Schedule Your Employee One-on-One Without Making Them Nervous

One-on-one meetings with your employees are important management tasks. One-on-ones are a time to measure the employee’s performance and goals, and to give feedback on strengths and areas that need improvement. Handled well, they can also give you important information on employee perceptions of the company.

Many employees, however, become very nervous at the prospect of a one-on-one! The reasons vary. Some people are simply fearful of bosses, regardless of their performance. Others worry they will be given negative feedback. Some employees may get nervous because they don’t know you very well, or they aren’t sure what a one-on-one is.

You need to make sure employees aren’t anxious about one-on-ones. The more anxious they are, the less productive the one-on-ones are likely to be. Here are some strategies to reduce or eliminate nervousness.

Make one-on-ones standard policy

Employees can be anxious about one-on-ones if they feel it’s all about them. They may not see feedback on work as a positive thing, but fear criticism. Or they may feel uncomfortable being scrutinized.

To eliminate the sense that it’s all about them, make them standard policy for everyone, and publicize that fact. Emphasize that one-on-ones come around at regular intervals, whether it’s once a year or on the half-year.

Emphasize the role of one-on-one’s in positive feedback and communication

Employees may feel nervous about these meetings because some see interaction with a boss as being about criticism. Make it clear that one-on-ones aren’t like that! Emphasize their advantages to the employee.

A good one-on-one will include positive feedback as well as a discussion of any room for improvement. It will discuss goals for the employee, such as potential promotions. It leaves space for questions and open communication.

Be accessible to your employees 

One-on-ones may provoke anxiety if your employees don’t see you around much or don’t talk to you in other contexts. As much as possible, be accessible to your employees on an ongoing basis.

Hold periodic team meetings, if that’s feasible. If not, strategize other ways of being accessible. Join them for happy hour or make it clear your door is open if they have issues that need to be addressed.

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