Much of our inspiration comes from Manager Tools Podcast. Mike and Mark challenge any mainstream sports show or talking politicos in terms of chemistry and storytelling. Mike throws alley oops to Mark every cast and it’s delightful, insightful listening.

They make management pragmatically fun.

Their recent podcast struck a nerve: Resistant Directs in a 1 on 1 Meeting. For the sake of argument, we’ll loop performance reviews (or any mandated management practice) into the loop. If you do not have 30 minutes to listen the podcast now, below is a 3 minute summary you can take to your next meeting.

First off, if you’re a manager who doesn’t do 1:1 meetings with your direct reports, just stop reading. It’s clear you don’t know care about retention or results.

If you do 1:1 meetings with your direct reports, keep reading.

Many managers worry their directs do not want to have 1 on 1 meetings with them. Before we dive into how to handle a direct report who is resistant to feedback it’s important we review the data Mike and Mark have uncovered.

Important data to know:

  • The data from Managers Tools suggest 1 in 1000 employees will resist 1 on 1 meetings to the point where it affects their long time career at the company.
  • 65% of direct reports “talk about the right amount” in a 1 on 1 meeting. This fact alone proves the value for 1:1’s which is why millions of managers are using 1 on 1 meetings today.
  • 30% actually talk too much.
  • 4-5% of direct reports who refuse to communicate in the 1 on 1.

Most directs do not resist 1 on 1 meetings for too long.

What does resistance to 1 on 1 meetings mean? The simple answer: do they have them or not. It’s not about attitude or feelings, it’s about behaviors. A simple behavior is whether they attend and communicate. Communication is a great behavior to coach and assess.

The Most Common Objection and Reason to Resist 1 on 1 Meeting:


It’s important managers communicate to their direct reports that in a 50 hour work week, asking their directs to a weekly, regularly scheduled meeting lasting 30 minutes means the manager is asking for 1% of their time for the week. This is not micromanagement.

The purpose of a 1 on 1 meeting is to create a trusting relationship with every direct that allows managers to manage using relationship power. – Manager Tools

Lastly, before diving into 3 simple ways to manage a direct who resists 1 on 1 meetings, it’s important to use the “Middle Men Test.” The Middle Men Test states: never tolerate from a direct that which you would not visit upon your boss. This gives you ability to insist that your direct reports do it.

  1. Communicate 1:1 meetings are a business meeting.
  2. Restate your intent to continue 1:1 meetings.
  3. No matter what, continue having 1:1 meetings.
  4. At the start of every 1 on 1, ask a question that opens it for the employee for example: “What do you got?”
  5. You take over and cover your agenda. Afterwards, make sure they don’t have anything else to say.
  6. Be patient up to three months of an uncollaborative, resistant employee.
  7. Explain how the resistance is affecting major company or team initiatives: teamwork, collaboration, or team player and how it’s affecting the business and team. 

Use these 7 steps we’ve learned from the Manager Tools team. If you have time over the weekend, definitely listen to the cast.

About WideAngle: streamline 1:1 meetings and performance reviews.