One on One, O3, Do's and Don'ts

Employee Performance Management
Ian Pratt
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O3 Must Do’s

  • Plan your one on ones and communicate the time to your employees in advance, if you use meeting invitations include “ one on one” in the meeting title.
  • Block out time before your O3 session to prepare for the session and to ensure that you are well informed about your employees recent performance
  • Make sure you are prepared and on time for each employee, avoid back to back meetings to ensure you are on time and prepared
  • Remove all distractions (phones; Interruptions)
  • Have the meeting in private
  • Empower your people to prepare for and run their own feedback session with you, let them present their performance summary and short-term development plan
  • Let the employee make their suggestions on how to improve their performance before you offer suggestions
  • Ask permission to make a suggestion (sometimes the answer seems obvious but it is better to empower the employee then ask permission to make suggestions)
  • Empower the employee to complete their actions do not take responsibility for an action that the employee could do
  • Link your conversations to your employee’s balanced scorecard and your objectives
  • Keep records of your conversations including actions that arise from the session
  • Ask for suggestions on how to improve the workplace

O3 Don’ts - Avoid These

  • Make the employee feel rushed in an O3 session … for example “I only have 20 minutes today so we had better get on with it.”
  • Open the meeting with “sorry I have not had time to prepare for this session.”
  • Always meet your commitments to your employees, if you commit to having a feedback session … then have one.
  • If you have to reschedule, try to bring the session forward rather than postponing it.
  • Do not ever apologize, justify or make excuses for addressing an issue. For example: I am sorry I have no choice it is company policy.
  • Don’t wait for a scheduled feedback session to address an emerging performance issue – discuss it immediately, this will ensure your One on One can remain balanced.
  • Give the employee reasons why they have not met objectives (for example: You did not meet target this month but then you have not been well). Your employees are more than capable of providing reasons for under performance, leave it to them.

O3 Praise

Tips for Giving Positive Feedback in O3 Sessions

  • Give appreciative feedback frequently, “good job”, “great work”, “thank you for your contribution.”
  • Give specific praise regularly.
  • Give associative praise in every O3 Session.
  • Thank each of your employees for working for you every few months.
  • You cannot give out too much positive praise.
  • If you think you give enough positive feedback, you’re wrong .. give out far more than you think is necessary.

O3 Negative Feedback

Giving Negative Feedback - in a Positive Way

  • When giving negative feedback, always follow with a discussion on how to improve performance. Negative feedback with no discussion on how to improve will result in a reduction in morale.
  • Always focus on the employee’s behaviour, input or outcome – never focus on the person.
  • If improvement is required, the objective is to build an action plan, move quickly to building the action plan and give the employee confidence that you think they can improve.
  • Great leaders will help the employee get started with their actions and follow the employee up.
  • It is OK to give general feedback “I hear from a few sources that your preparation for meetings could be improved, what do you think maybe driving that?” If the conversation is not effective, then seek examples.
  • Start all feedback with “the expectation is …….. How do you think you are going?”
  • Accept your employee’s reasons for under performance, there is limited value in having a debate. Simply restate the expectations and ask them how they will meet their performance expectations next month.
  • Don’t accuse your employee of not meeting expectations “You did not meet target this month” instead ask our employee “the expectation was to meet target how did you go?”
  • If an employee has a lot of development needs try to work on only one or two at a time.
  • When giving negative feedback always follow with a discussion on how to improve performance. Negative feedback with no discussion on how to improve will result in a reduction in morale.
  • Always focus on the employee’s behaviour, input or outcome – never focus on the person.

Strategy in O3 Sessions

Using O3 Sessions For a Transformational Leader

  • Be Strategic
    • For leaders who want to drive a focus on strategic initiatives, always focus on these initiatives in your employee’s One on Ones. For example if you have a strategic goal to improve customer service then during your employee’s feedback session:
      • Ask for feedback on how the improvements in customer service are going.
      • Give feedback on how the strategic initiatives are going and how this employee is contributing customer service.
      • Ask for customer service improvement suggestions.
      • Empower your People.
  • During a session if your employee
      • Raises an issue affecting staff morale, the first thing you should do is to thank them for raising the issue with you then ask some probing questions.
      • Offers a suggestion for improvement, first thank them for making a suggestion advising them that the organisation needs more innovative people like them, then ask some probing questions.

    Further Reading on O3 Sessions

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