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Over the past year, I've been learning about the MT management style, including listening to The Effective Manager audiobook and various MT podcasts. I supervise a team of field techs and have implemented weekly O3s, which have been well-received by everyone except one direct report.

This direct report is late-career and prefers to be assigned familiar tasks without interference. He doesn't see the value in O3s, possibly because I've previously used them to address performance issues. Additionally, discussions about career growth don't appeal to him, as he is likely within five years of retirement.

He has requested a substantial pay raise ($10-20k) without significant changes in responsibilities, citing that other installers in his previous trade earn more. However, he only uses those trade skills about 30% of the time, and much of that is already compensated at higher prevailing wage rates. He also mentioned a startup competitor offering him more based on his rare credentials, though the more junior members of my team surpass his technical skills.

While he is reliable, liked by customers, and delivers quality work on time, his entitled attitude contrasts with the growth mindset of other team members. I find it difficult to justify a raise. Additionally, he is my highest maintenance employee due to frustrations with corporate processes and pay. If I secure a raise for him, I fear we’ll face the same discontent in 12-18 months, as he has deeper-rooted dissatisfactions with the job and struggles with the corporate environment after working for small businesses for decades.

I'm considering adjusting my approach to O3s for him. Instead of weekly meetings, working alongside him in the field for a couple of hours each week might improve his morale more than formal O3s. I want to avoid a one-size-fits-all management style and seek your advice on how to manage this situation.

LEmerson's picture

I really like the idea of working alongside him to deal with the issue of avoiding O3s. Especially with an employee like that my initial reaction is to protect the systems from any negative influences he might present. But O3s are all about maintaining close communications between the manager the directs. I wouldn't even look at it as adjusting your O3s. It's just making a creative accomodation to make this work better for all. Just having the O3s is more important than the specific content. If he is more comfortable in that situation great. I might cut back that two hours to 30 minutes so you're not changing the policy or purpose. It seems this person demands to be coddled and spending two hours a week instead of a half hour is not going to satisfy him other than knowing he disrupted things.

As I said I admire your solution because it's creative and I don't think it would disrupt anything, That said, the questions you're asking are kind of like "How do I get the tail to stop wagging the dog?" He prefers, doesn't see the value, discussions don't appeal to him, unless it's about you paying him more money, and struggles with working in a corporate environment. Making adjustments and the need for constant coddling are two different things. There is a rule that 80% of your time will be spent on managing 20% of your directs which is fine, but if my problem direct came to me and threatened me with a startup competitor offering more that would probably flip my switch. If they made it that clear they didn't like working there I'd want them gone. If it was me I'd at least give them a take-it-or-leave it option, but if you do that make sure you have backup at the executive level.

betterthanyesterday's picture

Thank you for your response. It's interesting how I can work alongside him in the field and get along well. I can take him to lunch and have a great chat. But when I put a name on the meeting and sit down across from him, he gets nervous.

Moving forward, I have several action items to manage him:

  • Proactively show appreciation, such as recognition in front of other team members. This is free, and he notices who is getting the attention. 
  • Attach financial rewards to exceptional actions. Rather than giving him a big one-time bump right away (which would require cutting through executive red tape), give him smaller more frequent financial rewards attached to exceptional performance. 
  • As he calls/texts/emails me about issues during the week, if the issue is non-trivial and non-urgent, then request that we address it during his O3 to give him more interest in attending. This will also allow me to process his requests more efficiently by batching them. 
  • Make it clear that I will keep 30 minutes a week formally blocked out for him even if he doesn't feel the need to attend. If I need him to attend, I will let him know. 
  • Since I anticipate he will opt-out of O3s frequently due to the previous action item, I can make an effort to reach out to him in the field. 
  • Once he builds up a longer track record of good performance, look at doing a special pay adjustment. 

While I want to be fair and impartial to each person on the team, I also don't want to force them all into the same box and be inflexible. I'm learning that I need to work with different people in different ways in order to be effective. 

If you have any feedback on these ideas, I would be happy to hear it.

LEmerson's picture

To be honest I think the tail is wagging the dog if you let him thumb his nose at O3s. I would worry about what that would do to the chemistry. He's not going to be praising O3s to other employees. That seemed to be the main issue. I was thinking more along the lines of helping him comply, but you already know what the likely outcome is if you make it optional, that he will opt out. In my opinion it would be a big mistake to give this person special treatement of optional O3s without scrapping them altogether, making them optional then everybody will opt out. Earlier I mentioned protecting the systems from negative influences. Unless you're willing to make the same accomodations and goodies for all your employees I can't imagine his special treatment doing anything but creating resentment among among the other employees.

j3snyder's picture
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Sounds to me like you are being more than accommodating I. Your approach to the problem. Are you ready to address issues when other employees reach out to you, your boss, or he because you are treating him differently? Him avoiding O3s may point to an overall trust issue, and accommodating him won't change that necessarily. But it might make your relationships with other directs more strained.

wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge

Hi!  Have you listened to this podcast?

One On Ones Are Business Meetings | Manager Tools
https://www.manager-tools.com/2010/08/one-ones-are-business-meetings
 

There's also this one:

Resistant Directs In One on Ones - Chapter 1 - (Hall Of Fame Guidance) | Manager Tools
https://www.manager-tools.com/2010/10/resistant-directs-one-ones-chapter...

As others have suggested, making an exception for one direct is not a good idea.  You don't "opt out" of meetings with your manager, he should not expect to be able to "opt out" of meetings with you.

Wendii