The One Minute Manager | Notes & Review

Posted on May 15, 2010


Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson. The One Minute Manager. Berkeley Books, 1982. (111 pages)

“In this brief story, we present you with a great deal of what we have learned from our studies in medicine and in the behavioral sciences about how people work best with other people.” (9)

By “best,” we mean how people produce valuable results, and feel good about themselves, the organization and the other people with whom they work. (9)

The allegory begins with a man searching out for an effective manager. Most were “autocratic–I keep on top of the situation; bottom-line, hard-nosed, realistic, profit-minded.” “He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in results. (13) Some were “democratic, participative, supportive, considerate, humanistic.” (14) “He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in people.” (14) “It was as though most managers in the world were primarily interested either in results or in people.” (15)

Effective managers manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organization and the people profit from their presence. (15)

He finally finds one to interview who “listens while his people review and analyze what they’ve accomplished, the problems they had, and what still needs to be accomplished.” Yet, “I don’t believe in participating in any of my people’s decision-making.” But he’s not results-oriented, or people oriented. “How on earth can I get results if it’s not through people? I care about people and results. They go hand in hand.”

People Who Feel Good About Themselves Produce Good Results

“Productivity is both quantity and quality, and the best way to achieve both of these results is through people.” (21)

One Minute Goal Setting: Always make clear what our responsibilities are and what we are being held accountable for. Once it has been communicated, it is recorded on no more than a single page. The One Minute Manager feels that a goal, and its performance standard, should take no more than 250 words to express. He insists that anyone be able to read it within a minute.

Is there one for every goal? Yes. Wouldn’t there be a lot of pages? No. 80/20. 80% of our really important results will come from 20% of your goals.

The philosophy of the One Minute Goal Setting is “no surprises”–everyone knows what is expected from the beginning. (29)

If someone has a problem, the manager simply answers, Good! That’s what you’ve been hired to solve. … Tell me, what is your problem–but put it in behavioral terms. I do not want to hear about only attitudes or feelings. Tell me what is happening in observable, measurable terms. … If you can’t tell me what you’d like to be happening, you don’t have a problem yet. You’re just complaining. A problem only exists if there is a difference between what is actually happening and what you desire to be happening.” (31)

One Minute Goal Setting is simply:

  1. Agree on your goals.
  2. See what good behavior looks like.
  3. Write out each of your goals on a single sheet of paper using less than 250 words.
  4. Read and re-read each goal, which requires only a minute or so each time you do it.
  5. Take a minute every once in a while out of your day to look at your performance, and
  6. See whether or not your behavior matches your goal.

One Minute Praisings:

Help People Reach Their Full Potential … Catch Them Doing Something Right

  1. Tell people up front that you are going to let them know how they are doing.
  2. Praise people immediately.
  3. Tell people what they did right–be specific.
  4. Tell people how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there.
  5. Stop for a moment of silence to let them “feel” how good you feel.
  6. Encourage them to do more of the same.
  7. Shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success in the organization.

One Minute Reprimand: the One Minute Manager is always quick to respond. “He looks me straight in the eye and tells me precisely what I did wrong. Then he shares with me how he feels about it–he’s angry, annoyed, frustrated, or whatever…” “Then, he looks me squarely in the eye and lets me know how competent he thinks I usually am. He makes sure I understand that the only reason he is angry with me is that he has so much respect for me. He says he knows this is so unlike me. He says how much he looks forward to seeing me some other time, as long as I understand that he does not welcome that same mistake again.” (54)

If the One Minute Manager ever made a mistake, “we point it out to him and kid him ab out it. … Then we laugh. … He has taught us the value of being able to laugh at ourselves when we make a mistake. It helps us get on with our work.” (56)

  1. Tell people beforehand that you are going to let them know how they are doing in no uncertain terms.
    the first half of the reprimand:
  2. Reprimand people immediately.
  3. Tell people what they did wrong–be specific.
  4. Tell people how you feel about what they did wrong–and in no uncertain terms.
  5. Stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them feel how you feel.
    the second half of the reprimand:
  6. Shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are honestly on their side.
  7. Remind them how much you value them.
  8. Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation.
  9. Realize that when the reprimand is over, it’s over.

