Any advice on a direct not really terribly interested in O3s? It's not a problem now[1], but one of my new directs was about to be put on Step 2 when I thought O3s and coaching would be the least I could do. He really resisted the idea, continually rescheduled and made a point to be as incommunicative as possible. I understand there are some people you just can't reach, and I suppose this gentleman is one, but I wondered if you guys had any ideas about getting who aren't in love with the idea of cozying up to a new manager for 30 minutes a week to give it a shot?

So, fellow MT'ers: how do you build up the trust and show that you're not just the new guy out to take people's jobs away?

[1] The recalcitrant direct handed me his notice today, so he's a lost cause, but surely this has been encountered elsewhere, so I thought the topic might be worth addressing.

Brent's picture

Thanks for the post! You've raised an interesting question.

The simplest answer is: You might want to consider mentioning their behavior in feedback.

However. In my opinion, while we can encourage people to change their behavior, we do have to accept that some people just won't change past a certain point.

I had someone interview for my animation company. She was fully qualified, and I offerred her a position. She turned it down, because our work environment was "too unconventional." I could have argued this with her, and shown her the benefits of our work environment. But, ultimately, it was her choice, and I had to let her make that choice.

In my opinion, if you're doing everything you can to engage other people in the One-on-One process and helping them out, and they're just constantly resisting...then that's their choice.

I may be wrong, though, and I look forward to other peoples' responses.

MikeK's picture

I think Brent is right in some ways but at the same time, this gives you something to provide a TON of feedback on and coach that person on. I find my O3s are actually a lot more useful with my most difficult directs because it is easier for me to find things to coach them on and then provide progress and feedback on each week as well. My smoothly running directs that are never having any real problems and are consistantly doing well, the O3s are tougher to fill up.

Not sure that helps, but I think you can keep at it and try to get them to be more comfortable with things. One thing I tried that worked GREAT which was wierd at first was this:

Ask your direct to be prepared for the next week's O3 to completely drive the first 10 minutes with whatever they want. You will answer questions and talk about anything they want, but it is up to them to come with some ideas to cover. In mine, they either jumped into some work topics (fine with me) or something like a hobby or sport or experience they had sometime. I just let them talk and talk and we discussed some. Normally, I had been driving all the questions and discussion and it felt more like an interview. Those directs are starting to be a lot more comfortable with me now and I ask them to do this ever few weeks for their 10 minutes.

Brent's picture

Excellent suggestions, Mike K! Absolutely agreed. I think that's a great solution: Invite the employee to talk for ten minutes. Even phrase it as an experiment!

Another way of approaching it: My boss wasn't aware of One-on-Ones, so I suggested we sit down for a half-hour status meeting every week. It's turning into a One-on-One (slowly). You can approach it that way: Ask the employee to talk about their work for ten minutes.

Mark's picture
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I didn't post initially because your recalcitrant direct solved your problem. But I came across it again tonight and thought I'd add a point of view for you to consider.

Here it is: Don't bother.

I'm reminded here that George Will once wrote a column offering a President advice on his upcoming state of the union address. Will said, "Don't go." He based this on the fact that the constitution doesn't require an annual speech, but rather a report, which could be a brief written document.

I mean to say that not everything needs persuading. Just because there's an idea that we need to communicate more (I'll take full responsibility for spreading that rumor), and it's better to get people excited than to demand things DOESN'T mean that we should do so in ALL cases.

Not everything is up for debate. Salary, job location, building color come to mind.

I'm also reminded of Einstein's quote, "everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." I intend this in the spirit of irreducibility - that is, there are some things that one does not need to break down, some things that one needn't defend other than in stultified academia (where we are not).

One needn't argue with someone about why work starts at 8 am, for instance. Someone who works for you may want to discuss it, but you needn't do so in the interest of being an approachable manager. You can deny the discussion in the service of efficiency and competing priorities.

One on ones ARE a powerful way to build trust and show people you're not there to take their jobs away. We reach a catch-22 with people if we have to build trust in order to convince them to engage in a method we'll be using to build that trust.

So, don't bother trying to persuade them. Ask them to be there, and explain that this is how you manage. Sure, ask them nicely, and ask them to trust you. But you're not a fast food joint, where every employee always gets everything their way. (And heck, even at those places, in order to GET your food, you do have to GO to THEM, stand in line with others and order off a limited menu).

Be kind as you explain your rationale. Let them disagree. Let them get angry (and write it down to give them feedback). Go back and give those who agreed whole-heartedly and made O3s work some feedback too.

And if they don't engage, give them feedback. If they don't bring you any news the first few weeks, well... okay. But you're going to start asking for stuff and updates.... and they better respond, because that has nothing to do with O3s.

If they figure it out, it won't be because you persuaded them initially. It will be because you stick with it and are an open, professional communicator. If they don't figure it out, 3-6 months of stonewalling ought to get them a ticket to another firm.

That's what I've done, and it has worked well.