I am a retail operations manager and have 2 sales managers and 22 sales associates as directs.  After listening to podcasts for several years,  I have finally decided to roll out one on ones with my 22 sales associates.  They actually begin this Monday.  

I have had many complaints already that I am pulling them off of the sales floor, hence costing them money.  I've been asked if it is company policy, and if they are mandatory.  During a typical day, they are standing around for 8-9 hours, and are presented with sales opportunities several times a day while waiting in line to take their turn.  When I rolled out the available one on one meeting times, I  offered multiple days/times before the store opens to be accommodating, yet only had several sign up for those opportunities.

I gave a deadline of last Saturday to sign up for a time slot.  Half of them did not and I had to go to each of them individually and work out a time to meet, while addressing their complaints/concerns. 

Because I have many existing duties I am responsible for, I have chosen to do these bi-weekly and split the 22 associates into 11 associates per week (bi-weekly).  I don't think it's too much to ask to spend an hour with each associate a month to learn more about them.    

One of my sales managers (directs), although indicating he supports me, has indicated that what I am doing is like asking an hourly employee to clock out and visit with me for free.

I am nervous, frustrated, and slightly concerned that this will blow up in my face.  I also don't want to roll this out and it end several weeks later due to frustration.

I am really making the attempt to be a better manager and do have a few supporters.

I don't want this to feel like a punishment to them, yet I am thinking some of them view this as such.

Any advice that be can given to make me feel like I am going about it the right way would be most helpful.

By the way, my first one on one is with one of those against this process.



tlhausmann's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge a certain degree of trepidation is normal. Be assured, not everyone in your department will "buy into" O3s at the same time.  Some, may take months before they too see the value of the O3 meetings.  Stick with it and do not give up.

One former direct, from whom I received push back, now runs his own IT department.

Yes, he does O3s with his new team.

GlennR's picture

  • This is normal. Treat it as any other change management issue. Do not take it personally. Be fluent at explaining the benefits to the company, their customers, and most especially to them. You have to be able to answer the WIIFM question. (What's in it for me?)
  • Is this mandated by the company? No. But innovation starts with one person in one department or territory. These are trying times. This team is going to try something new, and if it works, it will spread.
  • Work expands to fit the time available. I refuse to believe they're "selling" every minute of every day. I have experience in outside sales. There is downtime. Once they get used to the schedule, they'll realize it's not impacting their sales.
  • The counterpoint about them working for free due to an 03 is bull.
  • Tlhausmann is right. At first, you'll have resistance, then one person will see the value, then several more. It will take awhile for more people to come on board. There will always be a few laggards. I've said it before, life is ruled by the Bell curve. If you can identify the one person for whom they have the most respect, and then show him or her the value, others will follow sooner.
  • In a group this large, there may actually be organized resistance against you. Don't waver.  Expect it. Prepare for it. You see the forest; they see the trees.

Hang in there.

donm's picture
Training Badge

You're the manager. To your directs, you are the company. If you mandate, it IS mandated by "the company." Don't give up your authority. Just because you weren't told to do it, does not mean it is not company-directed to others. The company pays you to do the job better. You do the job better by getting your directs to do their jobs better. Will this help them do the job better? If yes, you're right. If no, then you should not be doing it, and should do something else "company directed."

bbryce702's picture

 Thanks for all the advice.  I conducted not 1, but 4 O3's today!

Ironically enough, the first one (which I was concerned would be one of the toughest due to much prior resistance) came in and explained that he had some time over the weekend to think about it.  He actually arrived early and asked if we could conduct it earlier.  I held firm to our scheduled meeting due to my daily responsibilities.  He began by indicating that this was probably a good thing and continued to open up.  I was taken back as I was expecting silence.  Even though most of it could be perceived as complaining, I learned some things about him that I wouldn't have probably found out in normal socializing.  It's my understanding that he later visited with my General Manager to let him know that he thought what I was doing was a good thing and also indicated that he didn't think the meetings needed to be held so often (bi-weekly).