SO, does it all really just take a minute?

“No, not always. It just is a way to say that being a manager is not as complicated as people would have you believe. And also managing people doesn’t take as long as you’d think. So, when I say One Minute Management, it might take more than a minute for each of the key elements like goal setting, but it’s just a symbolic term. And very often it does take only a minute.

The Best Minute I Spend Is The One I Invest In People

“It’s ironic,…most companies spend 50-70% of their money on people’s salaries. And yet they spend less than 1% of their budget to train their people. Most companies, in fact, spend more time and money on maintaining their buildings and equipment than they do on maintaining and developing people.”

“…the number one motivator of people is feedback on results. ‘Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions.'”

Often Performance Reviews are used to “zap” people when they don’t perform at the desired level. Why? … So the manager can look good. How do you think you would be viewed by your boss if you rated everyone that reported to you at the highest level on your performance review scale? ‘As a soft touch,’ someone who could not discriminate between good performance and poor performance. Precisely. In order to look good as a manager in most organizations, you have to catch some of your people doing things wrong. You have to have a few winners, a few losers, and everyone else somewhere in the middle. You see, in this country we have a normal-distribution-curve mentality.

Everyone Is A Potential Winner … Some People Are Disguised As Losers, Don’t Let Their Appearances Fool You

Take A Minute: Look At Your Goals, Look At Your Performance. See If Your Behavior Matches Your Goals

One of the most popular leadership styles is “leave alone-zap.” You leave a person alone, expect good performance from them, and when you don’t get it, you zap them.

STORY: Friends who got a new dog. If the dog had an accident on the rug, they were going to take the dog, shove his nose in it, pound him on the butt with a newspaper and then throw the dog out this little window in the kitchen into the back yard–where the dog was suppose to do his job. … What would happen? Well, after about three days the dog would poop on the floor and jump out the window. The dog didn’t know what to do, but he knew he had better clear the area. … That’s what punishment does when you use it with somebody who lacks confidence or is insecure because of lack of experience. Rather than punish them, we need to go back to One Minute Goal Setting.

My purpose in a One Minute Reprimand is to eliminate the behavior and keep the person.

Be “Tough ‘n’ Nice.”

STORY: of an Emperor and Prime Minister (second in command). Emperor said to Prime Minister, Why don’t we divide up the tasks? Why don’t you do all the punishing and I’ll do all the rewarding? Fine. However, the Emperor noticed that whenever he asked something of the people, they might do it or they might not do it. However, when the Prime Minister spoke, people moved. So the Emperor called the Prime Minister back in and said, Why don’t we [switch]. Let me do all the punishing and you do all the rewarding. Within a month, the prime minister was emperor. The emperor had been a nice person, rewarding and being kind to everyone; then he started to punish people. People said, What’s wrong with that old codger? and they threw him out. When they came to look for a replacement, they said, You know who’s really starting to come around now–the prime minister.

If you are first tough on the behavior, then then supportive of the person, it works.

These three basic ingredient–telling people what they did wrong; telling people how you feel about it; and reminding people that they are valuable and worthwhile–lead to significant improvements in people’s behavior.

Behavior and worth are not the same things. What is really worthwhile is the person managing their own behavior.

We are Not Just Our Behavior. We Are The Person Managing Our Behavior

Simple rule about touch. When you touch, don’t take. Touch the people you manage only when you are giving them something–reassurance, support, encouragement, whatever.

Goals Begin Behaviors. Consequences Maintain Behaviors

— VIA —

Another excellent, simple, accessible management/leadership book. The only comment is this perpetual amazement that I have at how much management/leadership is all about human behavior. They mention the behavioral sciences in the beginning of this book, and it is quite apropos. These kinds of principles (goals, reprimand, praise) are applicable to all kinds of relationships, especially family and close relationships.

Perhaps the greatest “aha” was the reminder at how much time and effort (even resources) are spent in developing, growing, and maturing the “people,” and “relationships” in an organization in comparison with the time and effort spent on buildings, systems, etc. Like Lencioni’s “Smart & Healthy,” how much would any organization benefit by more intentionally attending to the people?