I'm managing front line employees (about two months now) and a couple of them have went to my manager to ask if "this one on one thing was going to continue."  This is now the second time they have went directly to my manager to ask.  My manager hasn't told me which employees went to her.    

While I wasn't told I have to do less fequent one on ones, it was made clear that she feels other managers she has had have lost "buy in" from the team because they didn't "listen" to what they had to say.  There was also mention at this level of management, she feels you have to do what they want.  It was also brought up that the directs didn't see the value in the one on ones and that there is better things they could be doing with their 30 minutes.

The job the directs are currently doing can be done while they sit at their desk and keep to themselves and do their job (not that they are hitting all their goals/metrics), and because of the nature of the job, I get the impression they think there is nothing to discuss because they are just going to show up everyday and get their work done and that is what they are paid to do.

Around the same time my boss gave me the information the first time, I was also starting to cut some of my one on ones short of 30 minutes because some of my directs were (and still are not) not coming prepared with anything to talk about during their 10 minutes and I also didn't have 30 minutes to talk about.

With my boss bringing this up for the second time, I am trying to figure out what to do.  She had the suggestion to talk to them and see what frequency they want... not exactly what I am want to do based on everything I have listened to on this site.  I guess the funny thing which I brought up to my boss is that since she was managing them, she has a great relationship with them and they go to her, how am I going to build a relationship?  The answer was, do the thing they want, to show them you will listen.  This will build a relationship. 

Obviously, I would like to keep 30 minute one on ones, once a week.  I am unsure how to show my boss that I care what she says and what my directs feel (I do care about both of these) and still make sure one on ones stay the same.  Side note, almost none of them are hitting their required goals/metrics.  I have had basic discussions what the goals were and where they were at, but haven't used negative feedback yet.  I have used encouragement when they have gotten closer to a goal, but I don't know how well that is working.     

I'm going to relisten to all the one on one podcasts, but was curious if anyone had anything to say.  Sorry for the way to long post and Thanks!


timrutter's picture


You're doing the right and effective thing, try to keep at it. I've been in a very similar situation a couple of times before, some of the tings I learned were:

If your boss is not fully supporting you publicly to your team, it will fail. They'll just keep going to her and coming out feeling justified. I recommend you try and get her full support and that she voices it when your team try to skip you.

Two months is a drop in the ocean in relationship terms, so you will still be in the resistance phase. Keep going!

As an aside, what happened to your predesessor to open the opportunity up for you?

Hope this helps some


BeManager's picture


Thanks for the response.  I agree with you and it was something that was going through my mind also.  To answer your question.  It was a lateral move to a role that the predessor was more interested, non management.  From everything I know, there were not any negative reasons associated with the move and everyone liked the predessor.  "one on ones" were done monthly...  =)



BJMacom's picture

I have a similar situation.  Except, my department is the "Admin" department (back office that does accounting, answers phones, and all the basics to free up our sales staff and billable staff.) Half of my staff feel that these meetings are a "waste of time" and "since nothing is going to change, what's the point"  (their words not mine.)  I've tried to explain that it's meant to foster more frequent communicaiton and to identify and correct issues faster, but I'm struggling myself though I would never admit it to them.  Since there isn't necessarily any ongoing projects or out of the ordinary work that I can go over with them, our meetings end up being "How are you doing? Is there anything new? Are there any problems? Is anything bothering you?"  No... No... No... No... meeting over.  I do feel there are some things that are NOT being said, but I can't force them to speak up.  And I know that quite a bit of that is related to their dislike for one another, dislike for certain policies/procedures or how they are applied, and for other things that we all know I cannot correct or even begin to start to change.  I definately don't want to get overwhelmed or mired in the negativity associated with problems, especially when i can't do anything to change them, but should we still be discussing these things?  Or should I leave it up to them to bring it to me when they can't contain it anymore (like I'm doing now) and need to vent?  Is there something I can do to make our meetings more productive?  Or perhaps, should I have them less often that weekly in a department like ours?

jazzlover's picture

As Mike and Mark say, "There's a 'cast for that." ie, overcoming the direct that doesn't come to O3s with anything to say. Wendii and Mark role play it as they've done in countless conferences. As supervisor you ask at least 3 times if the direct is sure they don't have any questions, concerns, or updates they'd like to provide. If they say no, qualifying if first by saying something like, "I want you to be sure that you know that these meetings are for you. But if you don't have anything today, ..." and you can ask about a given project they're working on, or an interaction you've observed of their behaviour, or a process change that's rolling out. "How do you feel about that?" "What happened there?" "Are we on track to accomplish x?" If they don't provide details, probe further -- "Oh, so you're waiting for word from Bob. How have you contacted him? Oh, you re-sent your email? Well, you know I've found that Bob is more of a phone guy. I wonder if it would make sense to try giving him a call?" and so on.

If you search the podcasts, I'm sure the podcast I heard will turn up. I'll echo others here and say keep at it. I have a report who still doesn't like them, but she has begun to come with at least 1 or 2 items to discuss after doing them after about 7 months. Sometimes we just talk about her personal life, and that's a totally legit use of them occasionally.

WritePaper's picture

This is very useful information for me.