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to think that confidential 1-2-1 discussions should not take place in a work canteen

(28 Posts)
ControlGeek Tue 07-May-13 20:16:32

My line manager holds all of his one-to-one meetings with his staff in the canteen, but I have refused to discuss anything remotely confidential at my one-to-ones unless he books a room. Occasionally he has booked a meeting room, but again today he said he had forgotten.

In my one-to-one today, with other people around, he tried to bring up my forthcoming hospital appointments and drug treatment. I told him I wasn't prepared to discuss it outside of a private meeting room. He also brings up issues like difficult internal customers, personality clashes etc, and discusses other members of staff, all of which to my mind shouldn't be aired where colleagues of these staff may overhear.

He doesn't like that I insist on him booking a room, but I feel uncomfortable discussing personal matters where other people can overhear. AIBU? Should I just grow a thicker skin about it?

HighJinx Tue 07-May-13 20:20:59

YANBU I think that is extremely unprofessional if you are discussing private issues.

I thought you were going to say the meetings were held in the canteen when no-one else was there, which would have been better.

It's not as if offices aren't known for gossiping is it?

ControlGeek Tue 07-May-13 20:24:27

Thanks HighJinx. We have a lot of meeting rooms but they fill up quickly so need to be booked about a week in advance. Because of this, the canteen is officially available for 'informal' meetings outside of the lunch period. It gets used pretty heavily for this reason.

ComtessedeFrouFrou Tue 07-May-13 20:28:25

YANBU at all.

We have a very similar situation at work. I am always stunned by people having confidential meetings in our cafe or, worse, having gossipy "confidential" conversations in the kitchen area and then glaring at you when you dare to come in and make a drink.

Get a room! (IYSWIM)

maddening Tue 07-May-13 20:50:03

I agree - Sainsbury staff 1-2-1s take place in the customer cafe - I was sat having a quick lunch with ds and one took place behind me - being ds was 12mths we didn't have much conversation going on to distract from it.

rambososcar Tue 07-May-13 20:52:10

YANBU. If the line manager doesn't comprehend this is there any benefit to you in taking your concerns to his superior?

ShadowStorm Tue 07-May-13 21:17:13


It's unprofessional of him to hold 1-2-1 meetings, where confidential stuff is being discussed, in a place where any of your colleagues might wander in.

ControlGeek Tue 07-May-13 21:20:57

rambososcar that would be very much frowned upon in my organisation. It would go against the culture in an awful lot of ways. Likewise approaching HR would not be an option. Sorry for the clipped response, I'm trying to be careful not to give myself/my organisation away for anyone who may work there or know it)

rambososcar Tue 07-May-13 21:30:30

I quite appreciate that you don't want to be outed, ControlGeek, there's absolutely no apology needed. Now I'm at a loss as to what to suggest though. Good grief, part of the point of having another boss or HR is surely to prevent bad practice? I'm cross with your company on your behalf.

nextphase Tue 07-May-13 21:33:57

How much notice do you get of the 1-2-1? Could you book a room as soon as you know there is a meeting?

creighton Tue 07-May-13 21:38:00

the manager is holding the meeting and so it is up to him/her to organise an appropriate room.

HighJinx Tue 07-May-13 21:54:18

I think you should stick to your current strategy of refusing to discuss these matters outside of a private meeting room.

Waste his time by refusing to discuss things at a couple of these canteen based 1-2-1's and it may jog his memory to book a meeting room next time.

seesensepeople Tue 07-May-13 23:08:22

This seems very strange to me.

Two possibilities as to why he may feel the need to hold 1 to 1s in a more public area:

1. Is he feeling threatened? Perhaps suffered a physical attack in the past?

2. Have there, perhaps, been allegations of inappropriate behaviour made in the past? False allegations would make him very careful...

Tailtwister Wed 08-May-13 07:09:47

YANBU. A good manager would never conduct 1-2-1's in a canteen, it's ridiculous. Say you want all your meetings to be in an office and if he makes a fuss about it, contact HR. Maybe then he'll take care to do the job he's paid for properly.

