Management & Leadership

The One Minute Manager

The One Minute Manager

Summary of “The One Minute Manager: the quickest way to increase your own prosperity” by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson: This book reveals, in the form of a story featuring the One Minute Manager, three secrets to becoming an effective manager, capable of increasing his productivity and the profits of his company while contributing to the fulfilment of his employees.

By Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, Eyrolles Publishing, 2015, 130 pages

Chronicle and summary of “The One Minute Manager: The quickest way to increase your own prosperity” by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson:

Part 1. A short update from the authors before starting the story

1.1 – Who are the authors of the “The One Minute Manager”?

  • Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is known as one of the world’s most influential specialists in leadership and management.

In fact, Ken Blanchard:

    • Is the author and co-author of 60 other books with total sales of more than 21 million copies, including the mythical bestseller “The One Minute Manager”. His books have been translated into more than 42 languages. In 2005, Amazon officially inducted him as one of the 25 best-selling authors of all time.
    • Is the co-founder of the international consulting and training firm “The Ken Blanchard Companies ®” and of Lead Like Jesus, an international organization that helps leaders become “servant leaders”.
    • Has received numerous awards and honours for his contributions in the areas of management, leadership and speaking.
  • Spencer Johnson

Spencer Johnson is considered one of the most widely read authors in the world. Nicknamed “the king of the parable” by the newspaper USA Today, Spencer Johnson is known as a master in the art of presenting simple and effective solutions to the most complex subjects.

His books, always short, share practical ideas and tools that millions of people around the world use (more than 50 million copies sold, translated into 47 languages) to be happier and to succeed without stress. Many are bestsellers, including “Who’s been stealing my cheese? How to adapt to change” and “The One Minute Manager”, which he wrote with Ken Blanchard.

1.2 – The new approach of The One Minute Manager

The One Minute Manager is a book that was written in 1987. However, over the last few decades and now in the digital age, the world has changed a lot! And so has The One Minute Manager!

In fact, today’s management approach is much more collaborative and motivating. Vertical, hierarchical leadership, which was once the rule in all companies, has now given way to leadership that is more akin to a relationship where one works alongside the other.

Furthermore:

People are now looking for more fulfilment in their professional and personal lives. They want to feel committed and make a meaningful contribution. They are reluctant to spend long hours at work at the expense of their personal needs.

From then on, The One Minute Manager described by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson had to take all these upheavals into consideration over time. The One Minute Manager:

  • Understands that individuals are now the main architects of a company’s success.
  • Recognizes that attracting and retaining the best is the top priority.
  • Treats its employees accordingly.

Part 2. The story of The One Minute Manager

The three secrets that The One Minute Manager reveals in the story that follows can be implemented in our workplace, with our colleagues and partners, but also with our family and friends.

2.1 – In search of a brilliant manager…

“Once upon a time there was a bright young man who was looking for a remarkable manager…”

And so begins the fabulous story of The One Minute Manager.

Indeed, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson tell us the story of a young man who sets out in search of a brilliant manager. In fact, this young man is looking for a manager who is capable, all at the same time:

  • To be effective,
  • To increase the productivity and profits of his company,
  • And to contribute to the development of the members of his team.

In the course of his quest, the young man will eventually meet The One Minute Manager. The latter will tell him three secrets to succeed quickly and better and to become an excellent manager in our changing world.

2.2 – An obsolete system that limits innovation

  • Two types of managers

At the beginning of his quest, the young man is quickly disillusioned: he always encounters the same management methods which, in his eyes, no longer work. There are always two types of managers:

    • Those who are interested in results, often referred to as “autocrats”,
    • Those who are interested in men, often referred to as “democrats.”

In short, he realizes that most managers around the world continue to manage their teams along the same lines: they focus exclusively on results or on people, never on both at the same time.

  • Uninspiring management

Moreover, since speed is now inseparable from success, it is much more efficient to collaborate than to give orders and verify their application, as in the old hierarchical system.

Indeed, for the young man, it could work before, in a hierarchical company. But today this kind of structure is much too slow. According to him, “it doesn’t inspire people and it stifles innovation.”

2.3 – Results or people? Both!

  • Helping people feel good increases productivity tenfold

According to Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, in order to succeed faster and better, managers must focus as much on results as on people.

