3 Key Lessons We Can Learn From the One Minute Manager


January 9, 2019   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

one minute manager review

Managing people isn’t that easy. You have to know the right things to do if you want to bring out the best in them.

The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson is a remarkable book about management. It is about a young man who is in search of an effective manager and is willing to work for one.


In his search, he meets some ‘autocratic’ managers who are only concerned about the results. Their organizations gained while their people lost. He also meets ‘democratic’ managers who are concerned only about the people. Their people gained while their organizations lost. He was looking for an effective manager who was interested in the people as well as the results so that both the people and the organization gained in his management.

Then the young man comes across a manager who calls himself “the one minute manager” as it took very little time for him to get big results from people. The one minute manager shares the secrets of his success with the young man, which are as follows:

First Secret: One Minute Goals

writing accomplishment journal

One minute goal setting is about being aware of what is expected from the beginning. When deciding upon the desired goal and the performance standards, you record it on a single sheet of paper. It’s named that way because each goal should only take a minute to read.

Why One Minute Goals work

One minute goal setting is an important tool for management because it provides immediate feedback to the worker. This feedback turns into motivation.

If you are playing football and you are not aware of how many points you scored, you would lose interest in the game after a certain point. On the other hand, if you know you need 5 points to win and you have scored 3 points, you will try your best to get the other 2 points.

Unless you are sure of what is it that you need to do, you keep beating around the bush without producing the accurate results.

Say, for example, if I ask you to clean the room. You would not know whether to sweep the room, place everything in order, arrange the books in the shelf or do all the three. On the other hand, if I ask you to sweep the room and arrange the books, you know exactly what you need to do. As a result, both you and me are satisfied with the job.

One minute goals work in a similar manner. Both the employee as well as the employer knows what is expected from the beginning of a task. Writing is important so that you can periodically review your performance against your target and check your progress.

Thus, one minute goals help you to perform better and produce efficient results.

Second Secret: One Minute Praising

After the one minute goal setting, the second step in one minute management is to catch people doing something right. This is when the one minute praising are given. One minute praising are so called because it hardly takes a minute for you to tell someone that he or she did a good job.

There is no need to elaborate when you can simply say that he or she he did something good and you noticed it. One minute praising include praising the people immediately, telling them what they did right, sharing how you feel about it, and encouraging them to do more of the same.

Why One Minute Praisings work

Let’s consider a very simple example.

A child does not learn to walk straight away. When you teach a child to walk, you don’t expect him to start walking as soon as he stands up. He first toddles, and then he tries to stand up and falls in the first few attempts. Then, he wobbles a few steps and you cuddle him and hug him. You started making him feel that he has done something worth praising. He then tries to do more of the same and finally learns to walk.

In the same way, one minute praising is a way of encouraging your staff.

One minute praising show that you are genuinely interested in your people and care for them and their success. One minute praising aim at catching people ‘doing something right’ rather than catching them ‘doing something wrong’.

Although the two might seem to be the same thing, there is a lot of difference. If you emphasize on catching people doing something wrong, their main aim is simply to do no wrong, not necessarily go above and beyond and produce great results. This produces mediocrity because everyone will tend to walk the middle line.

For exceptional results, you need your people to put in their best.

Third Secret: One Minute Reprimands

One minute reprimands are given as soon as an employee does something wrong. One minute reprimand has two parts:

The first half includes telling the people that what they did wrong, how you feel about it, and then let it sink in with a few seconds of uncomfortable silence. Then, in the second half you tell the people how much you think they are capable of and how much you value them.

One important aspect of one minute reprimands is that it criticizes the work and not the doer. The employee is not blamed as a person. Only his work is accused of not being up to the desired level. And once it’s over, it’s over.

Why One Minute Reprimands work

One minute reprimands are highly effective because the feedback is immediate. They are unlike the annual reviews where you are charged for things committed several weeks or months ago. If you were being scolded for a mistake you made 7 to 8 months back, it would hardly make any impact on you. In comparison, if you are being scolded for a mistake you made yesterday, it will surely affect you.

If a mistake is pointed out as soon as it is made, it can easily be corrected. Since one mistake is pointed at one time, the people hear it seriously and your message is easily conveyed to them.

Now that you know all the three secrets of one minute management, implement them in your work style and be a one minute manager for yourself!

Written by Manish Pandey, a tech-enthusiast and blogs about social media and technology at manishpandey.com.


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