ComtessedeFrouFrou Wed 08-May-13 07:56:46

creighton in my workplace its up to us as appraisees to book the rooms. I don't see why the OP taking the initiative on that front would be a problem - then he'll see how serious it is for her.

Despicable that he would try to discuss her medical treatment in such a public place.

StuntGirl Wed 08-May-13 07:58:29

In this situation I would refuse to even attend them in the canteen, as I wouldn't want him even mentioning confidential things like hospital appointments and prescriptions in front of other staff.

Honestly, you know it's not right but you won't take it higher or go to HR, so what kind of solution are you expecting?

ControlGeek Wed 08-May-13 08:01:49

nextphase There is normally a fair bit of notice, and I have done this in the past. It always seems to take him by surprise when I do this. I just don't see why I should have to. He'll sometimes cancel the meeting with no notice to me (but having been aware of the change for some time himself) so it would be easier if he would handle the room booking.

seesensepeople No, he hasn't been attacked in the past, to my knowledge, and likewise no false (or otherwise) allegations of inappropriate behaviour. It genuinely doesn't seem to cross his mind. There is little weight given to managerial responsibility to staff in my organisation. The policies are there, but are paid lip service only. There is the general attitude that things like one to ones and room bookings just get in the way of 'real' work.

Thanks folks, I'll go with the general consensus on here and stick to my guns. Meeting room or nowt (or stony silence if he insists we are in the canteen!)

ControlGeek Wed 08-May-13 08:04:01

x-post stuntgirl I genuinely wanted to know if IWBU. I sometimes don't realise when I am being over-sensitive about something. I'm not asking for a solution, the only solution can be reached by me insisting the canteen is not an appropriate venue for these kind of meetings.

creighton Wed 08-May-13 08:06:39

comtesse, it should never be the responsibility of the appraisee to organise anything to do with an appraisal/1-2-1. it is a management procedure that the manager should organise. no doubt hr would pass this off as 'empowerment' or some such rubbish.

ComtessedeFrouFrou Wed 08-May-13 13:57:56

Um, i dont really see how you can say "it should never...". In our workplace it's viewed as appraisees taking responsibility for their own development. In any event, that's the system we (and a lot of other workplaces I know of) have, so that's what we do. It's generally felt that our managers have enough to do without booking 10 different appraisals twice a year.

thecapitalsunited Wed 08-May-13 19:10:03

Comtesse, its not just your workplace. At my workplace we have to arrange our own appraisals too. Don't really see what the problem is. I work out with my manager when the best time for it is (which we would have to do regardless) and book a room.

OP, if you insist on a private room (which you should do because a 1-2-1 should be private) then he's still going to think you are being awkward. Is going to HR going to be any worse than that?

Believeitornot Wed 08-May-13 19:14:07

See I book my own appraisals. Or my manager does. Or his assistant does. No biggie. Sometimes they're in the canteen, sometimes in a room. If you want a room, then I would suggest you book one. Maybe he doesn't remember, especially if he has to do loads of others.

However, maybe tell him beforehand why you want a room.

ControlGeek Wed 08-May-13 19:26:23

thecapitalsunited I'm not bothered about him thinking I am being awkward, I am well past that stage. Going to HR would be at best ineffective and at worst put a black mark against my name.

believeitornot we have already had the 'why a room is necessary for one to ones' chat. And the 'why HR data is confidential' chat. And the 'why year end activities are mandatory' chat. And a thousand other chats that never sank in because he would rather talk about his computer games hmm

Believeitornot Wed 08-May-13 19:28:51

Does he actually not understand that other people hearing your personal issues might be at the very least embarassing? How did he get to be a manager?!

ControlGeek Wed 08-May-13 20:05:09

believeitornot he was employed originally by an equally incompetent manager, to do a job he was not qualified to do. He is so far out of his depth it's unbelievable. But in my organisation it's the classic 'those looking down see smiling faces, those looking up see only arseholes'.

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