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Submitted by SteveAnderson on


I'm a recently promoted manager and hoping for some guidance on who I should perform O3s with.  Some background:

For the past three years, I've been on a multi-company team of consultants under a common contract to provide three types of services to a single customer.  My boss left the contract about three months ago and I've been doing his job in an acting capacity until last week when I was promoted.  I've been waiting for the organizational nod in the form of promotion to roll out the trinity, which brings me to my question: who do I do O3s with?

In addition to being the "internal program manager" for my firm's staff, I'm also the "lead" of one of the three services on the aforementioned contract.  In that role, I serve as the #2 to the prime contractor's program manager and I direct operations for:

  • Six employees of my firm who organizationally report to me. (Firm B)
  • Two employees of another firm who organizationally report to someone not operationally involved in the contract. (Firm C)
  • One employee of the prime contractor who organizationally reports to the prime contractor's program manager. (Firm A)
  • One employee from another contract (and a fourth firm) who's been detailed to provide us with technical expertise. (Firm D)

I've attached an org chart to try to simplify this.

To compound matters, I manage them remotely.  Four are at a headquarters location with the prime contractor's program manager (two of them are my directs) and another six also work remotely across four time zones (four of them are my directs).

My six will get O3s for sure but what about the others?  I'm inclined to start them with the two from Firm C but less sure about the detailee from Firm D and very wary about the person from Firm A (the prime contractor) since she reports around me organizationally.  At the same time, I'm wary to leave anyone out since part of my role as operations lead is to coach and mentor everyone under me on the contract, regardless of their firm.

What are your thoughts?


mattpalmer's picture

The first group of people you should do O3s with are the people who, if they screw up, you will get a kick in the pants because they screwed up.  If you're not sure who that might be, you'll probably want to get clarification.  If you're in an organisation that does periodic reviews, this should (hopefully) correlate to the set of people who you write the reviews for.  In broad terms, this set of people are what I would typically define as your direct reports.  They're who MT's standard one-on-one agenda and guidance points towards (in my opinion)

Beyond that group of people, there are a second group of people that I like to have "catchups"[1] with.  This set of people includes anyone whom I rely on to get my job done, or who relies on me to get their job done.  In your case, I'd say that anyone whose work product impacts on yours would be worth talking to weekly.  Call it a weekly meeting to "keep the lines of communication open" if anyone doesn't like the idea of you "having one-on-ones" with people from another organisation.  Nobody sane can object to improving communication between organisations, especially when you're all remote.  In your situation, with so many firms whizzing around and nobody in the same room, I'd be spending most of every day with a phone headset glued to my ear.

By the way, I'll certainly acknowledge that you can go a bit crazy with the list of "people who you rely on to get your job done", and end up including everyone in the mail room and IT department.  That's not a bad thing, though -- even if you can't get a full 30 minutes with someone, a brief, monthly, 10 minute "hey, what's going on, anyone from my part of the world been pissing in your soup lately?" with the lead of a department (and even the people on the ground) can build the relationship and give you advance warning of stuff coming down the line

[1] In case you're wondering, I define a "catchup" as a meeting with the same purpose and agenda as a one-on-one, but without the manager-to-direct overtones that calling it a "one-on-one" has in my organisation.

stevesim's picture

 Obviously O3s apply for your directs.  Based on your post I'm not really clear on the role of the staff who aren't your directs but I'd suggest listening to the following podcasts to see if either of the scenarios they cover apply to your situation;

Project Manager One on Ones - Part 1 & Part 2
Contract Employee One On Ones - Part 1 & Part 2

Steve Simmons

SteveAnderson's picture
Training Badge

I did listen to the contract employee O3 cast this morning and that definitely makes things clearer (well, as far as the mud of our org chart can get clearer, that is).  The way I'm going to approach it is by rolling out the process for my directs (those whom I get a kick in the pants for, as Matt put it) as O3s by name and with everyone else as a "weekly update" which will really just be a contract employee O3.  I am actually responsible for some mentoring and development of some of those in the latter group but I think much of that will be self-contained in the form of developmental tasking.

And, to Matt's point about having the headset constantly in my ear, I've been told I burn about 6,000 minutes a month on average.  It'll be interesting to see if that number goes down once I start O3s since a huge amount of that is ad hoc calls with my directs.


tateo78's picture

Hi  guys,

I read things over and I'm not sure if anyone has covered this, my question is: should I have O3 with my assistant?  Her task is to assist in routine, work that does not require decision making.  




mattpalmer's picture

I can't think of anyone I'd need to have a closer relationship with than my assistant.  The more you can predict each others' actions and thought processes, the more effective you can both be.

Mjoyce's picture

 I'm no expert, and I have never had an assistant as such, but I have highly dependable team members who I trust and delegate to.

I tend to view their O3s as more important and I tend to use more time.  They are who you need to extend trust to more often, and by not making time for them, you can make them feel left out.  

I twas once told, 'I don;t need to meet with you because you have everything under control, and don't bring me problems' - my feeling were hurt.