks, yet is it OK for me to ask to have mine more frequently? 
This issue really came into focus for me when my last O3 was missed due to Production system issues that precluded any meetings from taking place. Once the issues were resolved, I attempted to reschedule my O3 and couldn't find a time that worked for my manager's schedule. So now I'm going to have two months between O3s.
So what are everyone's thoughts on my asking to be an exception and have shorter, more frequent O3s? And if it is advisable, what should I focus on or avoid when I ask?
Thanks in advance for the great feedback I know I'll get!

jonno12131's picture

I too have O3's once a month. Difference is my manager is a high I/mid-D and I'm a high C, which makes for an interesting mix!

I would like more frequent one-on-ones, but after listening to more MT podcasts, the message I get from the guys say that we should not try to influence our manager's managerial style or the structure they put in place. My interpretation is that, if you tell your boss you need something more frequently, then you are effectively telling them that they are doing something wrong, or how to do their job (i.e. manage you) and it is not our place to do that.

What they did advise was scheduling professional updates with your manager in addition to one-on-ones. So these can be shorter, more frequent, and are focussed primarily on progress with deliverables rather than the typical one-on-one content. By having these you present your manager with the opportunity to say 'is there anything else you want to talk about'? The idea being that they may naturally evolve into something that more resembles a one-on-one. However you should not try to push them in that way. If ti doesn't happen, just appreciate the added face-time and move along.

Personally I would not push for 'special treatment' in having one-on-ones more frequently than the other DRs. Like you said you are one of twenty and even if you are his top performer you should not expect special treatment. Even if he did say yes it may cause a stir within the other employees, who may think you are either getting preferential treatment, or that you are struggling and need a load of extra help! Either way it's the wrong message to send.

If you do miss a one-on-one I think you have every right to ask for it to be re-scheduled, especially when they are so far apart. And if you can't find a slot in your manager's calendar I think it is ok to tell your boss that you really value the one-on-ones. He then has the option to re-schedule or re-prioritise some other things.

Hope this helps!

cruss's picture
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This is exactly what was causing me to hesitate in asking to begin with. It is good to have someone echo my concerns. It makes me feel less crazy. 
I do end up in his cube for 'updates' regularly, some initiated by him and some by me. And while I'm certainly not a top performer, I do think I have a good relationship with him. It's just my nature (7117) to try to find a more effective process and I'm sure it would benefit both of us ultimately. I would be stealing less of his precious free time between meetings, and I would stop trying to judge every single thing to see if it warrants bringing up to him. He is definitely a listener who prefers face-to-face updates. He will often send an IM or call just to say "Come down to my cubicle."
I'm curious to hear others opinions on this.

Canyon R

Dani Martin's picture
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...for that! :-)

Boss One-on-Ones:


cruss's picture
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I've been using the "professional update" cast for years with bosses that don't have scheduled O3s. This is only the 2nd time I've worked for someone who did any kind of O3 at all. It has been a while since I've listened to that one, so I'll go back and refresh myself to ensure I'm doing it right.

If what you are recommending is that I add professional updates to the existing scheduled O3s, that is in effect what I've been doing. My question really has more to do with asking my boss to change the schedule of my O3s and how I might approach that. The O3s that my boss is currently doing feels very close to a MT O3, except for the schedule part.

Thank you,

Canyon R

cruss's picture
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Now that I've listened to the "professional updates" cast again I can see that the intro discussion about not asking for an O3 is relevant to my question. I'm going to just keep on the way things are now. My boss seems happy with our relationship, and I need to remind myself that I don't always have to make things "Better".

Thanks for the input.

Canyon R