I work in a small russian start-up.
To develop new business directions I hired a manager to fulfil my previous liabilities.

I started One-on-ones with him and to my surpise he had questions only at first one of them.
Every session starts with "his time" but he again and again has no interest to ask questions and bring considerations.

Is this behavior normal?

His personality is not the reason - he has a strong sense of humor and is open to communication.

A possible reason for his silence is that we sit in one room and if a non-standard situation arises we discuss it.
We also can discuss non-related to job topics but a discussion doesn't last more than 5 minutes while he knows that during One-on-ones he has more time to discuss issues of interest to him.

He nevertheless finds one-on-ones useful because brainstorming sessions during these meetings are helpful for our business.

What should I do with the situation?

L2LEADERSW's picture

Are you asking open-ended questions? I have to check myself to make sure I'm not doing all of the talking :).

Also, when someone is especially quiet, I like to stop, and prompt them. Here are a few I use:

"Give me one question that makes you think of"

"How do you feel about that?"

"What does that mean to you?"

 "If you were in my seat, what would you, ask you?" 

whynot's picture



this attitude is typicall of the Russian employee. 

How old is he/she?

What kind of working experiences he had before? is used to take initiative or you must "micromanage" and support ?

More important how long is he working with you?

The Boss in russia is really the POWER and Russians are used that dealing with the POWER is unpredictable, so the behaviour is coming as conseguence.

Build trust and show consistency in your approach to the people in the company and things will go better, but do not expect quick changes.


430jan's picture

I was surprised that it took most of a year of regular meetings before my directs really understood what I was after. It was just such an unusual thing to ask them to meet about their agenda items. Not really done much is it! I think that if you keep the purpose consistent it will achieve results. For some directs it was really all about their work goals and for others they would open up about their kids and home life. Doesn't really matter which way they want to take it, it is their time.


barca1's picture

Thanks everyone for suggestions.

He is 23 and has been working for me for 2 months (I am 26). At his previous workplace he was not micromanaged and had enough freedom to make decisions.

430jan's picture

Just give a bit of time to help him get used to these. Two months means he is still at the very beginning of integrating. I think that he is rather smart to hang back and look at the process for a while. I would much rather have someone that takes the time to know what I am looking for. 

One thing that I could recommend is that he listens to the "preparing for your one-on-one" podcast and also you mentioned that he does bring things to you on a regular basis because you are in the same room. Maybe you could give him feedback on which of these things might be better saved for the one-on-one. That would add some value to your day with fewer interruptions.


barca1's picture

Thanks, Janet.
He would hardly understand the cast because he is not so good in English. Do not forget, I am from Russia :)


Suprisingly, he decided to retire.
He no longer feels interested in our area and wants to develop his skills in another one.

I think, that is the reason why he didn't act openly.

When he told me about the decision I was much disoriented.
I thought that if I every week asked him to share feelings he would tell if something is going or getting wrong. But unfortunately I failed...


As a conclusion: in this case one on ones worked badly and didn't contributed to a final result.
And the reason (one of the main ones if not the main) is quite obvious - one on ones sessions lasted not so much time.

whynot's picture

  Not so sure that O3 worked badly, they showed him how you manage and what your view about what it is to be done, and he understood that he did not fit.

Better to have him resigning than fight to get him off, knowing all the Russian paperwork you need in Russia.

I think you will replace him quite quickly seeing the labor market condition. 


430jan's picture

I think you have your reason if this employee knew that he was going to resign. I don't see this as a failure for either one of you. In some part it is a success for someone to figure out that the work they do is not fulfilling and they need to move on. If he was not interested in your area then it surely isn't a failure for him to move on and find something more suited for himself!

Better days ahead!