The other 3 went well also.  The one thing I found hard to do, is to just listen and not respond/react.   I think I did a good job of keeping quiet. 

I'll admit these first 4 weren't exactly by the book, but I did let them do most of the talking while I took notes and listened.

I did however get a call from my boss indicating that one of my female directs went to him and asked why she had to meet with me for a 03. We've worked together for almost 12 years (3-4 years on the sales floor as equals and 8 as her manager).  She also had indicated that she thought that there was some rule that indicated a man and woman can't be in an office alone together.  It's my understanding that another female direct (I was directly involved in hiring her) also asked one of my male sales manager to sit in with us.  Both are scheduled at a later date.  I am visiting  with my 3rd female associate tomorrow morning who has not presented to anyone, including me, any sort of need for a male figure to sit in with our 03.  After learning of these 2 female associate's issues with me, I became a little bit upset.  I could understand coming in and not talking at all, but going to other managers to discuss this frustrated me.  Do I have another manager sit it and keep quiet?  There is no correlation in their ages (1=60+ and the other is late 20's, early 30's).  I am 38, happily married with children, and find no personal interest in either of them whatsoever.

Thanks again for your feedback.  I've got another 3-4 O3s tomorrow.




GlennR's picture

...that much of what we worry about never happens.

Well done!

As for the woman who wants to know if there's a rule about gender, all I can say is that my directs are of the opposite gender and we have a closed door meeting every time.

I've never heard of a law that requires that, so unless it's your corporate policy you are in the clear. I think she's mistaking the policy many doctors' offices have about having a nurse present when the doctor is male and the patient is female.

However, there may be a good reason for her discomfort. Perhaps the first few meetings with her can be held with the door open, or if there is a place on your sales floor where you can be seen but not interrupted by others.

Your directs going around you to other managers can be overcome in time as they learn to trust you more via the 03's. Once you're at the right place, you can let them know that they should come to you and they should feel comfortable doing so.

Dale Carnegie said, "90% of the management problems in this world are caused by miscommunication." Implementing 03's will greatly reduce the risk of those problems cropping up. Your team should become more agile and if you stick with it, I'll bet your turnover rate drops compared to those teams who don't do 03's.

tlhausmann's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

...MT counsels that the O3 meetings can be "in the open" but not "public."

Is there a company coffee shop or meeting area sufficiently large to hold a private conversation (where your voices will not carry to the next table)?

GlennR's picture

Tlhausmann raises a good point. I used to supervise staff scattered across much of Texas. I also worked with a peer who lived 200 miles from me. I spent a lot of time looking for places where I could have a meeting with another person, either for a one-on-one, a performance review, or in the case of my peer, brainstorming. Here are my experiences

  • If you think your conversation at a coffee shop is confidential, think again. The national chains pack the tables and chairs in, which means the person behind you can hear everything you say. I know, because I'm frequently the person behind you. Smaller local coffee shops are too quiet. It's like talking in a library. In either example, if one of you raises your voice, you're toast.
  • In larger cities, the lobby of a large upscale hotel usually has numerous conversation pits where you can have a comfortable private conversation.
  • Restaurants can work well during off-peak hours. My co-worker and I met in a city halfway between us. We'd spend the entire day sitting at a table in a restaurant. We told the waitress or the manager what we were doing, we made sure to order meals and drinks, and we left a nice tip when done. During lunch we suspended lunch and socialized until the lunch crowd left.
  • In smaller towns where everyone knows everyone and gossip rules, you need to be sensitive to where you meet a direct who is of the opposite gender. This isn't necessarily critical at lunch, but is more of a problem during the evening. The person who lives in that community should introduce the other "out of towner" so that people understand that it's a business meeting. Keep a notebook or laptop open on the table until the food is served. (Hey, sounds trivial, but it's not.)

In my earlier comment, I suggested meeting out in the store if the direct was leery of meeting alone in an office. I had in mind a big box store where two associates could have a conversation that wouldn't be overheard. The downside to that is that potential customers may interrupt you or resent it if you appear to be ignoring them.