6 Reasons Employees Don’t Talk To Their Managers

6 Reasons Employees Don’t Talk To Their Managers

by Dan Rockwell

Employees talk more and managers talk less in successful one-on-ones.

6 reasons employees don’t talk to their managers:

One-on-one meetings

  1. Cold professional culture. Caring happens outside work.
  2. Talkative managers.
  3. Curiosity about people is rare.
  4. Intimidating environments. What’s in your office that shouts, “Let’s have a conversation?”
  5. Busyness. People value results over relationships. Shift to results through relationships.
  6. Insecure managers. When managers are uncomfortable, everyone around them is uncomfortable. Tip: Gradually shift your mental focus from worrying about yourself to caring about others.

Information can be shared via email. But connection requires conversation.

7 talking points for a successful one-on-one:

#1. Imagine your best day at work. What are you doing? Not doing?

#2. If your best day at work is a 10, how would you rate your typical day? (“5” represents an average day.)

#3. Why did you choose that number?

#4. What could you do to nudge your number toward 10? (Generate a list of three items.)

#5. Which item would you like to try for the next two weeks?

#6. How could I help? (Only ask this question if you are prepared to help or to find someone who can.)

#7. What would you like me to ask you in our next one-on-one?

3 tips:

  1. Send talking points to employees two or three days before your scheduled one-on-one.
  2. Send an email the day before your one-on-one. “I’m looking forward to our conversation tomorrow.”
  3. Prepare for the one-on-one.
    • Reflect on previous conversations.
    • Remove distractions like phone notifications.
    • Remove physical barriers. You might have the conversation in a neutral location or their office.
    • List five qualities/skills you admire about the person before they arrive.


Successful managers seek feedback. Choose one of the following questions at the end of your one-on-one.

  1. How might our next one-on-one be a little better than this one?
  2. If I listened better, what would be true?

Why don’t employees talk to managers?

What talking points would make for successful one-on-ones?



Originally published June 8, 2018 on Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell.

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