That One-on-One Makes Me Quiver


Oh the glorious one-on-one. You know the kind I’m talking about. Those one-on-ones that make you weak in the knees, feel those butterflies in your stomach, and cause such emotions that you aren’t sure whether to be invigorated or terrified. The ones that make you feel like you’re going to throw-up lunch, so you decide not to eat.

Yes, THOSE one-on-ones. The ones scheduled by your boss to discuss certain things. The dreaded one-on-ones that occur when you aren’t really feeling it, when you know you’re going to dread closing that door and sitting down.

Okay, it really doesn’t have to be that way, but when I was a governmental employee, that’s the way it was. It didn’t matter who scheduled the meeting, it was cause for alarm. One thing that I learned from those one-on-ones was that it was better to not speak, to not be honest, to just sit there and listen.

Of course, I was never that kind of employee. I really THOUGHT they wanted my input. I thought they were asking me because they knew I was intelligent and forward thinking. Boy was I wrong. It put me in the hot seat. I was declared a trouble maker “that forward thinking woman!!!” I felt like I should have sewn a letter on all my blouses.

But that isn’t how privately owned businesses are. There is a HUGE distinction between privately owned and government managed organizations: the desire for innovation.

Because of this desire, to become the top of the food chain, the leader in a specific industry, there is a need for innovation, creativity, and forward thinking. How can a business accomplish this? By giving employees the space to tap into their creativity and be innovative, to get to know employees, all through using a one-on-one.

The dreaded one-on-one

If you didn’t really know what a one-on-one was before reading this, I’m sure you do now. It’s just another name for a meeting between manager and employee. The purpose of these meetings, however, should be clear. It is not to reprimand, complain, or see if the employee will rock the boat, it is very plainly to get feedback, to open communication between manager and employee through feedback.

Feedback, feedback, feedback

This goes both ways. Not only is it beneficial for the employee to receive feedback, but it is essential for the manager to receive feedback. The key is that both individuals have to know how to give feedback and be willing to accept the feedback given, or at the very least discuss it until it is understood.

Get rid of the dread and open up the communication

One-on-ones can be extremely eye opening and enlightening. The key is to make sure that the employee knows that it isn’t going to be a reprimand session, otherwise they will go in defensive. Let them know it will be a constructive meeting. In fact, to help ease the employee’s mind, consider printing up an agenda for the one-on-one, with potential questions you want to ask and indicate that the employee should also think of questions to ask you.

One-on-ones don’t have to be scary, and likely, after the first one, they won’t be. Just remember that the employee might be terrified when you schedule one. Try to ease their anxiety, or don’t and surprise them. Sometimes that’s fun, too.


About Author

Margaret Murrow

Margaret obtained her M.S. in Organizational Psychology and Nonprofit Management in 2014 after spending a decade focused on homeschooling her four children. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Psychology and has earned a certification in stress management coaching. When she is not studying, she spends time working as a freelance writer and a certified stress management and business coach for employers around the world.