The One Minute Manager

The One Minute Manager (by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson) was written three decades ago but continues to be on various Bestseller lists.

The One Minute Manager gives managers 3 simple tools, which each takes 60 seconds or less, but can tremendously improve how they do their job; getting people stay motivated , happy and deliver great work”.

It starts with the problem of having many “tough” managers (whose superiors think they are good, but their subordinates think otherwise) and many “nice” managers (whose people seem to like them but their business results are lackluster). It is the story of a young man’s quest to be an effective manager – who could make both the organization and the people profit.
Such a manager believes that people who feel good about themselves produce good results. His/her philosophy is that “The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people“. He has three specific traits (by the way these traits ensure that he never appears too busy – the book is full of comments like, “since I became a one-minute manager, I have plenty of time”).

The first and most important thing is One minute Goal-setting. The manager’s key job is to:
a) Set challenging goals and ensure his/her group buys into those goals, and
b) Clarify expectations against those goals – in other words, what good performance standard really is.
Having done this, the manager would NOT solve his subordinates’ problems, but, if needed, just prod them in the right direction. This also frees up his/her time – hence the emphasis that a really effective manager would usually never have a dearth of time.

The two other traits are One Minute Praisings and One Minute Reprimands. Interestingly, a manager is expected to catch his/her people “doing the right things”, and immediately praise them, so that they would continue doing it in future. Equally, any mistake should be immediately reprimanded in very clear terms. In the second case, the emphasis is to delineate the action from the person – make it clear that the individual was and is very valuable for the organization. The mistake has hurt the manager, primarily because he/she cares for the subordinate and wants that person to grow and improve.

As the subordinates learn, they start practicing some of the concepts themselves, in turn becoming one minute managers! Over time, they become so good, that they don’t even need a manager! And herein lies the paradox: a really effective manager should make himself/herself redundant! People under him/her are so empowered, enabled and energetic that they can really carry on their own…

Why should you read the book: First, it is written like an amazing story with big ‘easy-to-read’ fonts and should take less than an hour to complete. Then, the core concept – of setting clear goals, catching people doing the right things and praising them, and also transparently giving feedback on what needs to improve- is amazing in its ingenuity and simplicity. The best part is that it works as well, whether it is managing work or a family and relationships!