THE ONE-MINUTE MANAGER
THE ONE-MINUTE MANAGER
THE ONE-MINUTE MANAGER
Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Do you want to know an effective way to manage people? Do you want to know how to be an effective manager? How do you bring about productivity and happiness in your group?
Believe it or not, you only need one minute. You need one minute to set goals. You need one minute to give praise. You need one minute to give a reprimand. If you do so, your people will feel good about themselves and keep performing well.
If you’re a manager or you’re aspiring to be one, it’s time to change your frame of mind. Take time to reflect and apply what you’ll learn from this book. Employees, parents, teachers, and even pet lovers can also learn from the One Minute Manager.
The book starts with a young man and his search for an effective manager. He went to different kinds of organizations. He visited banks, restaurants, hotels, stores, universities, government, and corporate offices.
Some managers describe themselves as autocratic, realistic, and profit-oriented. The employees consider them tough. These managers are more result-oriented. Their organizations win while their people lose.
Some managers describe themselves as participative, considerate, and humanistic. The employees consider them nice. These managers are more people-oriented. Their people win while their organizations lose.
The young man felt frustrated. He thought that the managers he had met were doing half the job. He was about to give up. Then the young man heard about a special manager in a nearby town.
People like to work for this manager. His team always delivered good results. The young man became curious. He called the special manager’s office and asked for an appointment.
The One Minute Manager
When the young man entered the office, he found the manager standing in front of the window. He turned around, smiled, and asked, “What can I do for you?” The young man replied, “I’d like to learn how you manage people.”
The special manager did not consider himself participative. He did not want to participate in the decision-making of his subordinates.
The special manager also didn’t consider himself result-oriented. He cared both about people and results. For this manager, these concepts went hand in hand.
There is a note on the manager’s desk that said, “People who feel good about themselves produce good results.” The young man realized that was true.
The manager helped his people feel good. When he did this, his employees got more work done. It isn’t all about quantity. It’s also about quality. The manager directed the young man to the window.
They observed that more and more Americans were buying foreign cars. There were plenty of local cars to choose from, but they preferred the foreign ones. People choose foreign cars because they are cheaper and more efficient.
Productivity is both quantity and quality. The manager explained that to achieve both, the key is to invest in the people.
“If you’re neither participative nor profit-minded, then how do you describe yourself as a manager?” the young man asked. “That’s easy. I’m a One Minute Manager.” He called himself this because the One Minute Manager got big results from people in just a small amount of time.
The young man had never met a manager like him before. He could not bring himself to believe it. The manager said, “Listen, you’d better talk to my people if you want to know what kind of manager I am.”
He handed the young man a piece of paper. Written on it were the names of the people who directly reported to him. “Who should I start with?” The young man asked. “I already told you, I don’t make decisions for other people,” the manager said firmly.
There was a silence between them that made the young man very uncomfortable. Then the manager looked him in the eye and said, “You want to know about managing people, and I admire that.”
“If you have any questions after talking to some of my people, come back and see me. I’d like to give you the One Minute Manager concept as a gift. Someone gave it to me once, and it’s made all the difference to me. If you like it, you may want to become a One Minute Manager yourself someday.”
The First Secret: One Minute Goals
The young man chose three names from the list. He decided to visit Mr. Trenell first. The middle-aged man smiled at him when he entered the office.
“Well, you’ve been to see the ‘ole man.’ He’s quite a guy, isn’t he?” Mr. Trenell said. “Did he tell you about being a One Minute Manager?”
“He sure did. It’s not true, is it?” asked the young man. “You’d better believe it is,” Mr. Trenell replied. “I hardly ever see him.” The young man was puzzled.
He learned that the One Minute Manager spent very little time with Mr. Trenell. He only does so when he’s assigning a new task or responsibility. The One Minute Manager gave Mr. Trenell the “one-minute goal setting.”
In many organizations, subordinates are confused about their goals and what they are expected to do. However, the One Minute Manager made it clear to his people what their responsibilities were and what they were accountable for. He assists his people with “one-minute goal setting.”
