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Become A One Minute Manager

A manager and her teamFor my personal development, I recently picked up an audio copy of the book, The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, and so far I have listened to it twice, and I intend to listen to it a few more times because I want the concepts to really stick.

The book is written as a parable of this youngster who is looking for an effective management style, and he hears about the one minute manager who does not micromanage, and everyone likes to work for. This manager points the youngster to an employee who starts by sharing the first secret of the one minute manager, the One Minute Goals.

One minute goal-setting  involves a meeting of the manager and the employee to set agreeable goals.  The goals must be brief enough to review in about a minute, because it is expected that for effectiveness they should often be reviewed a couple of times a day by the employee. Whether the meeting takes a literal minute is questionable, but the point is that time should be spent clarifying objectives which both parties must agree to, and the objectives must be very simple to understand.

The premise of the one minute goal stems from the fact that in many organizations, employees are not fully aware of what is expected of them, so they are not sure when they actually hit a target. The goals usually set out by organizations are abstract, and the confusion that results leads to inefficiency and discouragement.

The second secret of the one minute manager is One Minute Praising. This involves “catching people doing something right”. Most people are wired to do the contrary. Say a child comes home with four As and one D on the report sheet, most people spend time chewing out the child over the one D, ignoring the four As.

The One Minute Manager is out to catch someone doing something right. When an employee does great work, the one minute manager takes a “minute” to acknowledges and praises the employee. There are three elements to the one minute praise, the first is to tell them specifically what they did correctly. Second is to let them know how you feel about it without mincing words, and pause to allow them to “feel” how good you feel regarding their importance to the organization, and finally be sure to demonstrate how you feel. A pat on the back, arms, or by shaking hands.

The final secret of the one minute manager is the One Minute Reprimand. This is about being honest with those around you involves reprimanding when a wrong has occurred. The one minute reprimand is reserved for those who know better and have a bad attitude about it. The book strongly suggests that one ought to be careful about dishing out a one minute reprimand.

Firstly the manager must first assess if both her and the employee were clear on the goals and objectives. Secondly the book states that you do not reprimand someone who’s still learning because it immobilizes and cripples the person’s growth. Rather you encourage learners with praises as they make step by step progress. It’s like waiting for your toddler who is just learning to talk to say, “I want a glass of water” before giving him water. Instead, you get excited when the child says, “wawa”.

The first step to the one minute reprimand when deserved, by one who should know better but fell short, is to reprimand immediately and specifically. There’s no point leaving it open for guesses because people genuinely have errors of omission, so be specific. The second element of the one minute reprimand is to state how you feel accurately and demonstrate the way you feel. If you feel angry, say you are angry and act angry. Same deal if you are frustrated or disappointed. Finally you reaffirm the person by reminding them that you know they are a great employee and you consider them a valuable asset to the organization.

The book notes that the one minute reprimand is only effective when you reprimand before reassuring, hence you condition the employee to expect a reprimand after a praise. Both the one minute praise and one minute reprimand must be honest demonstrations of how you feel. Don’t make anything up, but just communicate effectively how you feel.

You might be thinking, ‘I’m not a manager’, but you are. If you are a mother then you are a manager of your home. In social groups you become a manager depending on the activity at hand. In relationships, each partner becomes a manager of the other person’s feelings and activities in the relationship.

I encourage you to get the book, and apply it in the different areas of your life. It’s a very easy read, I particularly like the audio book because I can listen to it while driving and reinforce the concepts in about 90 minutes of driving.

What do you think? I always appreciate a good read, are there any other management and leadership books you’ll like to share?


  • tcavey

    February 11, 02 2013 11:33:35

    Sounds like a good book, even for parenting.

    • Moyo Mamora

      February 11, 02 2013 12:19:27

      That’s exactly right!

  • Funmi

    February 13, 02 2013 02:49:22

    i love this. Great piece sir. God bless

  • Dan Black

    February 14, 02 2013 03:24:15

    Becoming a one minute manager is something anyone of influence can become. It might require focus and work but the outcome will benefit everyone. Have you read Great Leader’s Grow by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller? That’s a great book as well.

    • Moyo Mamora

      February 15, 02 2013 02:18:41

      I think the concept of the One Minute Manager is relevant for anyone of influence at whatever level. Thanks for the book recommendation Dan, I’ll surely check it out!

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