Hi all,

Looking for advice regarding one of my directs. I sent out the MT O3 email a few weeks ago and today was my first O3 with this direct. The topic they wanted to discuss after I asked how's it going was mainly about their cats. For roughly 20 minutes it was them talking about their cats and moving into a new home. Mainly about their cats.

I tried to be respectful of this persons interests and noted things I could circle back to help build a relationship. Per MT guidance, I shouldn't integrate feedback into O3s for a few weeks. Does anyone have specific guidance on how to curb the conversation from cats to career?

Kevin1's picture

If they want to talk about cats, then you talk about cats.  Don't judge.  The only thing you should do is listen and engage and if you really can't stand it you can remind them their time is up after 10 minutes.


enjoy cats


duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

Agree with Kevin. You're about to learn a lot more about cats.

But you're also learning about what makes this person tick and building a relationship. A 10 minute weekly talk about cats is a pretty fair trade for the relationship and trust you will get.

Its pretty easy to get off the topic. You laid the agenda out for them right? They get a turn and then you get a turn. When their 10 mins is up, find a natural and friendly sounding way to say "we agreed it is now my turn".

delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
Training Badge

I hope you wrote down the cat's name, it's like a child to them and MT tells us the first thing we need to learn is the name of our direct's children.


Also, if this was the first O3, they may have been nervous.  Relax and listen and get to know the direct.  You get your turn after 10 minutes.


pucciot's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

According to M-T's podcasts on this topic, they say it is OK for the first few and then the occasional O3 for your direct to use 20 min.

The format is 10 min for them - 10 min for you - 10 for the future.

If you are just starting O3's you really have not gotten to coaching yet - so those last 10 min are little more fluid.

And because you are the boss you can always interrupt other times of the work week to talk about your stuff.

So - it is really no big deal if your direct takes a little more than his 10 min.
That's his time. His agenda. Whatever he wants to talk about.
That's the O3's rules.

If you respect those rules it will help build trust and relationship with him.
You said he can talk about anything -- respect it.

And enjoy it ! Many directs don't like to talk during their O3 time at all.

** Learn the names of the cats. -- Those cats will die or get sick one day.
On that day you can say, "I'm really sorry to hear about Fluffy. That's the brown and white one right ? I remember when you told me about the time he jumped off the refrigerator into the Jello mold. I'm sure you are going to miss her."

Now, any boss who can say that to a direct, when they are grieving for a pet would have built a great deal of Relationship with their direct.

Good Luck


SuzanneB's picture

Like the others have said... ask about cats.  Most likely after a few weeks their portion of the conversation will change.  But if it never does then it never does. Getting to know about their cats will help you build a relationship with them.

leanne's picture
Licensee Badge

Speaking as a direct with cats... Definitely, like the others said, let them talk about cats.

My cats, this week and last week and the week before, are major stressors for me, because one is sick and the other is...well I think she may be getting sick. Different kind of sick, but still.

If I had an O3 with my manager, I would normally be talking about work because that's what I talk about with them.

But this week and last and next, I would be talking about my cats. Because I would need to express, somehow, that I am stressed by their health issues and that that is affecting my work and I want my boss to be aware of it. If I had just acquired a new cat, I would probably tell my manager that if I had O3s with them. Because it would be important to me, and I'd think they were doing all sorts of cute things.

It really does help. My managers do know that I have sickness issues with my cat and they ask how he's doing when they know I took him to the vet the night before. It makes me feel a little more like they care about *me* - not just about what I can accomplish for them.

cynaus's picture
Training Badge

Definitely listen to their stories about their cats. They mean the world to them - especially if they're talking about them for 20 minutes. I sometimes wish my directs would give me a bit more about themselves personally (then I don't feel like prying). My team still think (after a year) that their O3 is about where they're up to in their workload and to do's. Despite me reminding them they can tell me about their weekend, or family or whatever.... and it's still their 10-15 mins, so if they want to talk about work (or cats), they can :)

lindagc's picture

It was the first O3 wasn't it? You don't know that the cats will be a recurring topic of conversation if you haven't had another meeting.

That you are already talking about giving your direct feedback about the topics that you consider suitable for their section of the one on one, appears that you haven't actually understood the purpose of the one on one. You need to build a relationship with your direct. If your direct is fond of their cats, and is moving house (which is pretty stressful at any time, let alone with pets), then you need to pay attention to what they are saying. 

Just out of curiousity, would you have had the same reaction if your direct spent 20 minutes talking about their children? Or their spouse/partner?

In O3s with my boss, I listen to him talk about his family, his tennis games, his house purchase, what he is working on, issues with his boss, the challenges he is facing etc etc. He seldom asks about my work, let alone my home life, and wouldn't have the slightest idea what I do on a day to day basis. But I remember what he tells me, I follow up things that he has raised (carefully), I know the names of all his kids and what schools they go to, their pets, the DVDs they hire on the weekends.  As a consequence he thinks we have a great working relationship. And to a certain extent we do. I just wish he would enquire a bit more closely about my work ;)