The employee writes his goal on a sheet of paper. Each goal should not take more than 250 words to express. It should take only one minute to read. Both the subordinate and the One Minute Manager get a copy of the goal. Then, they read the paper from time to time to check their progress.
Due to the “one-minute goal setting,” each member of the team knows what is expected from him or her. For example, one of Mr. Trenell’s goals was to “Identify performance problems and come up with solutions which will turn the situation around.”
When Mr. Trenell was new, he came to the One Minute Manager to consult a problem. The manager said, “Tell me what is happening in observable, measurable terms. I do not want to hear about only attitudes or feelings.”
Mr. Trenell became confused. He didn’t know what to say. The manager told Mr. Trenell not to waste his time. “If you can’t tell me what you’d like to be happening, he said, you don’t have a problem yet. You’re just complaining.”
The manager guided Mr. Trenell until he arrived at the best solution. “You’re good, Trenell,” the manager said. “Remember that the next time you have a problem.”
How to set Minute Goals
1. The manager and employee must agree on the goals.
2. Determine what good behavior looks like.
3. Write out each goal on a piece of paper using less than 250 words.
4. Take a minute every once in a while to assess your performance.
5. Determine whether your behavior matches your goal.
The Second Secret: One Minute Praising
The young man went to Mr. Levy’s office next. He was welcomed by someone slightly older than himself. Mr. Levy smiled and asked, “Well, you’ve been to see the ‘ole man.’ He’s quite a guy, isn’t he? Did he tell you about being a One Minute Manager?”
“He sure did. It’s not true, is it?” asked the young man again. He thought Mr. Levy would give a different answer. Then Mr. Levy said, “You’d better believe it’s true. I hardly ever see him.”
The young man learned that the One Minute Manager spent very little time with Mr. Levy. That time was used to give him the “one-minute praising.”
When Mr. Levy was new, the One Minute Manager told him that it would be easier for him to improve if he got clear feedback on his performance. The manager wanted Mr. Levy to succeed, to be an asset, and enjoy his job.
Therefore, the manager would tell Mr. Levy how well he was performing or where he was performing poorly. It was very uncomfortable at first. Most managers don’t do it. The One Minute Manager said that clear feedback would be very helpful for Mr. Levy.
After giving Mr. Levy his “one-minute goal,” the manager stayed in touch with him to observe his actions closely. At first, Mr. Levy thought that the manager didn’t trust him. Then Mr. Levy realized that the manager was trying to catch him doing something right.
In most organizations, the managers stay close to catch their people doing something wrong. The One Minute Manager was not like that. He approached Mr. Levy to give him a pat on the back.
“Doesn’t that bother you when he touches you?” the young man asked. Mr. Levy said no, because of that simple gesture, Mr. Levy knew that the manager cared. He wanted Mr. Levy to succeed.
The manager looked Mr. Levy in the eye and told him exactly what it was that he did right. The “one-minute praising” also showed that the manager was aware of Mr. Levy’s progress.
Moreover, the manager was consistent. He would give praise when the person deserved it. Even if something else was bothering him or another department was doing things wrong, he only reacted to the person he was dealing with.
“Doesn’t all this praising have to take up a lot of the manager’s time?” the young man asked. “Not really,” said Mr. Levy. “Remember, you don’t have to praise someone for very long to make them know you noticed and you care. It usually takes less than a minute.”
How to give One Minute Praising
1. Tell people upfront that you are always going to give feedback.
2. Praise people immediately.
3. Tell people exactly what they did right.
4. Tell people how good you feel about what they did right and how it helped the other employees and the organization.
5. Pause for a moment of silence to let them “feel” how good you feel.
6. Encourage the person to do more of the same.
7. Shake hands or touch them in a way that shows you genuinely want them to succeed.
The young man was fascinated by the things he was learning. He kept writing them in his small notebook. Then, the young man got curious about whether this one-minute management style received bottom-line results. He went downtown to check the operation site.
The young man met the operations manager, Ms. Gomez. “Could you please tell me what is the most efficient and effective of all your operations in the country?” he asked.
