Ive just finished the first 3 weeks of O3s, after finally making the leap just before my new director started. Results so far are positive, but I have some concerns I was hoping some people could help me out with.

I have had a couple of my directs set goals for our discussions which were just outside of their ability to attain. Truthfully, I would have set the same or similar goals if it were my own decision.

My dilemma is this:

We have been extremely busy. I manage a helpdesk and we currently have 3 open requests to hire in addition to somewhat heavier than normal call volume, which I did not foresee. Consequently there has not been time to keep up on their coaching projects in addition to 'normal' work.

Do I give these folks adjusting feedback on missing their own targets due to circumstances beyond their control, give them feedback on setting goals, or none at all?

I am afraid if we continue to let these goals slip that will become the norm and nothing productive will happen, and I don't feel that giving them feedback about something almost entirely out of their control is proper.

drinkcoffee's picture

It's good to stretch your people, but in this case you run the risk of them souring on the whole coaching process (which you don't want). At first, set small goals that are realistically achievable. Get the early wins, and subsequent goals can be more challenging because they have the confidence from meeting the previous goals.

Remember, part of SMART is "Attainable".

To answer your question, I would give them feedback on setting more attainable goals. If you both agree that they can be done, THEN give them feedback if they end up missing their targets.

I don't feel that giving them feedback about something almost entirely out of their control is proper.

I don't necessarily agree with this. It's all about managing priorities.

Hope this helps,

juliahhavener's picture
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And I would add that...situations change. Because YOUR situation and THEIR situation has changed, I would make the next O3 include a revisiting of those goals to bring them into line with your current reality.

Help desks are hard - call drivers change, you don't always get to prepare for it. When my team members are working on coaching pieces, we both have to know that it may go south because there isn't available time for them to take off to work those things...and it's not something I can afford to pay overtime for or they can't do at home. You have to be able to change your goals when necessary - we don't all get them right the first time.

LouFlorence's picture
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I have found the development piece of the O3s to be the toughest, so I know how you're feeling. I have found it helpful to occasionally share with my directs that I am just learning too, so we should work together to get the development goals right. It's easy to be too aggressive (as you have found) and is also easy to work on things that don't seem to make much difference. I work with each direct to find challenging yet attainable goals. And if the goal is not met, no big deal as long as there was progress. We just set another goal to keep marching down the path.

All this being said, it is easy to let this stuff slip in the heat of battle. I'm not yet up to the level of discipline of checking in on the development goals for every direct at every meeting and that's where I think I need to be.


mikehansen's picture

I would focus on the relation ship for another month or 2 before diving into the coaching model.

O3s are fundamentally about the relationship building. After three weeks, you are not there yet. Also, make sure you are giving a ton of affirming feedback. Set a goal for 2 a week per employee to start. After several weeks of building the relationships and the affirmation, you will have a solid foundation for coaching.

Don’t be in a rush to fix everything. What matters in how effective your team is in 12 months, not 3 weeks.

Hope that helps,

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

What's wrong with saying what you said in your original post?
[quote]I am afraid if we continue to let these goals slip that will become the norm and nothing productive will happen[/quote]
Feedback doesn't mean something is "wrong." It's just feedback.

Give them the opportunity to figure it out. They just might surprise you. Sure, you can understand why they didn't make their goal, but it would have been nice if they had. A little pressure isn't going to kill them. Don't take away their incentive.

mjpeterson's picture

The feedback I would be giving would be about not identifying early enough when meeting goals will be a problem. This is similar to what I emphasize about other deadlines. The time to discuss and address a problem deadline is as early as possible. Waiting until the deadline/goal has come and gone is not acceptable. We need to identify problems early and then determine how to address them. In this case maybe the answer would have been to adjust the timetable for the goal. However, you can only adjust timetable before the deadline has been reached. Once you miss the deadline, you have missed the deadline and failed to reach the goal.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Sorry this took me so long.

I think you COULD give BOTH types of feedback: positive for the stretch nature of the goal - showing that they want to do more - and negative for not reaching it.

Or, just tell them - no feedback here - hey, we missed it. I could have done better at seeing that this was going to happen...let's see what we can do about this. I want you to get there, and we both know we need to get the work done.

Not all situations call for feedback.