In the story, this is one of the keys to the success of the central character, the “One Minute Manager”. He insists on this:

How do you want to achieve results other than through men? I see them as inseparable and I care as much about each other.

Then he adds:

When do you work best? When you feel good about yourself or when you’re not?

In short, you are much more efficient when you feel good, you get good results. Therefore, helping people feel good increases their productivity tenfold.

  • Quality as much as quality

On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that productivity is not only a question of the quantity of work provided but also a question of quality. Indeed, if we do not offer customers a quality product and the service they expect, we are likely to close down. The best way to achieve these good results is with people.

2.4 – Who is The One Minute Manager?

After multiple disappointments (Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson finally mention everything they think should not/no longer be done), the young man in the story ends up meeting the new Manager Minute.

But who is he? First of all, The One Minute Manager explains being called that because he and his team have found new ways to achieve great results in a very short period of time.

How is that possible? Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson reveal the three secrets that make this possible.

Part 3. First secret of The One Minute Manager: The Minute Goals

Setting Minute Goals is the first secret to success as a manager.

The One Minute Manager Ken Blanchard

In fact, Quick Goals are objectives that meet the points below.

3.1- Objectives established with the manager

In most companies, when you ask people what they do and then ask their manager the same question, you often get different answers. This does not happen with The One Minute Manager because he takes the trouble to clearly specify with each of his employees the tasks and responsibilities they must assume:

Instead of setting goals for us, he first listens to us and then we develop them together. When we agree on the most important ones, each one is described in one page.

3.2 – An objective that can be read in just 1 minute

Once the objective and the corresponding performance standard (i.e. what is to be done and by what date) are defined together (manager and employee), it is written in a concise manner.

Each objective should be written in only one or two paragraphs. The idea, in fact, is to be able to read or review the objective in about a minute. It should be easy to consult the objectives on a regular basis and focus on the real priorities.

In this way, the superior can periodically check where the employee is in his or her goals without it taking time. On the other hand, the employee can also check whether what he or she is doing is in line with his or her objectives. And if it does not, he or she will be able to correct the situation. In the story of the “The One Minute Manager”, an employee testifies to this:

It helps us to succeed faster. We manage ourselves.

3.3 – Between three and five objectives maximum according to the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule can be summarized as follows: 80% of our truly significant results come from 20% of our objectives. It is then a matter of only setting Minute Objectives on these 20%, i.e. on the main responsibilities.

The idea is to write between three and five objectives maximum, and possibly, in case of exceptional project, to define special Minute Objectives.

To achieve these objectives, it is finally essential that the manager shows his employee what to do until he has understood and can do it himself. In this way, he or she will not need to be very involved afterwards.

3.4 – Summary of Minute Objectives

In order for the Quick Goals to work well, it is necessary to:

  • Plan them together and describe them briefly and clearly, showing what a good performance looks like.
  • Ask employees to write down each of their objectives, with the expected date of achievement, on a single page.
  • Also ask them to reread the main objectives every day, which takes only a few minutes.
  • Encourage them to take another minute to observe what they are doing and see if it is in line with their goals. If not, encourage them to make corrections so that they can achieve their goals as soon as possible.

Part 4: Second secret of The One Minute Manager: The Praise Minute

The One Minute Manager Ken Blanchard

4.1- Surprise your collaborator doing something well and congratulate him/her

Help people reach their full potential. Surprise them doing something right.

The Praise Minute consist, for the manager, in surprising, as soon as possible, his employee doing something right. Then, to congratulate him.

In the story of Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, this is how The One Minute Manager acts:

When he [The One Minute Manager] sees that you’ve done something right, he tells you exactly why it was right, and how much he enjoys it. He stops for a moment to give you time to savour the compliment, and then he reinforces the message by encouraging you to continue on this good path.

It usually takes less than a minute.

4.2 – It’s good for morale

After a while, you start surprising yourself to do something right. You congratulate yourself.

This method is very effective for employee morale because The One Minute Manager:

  • Congratulates them right away, without waiting for the annual professional assessment;
  • Specifies precisely what the employee has done right: the employee infers from this that his or her superior really knows what the employee is doing and is sincere.
  • Is consistent: he praises them even if he has personal or work problems, i.e., he reacts to the employee’s personal situation here and now, not his own.

4.3 – It gives self-confidence

Praise Minutes are very useful when the employee starts working with a manager. Afterwards, the employee normally knows that his manager has confidence in him.