The young man learned that the best operation of the company was still the one handled by the One Minute Manager. He didn’t have the best equipment. Ms. Gomez said that he used the oldest ones.
“Well, there’s got to be something wrong out there,” said the young man, still puzzled. “Tell me, does he lose a lot of his people? Does he have a lot of turnovers?”
The manager, indeed, has a lot of turnovers. That’s because his people are trained so well that they can already start a new operation. After two years of working under the One Minute Manager, they leave the manager’s operation to run their own.
The Third Secret: One Minute Reprimand
Everything he had learned made the young man eager to learn the third and final secret. He came early to Ms. Brown’s office the next morning.
Ms. Brown was a smart lady in her fifties. She also said, “Well, you’ve been to see the ‘old man.’ He’s quite a guy, isn’t he? Did he tell you about being a One Minute Manager?”
“He sure did. It’s not true, is it?” asked the young man again. He thought Ms. Brown would give a different answer. “You’d better believe it’s true,” Ms. Brown said. “I hardly ever see him.”
The only time that Ms. Brown saw the manager was when she did something wrong. “But I thought a key motto around here was catching people doing things right?” asked the young man.
Ms. Brown explained that she had been in the company for years. She did her goal setting. She writes her goal on a sheet of paper and sends it over to the manager. Ms. Brown also knew to commend herself when she’s done something right.
When Ms. Brown made a mistake, the manager immediately came to see her. First, the manager would tell her exactly what it was that she did wrong. He looks Ms. Brown straight in the eye and tells her if he is annoyed, angry, or frustrated with her mistake.
There will be a moment of silence. Then the manager would say he knows how competent Ms. Brown is. He knows that it is unlike her to commit such a mistake. The reprimand only takes about 30 seconds, but it will make you remember.
Since the reprimand is immediate, you’ll know that you cannot get away with the wrong behavior. It only attacks the mistake and not the person. When the reprimand is over, it’s over; you can even laugh about it afterward. You know the reprimand is fair, and you cannot make the same mistake again.
How to give One Minute Reprimand
1. Tell people beforehand that you are going to give them clear feedback.
2. Reprimand people immediately.
3. Tell people exactly what they did wrong.
4. Tell people how you feel about what they did wrong, for example, annoyed, frustrated, or disappointed.
5. Stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let the feeling sink in.
6. Shake hands or pat them on the back.
7. Remind the person how much he or she is valued.
8. Reaffirm that the person is okay, but the behavior was not in this situation.
9. When the reprimand is done, it’s done. Continue with the task.
The One Minute Manager Explains
The young man knew all the secrets of “one-minute management.” He wanted to know why they worked. He wanted to know why the One Minute Manager was the most productive in the company. The young man went back to him to get more insight.
“Do you mean it takes a minute to do all the things you need to do as a manager?” the young man asked.
Sometimes it takes more. It implies that it’s not too complicated to be an effective manager. There’s a note on the One Minute Manager’s desk that said, “The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.”
Most companies invest more in facilities and equipment. They don’t realize that the best results can be achieved by investing in the people. One by one, the manager explained why the one-minute secrets worked.
Why One Minute Goals Work
Many employees are unmotivated in the workplace. That’s because most managers let people go to work, not knowing what they’re supposed to do. The managers assume that the employees should know what to do; that’s not right.
Managers must give a goal and provide feedback. Working without a goal is like playing golf at night or playing basketball without a net.
One day, the One Minute Manager saw some of the problem employees playing bowling. These were the people with the lowest performance in his past organization.
The manager noticed that the problem employee was very happy and energetic while playing bowling. That was very unlike him at work. He jumped and screamed when he hit all the pins. The employee was not motivated because at work; he didn’t even know where the pins were.
Most teams have a few winners and a few losers. The majority of the members are somewhere in the middle. The One-Minute Manager said everyone is a potential winner. If you train people well, each member can excel. Therefore, any team can be a team of winners.
The “one-minute goal setting” can be summarized as “Take a minute. Look at your goals. Look at your performance. See if your behavior matches your goals.”
