One-on-Ones (O3)


This page is about describing the key principles behind the presumable single most effective leadership tool (that works in both directions!): one on ones (O3).

Generally, one on ones are supposed to help people to live up to their potential. O3s are dedicated time slots between two employees (often with a coach/supervisor). This page is about how we apply and adopt this approach within our context.

Read/Listen about it

How we apply this

Applying O3s can be challenging (a lot of travel, different projects, changing priorities, new staff members, …). Here is how we do it. These best practices are being extended and might get modified over time:

  • Meet weekly and have it scheduled using the calendar (skip the meeting if someone is traveling, move the meeting if needed using the calendar).
  • Meet for about 20 minutes (>=1/3 coachee + <=1/3 coach + ~1/3 together) and use about 10 minutes as buffer time or to immediately work on action items (e.g. sending requested information via mail). The first/initial O3 might take up to 60 minutes.
  • Schedule meetings in the afternoon so deep work can be done on the morning (others schedule all O3s on a single day at the beginning of a week).
  • More than ~ 7 meetings / week are too many and therefore O3s are usually done only between a selected set of people.
  • Meet at any place the coachee likes (own office, coaches office, kitchen, outside, meeting room, video conferencing tool, …).
  • Write down minutes (analog or digital). A complex todo / ticket system is not needed.
  • The process should focus on reducing Muda, Mura, and Muri (e.g. avoid waiting times) and on building a solution-oriented and not a problem-oriented working environment.
  • Every three month review and refine expectations following the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) that have been transparently communicated with the other team members. This holds true for both directions (also the coachee should have expectations towards the coach). Some examples:
    1. Projects -> deliver in time, in quality, in budget
    2. Programming -> extend our own assets
    3. Proposals -> get funding for our strategic goals
    4. Publications -> write papers, blog posts, tweets, …
    5. Pupils -> coach younger co-workers
    6. Presentations -> clear communication of your work
    7. Perspective -> discuss career-steps to take
    8. Proactivity -> foster on intrinsic motivation
    9. Produce -> contribute to the team
    10. Purpose -> fit activities into the whole strategy