Biggest Mistake Manager’s Make During 1v1s with Millennials

Sweaty palms and restless nerves.

That would probably be a better name for one on one meetings. Quite often, these meetings are known to create anxiety and be a rebuking ground for a lot of managerial-direct report relationships. However, all across the management field, managers are told that one on ones should be used to for career development and building a stronger relationship with their direct-report. By building this kind of relationship, managers are able to take a pulse on employee engagement to anticipate backfill, harness employee ideas to benefit corporate strategy and increase employee retention.

Is it possible for employees to open up with managers when there is an atrocious amount of anxiety associated with these meetings?

No way, José.

So how can managers shift one on one from anxiety driven meetings to career and relationship building experiences?

This is where the biggest managerial mistake manifests its ugly head- managers use one on ones to pile on negative feedback. If managers are able make a small shift, they can harness the power of one on one meetings.

Have you ever had an argument with a significant other and all of sudden the dam breaks and all of these issues from month before suddenly pop up? In those cases, wouldn’t you have wished that they would have told you in the moment?

This store-and-dump is the same approach that managers use in workplace relationships. They store up all of their reprimands and praising and dump them all in one on one meetings by letting people know in the moment can alleviate a lot of future headache. But why is this such a effective approach and how does it influence the relationship in the long term? Turns out people tend to associate events and emotions with one another. If they consistently feel negative emotions when they go to a particular meeting, they associate the emotion with the event. Inevitably the manager becomes associated with negative emotions and employees consequently clam up during those meetings.

So what is the solution? Answer: Giving negative in the moment versus leaving it for the one on one meeting.

By separating negative feedback from one on ones, employees would disassociate one on ones from a critiquing fiesta and allow direct reports to see it more as an opportunity to open up with their managers. Just like any relationship, if you address conflict in the moment, “couples can cohesively live with one another without being at each other’s throats” according to psychologist Jordan Peterson PhD.

Separate reprimands from one on one meetings and you will be able to unlock the power behind managerial direct-report relationships. You will be able to spot employees who are leaving before they leave, leverage key employee ideas and increase employee engagement. All it takes is a bit of courage to avoid sweaty palms and alleviate nervousness.


Jeff Butler

Jeff Butler Internationally respected speaker and consultant, Jeff Butler helps bridge generational gaps between Millennials and companies looking for their talent and patronage. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennials as employees and customers. Within just the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn.


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