There are then other ways of knowing whether the employee’s performance deserves praise: for example, by consulting data and statistics (turnover, expenditure, production planning, etc.).

When he [the manager] gives me a compliment, I know I’ve earned it. …] It gives you confidence. …The self-confidence you’ve earned helps you manage all the changes. What he wants is for each of us to be confident enough to innovate, which will keep us ahead of the pack.

4.4 – Summary of Praise Minute

In order for the Minute Praise to work properly, you have to…:

  • For the first 30 seconds:
    • Congratulate people straight away, as soon as possible.
    • Tell them very specifically what they did right.
    • Tell them how much we appreciate it and how it will help the company.
  • Take a break to give them time to savour, to be proud of what they’ve done.
  • For the next 30 seconds and the final 30 seconds:
    • Encourage them to continue.
    • To show them that you have confidence in them and a strong belief in their success.

Part 5. Third secret of The One Minute Manager: The Re-direct Minute

5.1 – The Reprimand Minute Re-direct Minute has adapted to the evolution of businesses

In the days of hierarchical business, the third secret was called the Minute Reprimand. And it was remarkably effective for its time.

The One Minute Manager Ken Blanchard

However, the context has changed a lot and The One Minute Manager has adapted it. Today, we need to do more, faster, with fewer resources.

5.2 – Minute Reframing, only if the objective was initially clear

When an employee makes a mistake, the first thing The One Minute Manager has to do is to check that the objective set together was clear and explicitly expressed:

  • If this is not the case, he assumes responsibility for it and therefore describes the objective more clearly.
  • If this is the case, it is recommended to perform a Minute Re-direct.

5.3 – The Re-direct Minute is divided into two parts

  • The first part: it deals with the employee’s error

The One Minute Manager performs this reframing on the spot, i.e. as soon as it realizes that there is a problem. He must then:

    • Tell the employee what he thinks about the mistake;
    • Talk to him about the impact it can have on the company’s results;
    • Keep silent for a few seconds to give the employee time to take the measure of his mistake and to worry about the consequences that it could have for him and the whole company.
  • The second part is about the employee as a person.

During the second part of the reframing, The One Minute Manager reminds the employee that:

    • This one’s better than that;
    • Let him continue to have confidence in himself;
    • That he believes that this mistake will not happen again and that he looks forward to continuing to work with him.

In the story told by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, this is what one employee had to say about Minute Reframing:

Reframing only takes a minute or two, and when it’s done, it’s done. But it scores, and as it ends on a positive note, we really want to correct the shot.

In fact, the goal is to help people to have confidence in themselves, so that they in turn help the manager to achieve better results.

5.4 – The errors of The One Minute Manager

The manager can obviously make mistakes himself.

It is then advised:

  • If that happens, to be the first to recognize them;
  • Ask employees themselves to tell him if they notice that he is wrong about something;
  • Practicing humour and self-mockery: it helps a lot to relax the atmosphere when we make a mistake.

Thus, the third secret completes perfectly the method of The One Minute Manager:

  • The objectives indicate precisely on which priorities efforts should be focused;
  • Praise boost the self-confidence of employees, thus promoting success;
  • Reframing helps to combat possible errors.

These three components work together to make people feel better and, as a result, achieve good results.

5.5 – Summary of The Re-direct Minute

For The Re-direct Minute to work, first check that the objective was clear, then:

  • For the first 30 seconds:
    • Act straight away, as fast as possible.
    • Start by confirming the facts, then analyse the error together, going into detail.
    • Tell how the mistake annoys us personally and what impact it can have on the results.
    • Take a break.
  • Keep silent for a moment to give our interlocutor time to become aware of the seriousness of his mistake.
  • For the next 30 seconds and the final 30 seconds:
    • Don’t forget to tell him that he is better than his mistake would lead you to believe and that we think a lot of him as a person.
    • Remind him that we trust him, believe in his success and support him.
    • When the cropping is complete, it is finished. We don’t talk about it anymore.

Part 6. Why do the three secrets of The One Minute Manager work?

In reality, the three secrets account for only about 20% of the company’s business, but they help achieve 80% of the expected results. This is the famous 80/20 law.

6.1- Why does it work to set Quick Targets?

