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The One-Minute Manager


I don't know how it's allowed, but a full PDF copy of “The New One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard, Ph.D., and Spencer Johnson, M.D., is available online when you search Google for "One Minute Manager PDF." I took the time do download it and had my phone read it to me (See "Making Drive Time Productive: Getting Your iPhone to Read to You"). I had not read it for more than 10 years. I didn't feel bad about getting it for free from the internet since I have MANY copies all over my office, including audio versions on CD and in in our company eLibrary.


Quick Summary

“The One Minute Manager” is a parable about a young man who searches the world over to find a good manager to mentor him and finally finds "The One Minute Manager" who teaches him three secrets: One Minute Goals, One Minute Praising, and One Minute Reprimands. The first half of the book teaches the fundamentals of the three secrets (summarized below). The second half of the book explains how and why each of the three secrets works, especially the fact that positive reinforcement is really the only sensible way to train or manage anyone (or even any creature, like Shamu the Killer Whale).

During the training process "catching them doing something right, or approximately right," and praising them, is the fastest, most likely way to turn someone into a winner. The book explains how to make people feel good by giving them lots of positive feedback, especially at the beginning, until they have mastered the skills necessary to perform well. This will often lead them to "praise themselves" for good performance, leading to better and better performance over time. One Minute Reprimands should only be used if the person knows what good performance looks like, has demonstrated they know how, but does not perform up to their ability. On page 46 they describe the common "Leave alone zap" method of training and management, and explained how dumb it is.

Let me say this: The entire book is less than a 2-hour read. You should read the whole thing yourself. Just let this serve as a primer, and maybe later as a reminder, of these awesome management strategy and these awesome techniques.

One Minute Goal Setting…

…is simply:

  1. Agree on your goals.

  2. Define what good behavior or performance looks like.

  3. Write goals on 1-page, less than 250 words.

  4. Read and re-read each goal, often (it takes one minute).

  5. Regularly take a minute to look at your performance.

  6. See if your performance matches your goal (compare performance to plan).

One Minute Praising…


…works well when you:

  1. Tell people up front that you're 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 Reprimands…

…work well when you:

  1. Tell people up front that you're going to let them know how they are doing, and in no uncertain terms.
    The first part 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 part of the reprimand:

  6. Shake hands or touch people in a way that lets them know you are honestly on their side.

  7. Remind them how much you value them.

  8. Reaffirm you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation.

  9. Realize that when the reprimand is over, it's over.

Important Quotes

“People who feel good about themselves produce good results"

"Help people reach their full potential. Catch them doing something right."

" The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people"

"Feedback is the breakfast of champions"

"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."

"We are not just our behavior. We are the person managing our behavior."

"Goals begin behaviors. Consequences maintain behaviors."

Further Reading

  • Putting the One Minute Manager to Work” by Kenneth H. Blanchard, Ph.D., & Robert Lorber

  • The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey” by Hal Burrows, Kenneth H. Blanchard, Ph.D., & William Oncken”

  • Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey? by William Oncken, Jr. & Donald L. Wass, Harvard Business Review