Why One Minute Praising Works
How do you train people to be winners? You catch them doing something right. If you have new hires or if you’re assigning a new project, you have to observe your people. By catching them doing something right, you move them to the desired behavior.
Most managers do not praise unless the employee reaches the highest level of performance. Most employees do not get there because the managers focus on catching them doing something wrong.
When a team has new hires, the members welcome them. The new hires are taken around and introduced to everybody. After that, they are mostly left alone.
That is the most common leadership style. It is the “leave alone and zap style.” It means the leader leaves the employee on his own and expects good performance. When the employee could not do it, the leader will zap or get mad and punish them.
The effect of this kind of leadership; employees do as little as possible. They do not produce quantity or quality. If the people are managed poorly, if they are not trained to be high performers, then the organization would not prosper as well.
The leave-alone and zap style is like training a dog where to pee. If the dog pees on the carpet, the owner shoves the dog’s nose in it, hits him on the butt, and throws him out in the backyard.
The owner doesn’t show the dog that the backyard is the right place to pee. Instead, he just punishes. After a few days, the dog will still pee on the carpet. Then he will run off to the backyard because he knows what will happen next.
If you have poor performers in your team, it may be that they lack confidence in themselves. It may be that they are insecure because they lack experience. Do not punish them.
The right thing to do is to go back to the first step, “one-minute goal setting.” Make the members understand what is expected of them. Show them what good performance looks like.
Then, you observe them and catch them doing something right. Find opportunities to give them the “one-minute praising.” Little by little, the poor performers will improve and become good performers.
Why One Minute Reprimand Works
“One-minute reprimand” works because the feedback is immediate. As soon as the person does something wrong, he should receive a reprimand.
Most managers “gunny sack” when disciplining their employees. This means they only react when the “sack is full.” When the employee makes a mistake, the manager will let it pass. When the mistakes pile up, that’s the time when the manager will snap and get very angry.
It can be on the performance review or any stressful day. The manager will recall all the mistakes that the employee made weeks or months before. Then, the employee will get defensive. They will end up shouting at each other.
If the manager reprimanded immediately, the employee would not be overwhelmed. The wrong behavior would be addressed. The employee will know his mistake and see that the reprimand is fair.
The “one-minute reprimand” also works because it attacks the mistake, not the person. It is common for managers to persecute the individual for committing a mistake. The “one-minute reprimand” makes it clear that you want to eliminate the wrong behavior and not the employee.
After the reprimand, the One Minute Manager gives praise. It shows that the behavior is not okay, but the person is okay. The effective manager is tough on the behavior and supportive of the person.
This works well when disciplining children too. When a child does something wrong, the parent should touch the child gently and then tell exactly what it was the child did. Then give them a few seconds of silence to understand the mistake they made. Finally, the parent should say how much the child is loved.
One note on the manager’s desk said, “Goals begin behaviors, consequences maintain behaviors.”
The young man listened enthusiastically and took notes on the things he learned. The manager saw the potential in him.
“I like you, young man. How would you like to go to work here?” the manager said.
“You mean go to work for you?” the young man excitedly replied.
“No. I mean, go to work for yourself. I just help people work better, and in the process, they benefit our organization.”
The young man finally found what he was looking for. “Yes, Of course. I’d love to work here,” he said.
He became a One Minute Manager
The young man became a One-Minute Manager, not because he talked like one or thought like one. He applied the secrets. He set one-minute goals for his team. He gave them “one-minute praising” and “one-minute reprimand.”
In that very short time, he helped people feel good about themselves and perform at their best. The new One Minute Manager avails some time for himself. He did not experience the physical and emotional stress that most managers do.
The new One Minute Manager shared the secrets with his members. They enjoyed a good working relationship. Together, they produced the best results that improved the organization.
You learned how to be a One-Minute Manager. You learned how to set one-minute goals. You also learned how to give “one-minute praising” and “one-minute reprimand.”
Effective management can be done in a small amount of time. If you genuinely care about your subordinates, your colleagues, or your loved ones, then you can be a Minute Manager.