I've been doing O3's for a little over a year now (since discovering Manager-Tools!) and they certainly are the single most effective tool I've got. I've noticed great growth on my team since using them.

I've got a direct now that is EXCELLENT. This direct is a fantastic employee, without question my top performer and is practically doing my job. This direct is ready to take over my position. As soon as I move up they are pretty much guaranteed my job.

The problem is that I find that I have very little to say when we meet weekly for our one-on-ones. The direct communicates very well throughout the week and by the time our O3 rolls around there's little to say on either end. With my other directs I always build in some sort of educational component into the O3 but I honestly can't think of a single thing that this particular direct has left to learn about my job that I can teach them.

This happened to me once before with another direct (about a year ago) before that direct moved up into a position as my peer.

My question is this: Has anyone dealt with this before? And are there any thoughts on what you can do in this situation?

I want the O3's to be beneficial for both of us but at this point I am struggling to find a reason to continue them with this particular employee.

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

In a word - Coaching.

Ask him/her what they would like to develop and get the coaching model going. We can all learn something.

Boy Hubris's picture

Well, I've been sort of doing that but I'm really running low on things I think I can teach this particular direct. I really don't think I've ever worked with someone so naturally talented at this stuff.

I guess I can continue to try to offer resources and coach. I have no problem doing this with my other directs but I just don't know what else this particular person has left to develop/learn.

TomW's picture
Training Badge

Maybe you can see if he can teach you anything?

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

Remember what M&M said in the coaching podcast - You don't need to know it to coach it. You're just facilitating.

MattJBeckwith's picture
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I have been in a similar situation and the best advice I can give is to not stop the weekly one on one. For one of my former directs I found that there was little she could bring to me weekly because she actually transacted me so often throughout the week. I asked her to save some of the things for our weekly meeting and she felt relieved and slowly became more productive during the week.

Even if you're running under 30 minutes, don't stop doing them.

asteriskrntt1's picture

What exactly is your role and your direct's role? That might help spur some ideas.

drinkcoffee's picture

I've run across the same thing, also with one of my top performers (weird). Sometimes it helps when we break out of the usual work-related discussions. For example:

How was your weekend?
Any plans for this weekend?
What are you doing for vacation this year? Going anywhere? Do you usually go there? What's good about it? Anything you don't like about it?
How is little Johnny doing in first grade? (Adjust to fit your direct, of course).

I agree with Dave -- don't stop the one-on-ones. More communication is better. What's happening here is a perfect opportunity to take the relationship a little deeper and see what happens.

davefleet's picture

What Will said.

You're not there to teach, just to help them learn.

Boy Hubris's picture

[quote="drinkcoffee"]I've run across the same thing, also with one of my top
How is little Johnny doing in first grade? (Adjust to fit your direct, of course).[/quote]

Maybe I'll just ask that direct question. That will certainly keep things interesting. :)

Thanks, everybody! I think you've given me some good perspective. It's just more difficult when you view someone much more as an equal than as a direct.

I'll try continuing to develop the relationship and see about doing some more coaching.

AManagerTool's picture

Sometimes they have very little to say. Many times they have to be stopped as we are 15 minutes over our time. When it goes slow, there is nothing saying that you NEED to fill the entire 30 min.

When the conversation runs dry because there is nothing left to say and everything is fine, I will end the meeting. I have done this 6 times in the past year. That says something to me.

1. 48 work weeks in a year, 6 direct reports = 288 O3's/year
2. 6/288 = ~2%

Only 2% of my O3's were dismissed early because of the nothing to say issue.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


I apologize that this has taken me so long.

Are you talking about the future? Are you coaching on next level skills? What about asking him to work with you on process change or getting the team to a 20-30% (game changing) improvement in results?

This is an incredible opportunity. If they're good enough to do your job, ask yourself this: if I had 100% of my time, what would I do with it in this role?

WOW - THAT would be exciting!

Again, my regrets.