In one of my comments on Alex W. Barszczewski's (Trener, Coach, Life-Mentor) blog I presented the idea of weekly One-On-Ones.

"Weekly One-On-Ones are counterproductive" - answered Polish management coach in his latest post . Here are his arguments:

- 10 person team cannot afford to sacrifice 20 hours monthly plus 20 hours for manager's preparation in current business environment requiring very high efficiency;

- time spent on One-On-Ones cannot be spent with clients so - in case of a consulting firm - real profits are decreased;

- One-On-Ones with employees working somewhere in the world are difficult to arrange;

- One-On-Ones are not necessary in case of good teams.

Why not necessary? Because:

- open door policy and management by walking around are more flexible and efficient;

- Employee development and career planing can be done during meetings every six months;

- self-managing teams don't need intensive manager's engagement;

- top performers are one-person businesses in a company so they don't need a real-time supervision.

Can you comment on this critique of the whole weekly One-On-Ones methodology?



simonspeichert's picture

The time spent on one-on-ones is minimal in comparison to the unscheduled time directs will spend trying to communicate with managers who don't do one-on-ones. I've seen this in practice on both sides of the fence. O3s are a scheduled communication bucket that can be extremely efficient if both participants prepare well for them.

Every six months is not an effective schedule for employee development and career planning. These are important, and to do them just twice a year when a manager could literally spend 5 minutes a week coaching a direct on their career development lessens the chance of the direct ever achieving their goals.

As far as not supervising your top performers, I wish I had memorized what Mark has said about the returns to be had from coaching top performers over bottom performers.

These are baffling comments. Personally, I wonder exactly what a manager who declines to do O3s is doing with their time that they would judge it to be more effective than engaging in scheduled communication with their directs.

mikehansen's picture

To me his arguments paint a very different role for managers than what is taught here.  Mainly he does not advocate building on relationships and instead must believe it is all about task management or being hands off for the "top performers" Some specifics:

re: It is inefficient for large teams/consultants:

  • I have done them with as many as 13 directs and I can ensure you I spent less time with my directs than when it was unscheduled.  It is only 6.5 hours and the rest of the time is mine.  Without them you end up spending a lot more with a few directs (easily 10+ hrs) and no time with many directs. 
  • Clearly he thinks managers should be spending the majority of their time with things that are not related to managing their teams.  I have found that O3s allow for this better than minimal interaction or "managing by wandering around".  When your team can do more, you can take on more and the business wins.  In the hands off mode, your teams will never be able to grow at the rate of a good O3 manager.

Re: MBWA, or open doors make them moot

  • Walking around does not equate to really understanding who your directs are, what they do well, and how they want to grow.  It is a fine practice, but not in place of O3s.  It is better than hiding in your office all day, but that bar is pretty low.
  • Open door policies are not relevant to the discussion.  If anyone thinks having an open door will ensure that any important issue from their team will hit their radar, they are sorely mistaken.

re: Good people do not need to be managed

  • Good people do not need to be micro-managed.  They all are eager for feedback, coaching, and having a continual increasing impact on the organization.  Give me a top performer and give one to the MBWA guy and my performer will significantly out perform the other (and be a lot happier!)
  • I believe Mark's comments were about getting more out of top vs. bottom performers.  For instance, a 20% gain from a top performer is a lot more impactful than 20% more from a bottom one (or something like that).

It is always interesting to see other views out there, even if I disagree.  It is real easy to come up with reasons why O3s are not needed, a waste of time, etc.  That is, it is easy until you actually do them! 

I do not think there is anyone who has posted here that has done O3s and later decided not to bother because they were ineffective and not needed.  What greater argument can there be than that?



mtietel's picture
Training Badge

MBWA won't work for remote teams or, as heard in another podcast recently, "It's a long walk to Bangalore."  The same podcast also mentioned a statistic (sorry, no citation was given) that 70% of managers have at least 1 remote team member.

jhack's picture

1.  Has this "coach" ever actually managed a team?

2.  My experience as a manager is quite clear:  one on ones work.  Short reason: leverage.   You can't get the next level of performance out of everyone (including yourself) by only doing what you're already doing.  That won't scale.  One on ones are the vehicle for this performance transformation (coaching and delegation, etc) 

John Hack

ken_wills's picture


The column is not necessarily a critique of "One on one's" as defined by Manager Tools.  So it seems like a bit of an exercise to try to line up what HE says versus what THEY say...

My advice: The Manager Tools approach to O3's is extremely well thought out, carefully explained, and rooted in the real world.  This is one of the half dozen areas where I believe that Mike and Mark show true galaxy-class expertise.  And so contradictory advice from others ought to be treated skeptically.

That said, almost every opposing point of view, if well-reasoned, has SOMETHING in it that's worth considering (even if only to test and validate what you were thinking in the first place!).

Thanks for bringing this writer's views into the forums.


430jan's picture

Bottom line for me: Manager Tools techniques come from love. That is the difference between walking around, task management, etc. to me. There are plenty of places for management advice. This is the first place I ever heard it voiced with love at the core. Goofy as it seems in a work environment, that is the difference between manipulating behavior to try to effect results and creating a relationship where you know your people, maximize their strengths and coach their weaknesses.

Lots of ideas out there. This is the way I want to manage people. Stellar results from a loving relationship. I can live with that.