Book Summary 12: The One Minute Manager

Before I begin, I must mention that this book by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson itself is a summary of sorts — it is only about a hundred short pages long. Yet it has sold millions of copies and remained a bestseller for decades.

The lessons are delivered in a fictional setting of a man who is in search of an effective manager.  He finds either managers who are loved by their team but do not produce good results, or managers who produce great results but are hated by their team and hence have a high employee churn rate. He has heard about someone people call “the one minute manager” and has an encounter with him and his company.

Through a series of meetings with the one minute manager and his team, he learns the three secrets of “one minute management”:

  1. One minute goal setting
    80% of your progress is from 20% of your goals. The one-minute goal setting process means that each employee has a list of 4 to 6 major projects, each one with a clearly defined goal and performance standard.
    -The goal and performance standard should be written down in no more than 250 words- about one page.
    -It should not take more than a minute to read, so that the person assigned the goal can review it frequently.
    -Re-reading this goal is critical.
    -The person assigned the goal as well as the manager can frequently assess if the behaviour is aligned with the goal.
  2. One minute praising
    Natural tendency is to catch people doing something wrong. Most managers mention when something is being done wrong, while they keep quiet when things are being done right. The one-minute management style suggests we reverse this, especially for new employees who need training. Instead of figuring out where they stumble, we try to catch them doing something right and giving them praise for it. This reinforces positive behaviour.
    -Be upfront about letting people know what they’re doing right.
    -Tell people how good you feel about it. Stop for a moment to let them feel it.
    -If it is comfortable for both, shake hands or touch them on their shoulder to add the personal touch.
    -Try to give the praise as soon as possible following a good behaviour, this associates positive behaviour with positive reinforcement.
    The entire “praising” session doesn’t take more than a minute!

    One minute praising can reinforce positive behaviour and help your team feel appreciated.

  3. One minute reprimand
    Feedback is essential to create champions in an organization. The third secret is to give negative feedback when required. This means, when behaviour does not match the standards expected. This is especially true if the goals are understood well and the issue is a motivation issue and not a skill issue. (If it is a skill issue, they may require training and not a reprimand.)
    -Reprimand immediately if possible.
    -Reprimand the behaviour only, not the person.
    -Tell them how you feel about it. It’s important they understand.
    -Even though the silence will be uncomfortable, stop for a few seconds and let it sink in.
    -In the second half of the reprimand: remind them you value them.
    -Remind them that you think well of them, but not of their behaviour/performance in the current situation.
    -Let them know that when the reprimand is over, it’s over. It shouldn’t linger on between the relationship.

    Instead of being in denial about poor performance or behaviour that does not match goals, it is important to confront issues through the one minute reprimand.

    This one minute management system could be used to manipulate people, and if people feel manipulated they would stop responding. Therefore the authors recommend that there should be transparency about each of these three aspects of one-minute management. This means you reveal to them beforehand how you will be dealing with them in terms of goal-setting, praise, and reprimands.

    This simple formula encourages clarity of goals, reinforces positive behaviour by praise, and is not afraid of looking at possible trouble-points through the reprimand. It works!

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