For The One Minute Manager, there are three reasons for this:

  • Results are the main source of motivation

How many people would watch two teams play each other if there was no way to keep score?

The first thing that motivates people is to know the results. They want to know what they’re worth. Minute Goals are a good way to measure results on a regular basis.

The Minute Objectives serve as feedback in the evolution of his work. And for Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson:

Feedback is the breakfast of champions. It’s the feedback that keeps you going.

  • An effective tool for winners (or potential winners)

Everybody’s a potential winner. Some of them are dressed as losers. Don’t be fooled by their appearance.

According to Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, when recruiting for an employee job, as a manager, you have three options:

    • The first is to choose only the best: but those are hard to find and expensive;
    • The second, if no “winner” has been found, is to recruit a person who has the potential to become one, and then systematically help him or her to become one;
    • If neither the first nor the second option is to be applied, only the third possibility remains: prayer!

Minute Objectives are an essential tool for the “winner” or “potential winner”. They generally create productive behavior simply by suggesting that they regularly review the alignment between their current work and their goals:

Take a minute to look at your goals. Then look at what you’re doing and see if it fits.

6.2 – Why do Praise Minutes work so well?

Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson invite us to imagine parents teaching their children to walk:

Let’s start with parents struggling to teach their toddler to walk. You can imagine them standing up and telling him, “Walk!”. And when he falls down, they lift him up and spank him, saying, “I told you to walk! “? That’s not how you do it. You put the child on his feet, the first day, he takes a step, staggering a little, and everyone, very excited, exclaims: “He took a step, he took a step!” We take him in our arms, we kiss him, we celebrate. The next day he takes maybe two or three steps, and his parents’ enthusiasm is unleashed again. Finally, the toddler realizes that it’s a good deal and gets up more and more often, until one day he ends up really walking. The same thing happens when he learns to talk.

This example shows that the most natural and effective strategy to help people become “winners” is to catch them doing something pretty well in the beginning. Then, you gradually get closer to the desired result.

At work, as in life, it is, in fact, useless to repeat this step very often, because the good ones realize by themselves that they are doing the right thing. Nevertheless, at the learning stage, praise and encouragement are very helpful.

As for the punishment, it doesn’t work according to Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson:

It doesn’t work in the classroom. Instead of punishing inexperienced people who are still learning their trade, they need to be re-directd.

6.3 – Why are Re-direct Minutes effective?

  • By spotting what is wrong very quickly, feedback is given in small doses.

Many managers give delayed feedback: in fact, they accumulate negative observations, and when it finally comes time for the evaluation interview, “they are usually angry because the cup overflows”:

Accumulating negative feelings about the weaknesses of one’s employees in this way is neither fair nor effective.

This is why Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson find it much more sensible that performance evaluation be done continuously and not just once a year.

  • You want to eliminate the behaviour (which is bad), but you want to keep the person (which is good).

When people are on the defensive, they don’t learn anything.

Obviously, the goal is not to demolish people, but to help them build themselves up.

For this, it is essential to separate their behaviour from their personal value.

When you lead men, it is very important to never forget that behaviour and value are not the same thing.

Specifically, for Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson:

It’s more than just our behaviour. We are the person who behaves this way or that way.

Therefore, reaffirming the self-worth of one’s collaborator after dealing with the problem allows one to focus on behaviour without attacking the person. After this clarification, the employee should assess the seriousness of what he or she has done and be concerned about it, rather than turning to a colleague to complain or tell him or her how badly he or she feels about you. Without this awareness, the person does not take responsibility for his or her mistake and the manager becomes the bad guy.

  • A “tough and nice” manager, not “nice and tough.”

Some people, when I think about it, say I’m a nice, tough manager. But, to be more specific, I’m actually tough and nice.

Through the words of The One Minute Manager character in their story, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson stress that being “hard then nice” is quite different from being “nice then hard”.

To illustrate this idea, they tell us a tale of ancient China. This is the story of an emperor who decides to share his tasks with his Prime Minister in the following way: the Prime Minister would punish, the emperor would reward.

Over time, however, the emperor noticed that when he asked someone to do something, sometimes the person sometimes did it or sometimes not. With the Prime Minister, on the other hand, everyone obeys. With this in mind, the emperor decides to exchange roles with his prime minister: thus, the emperor punishes and the prime minister rewards. But barely a month after changing functions, a revolt broke out…

Why? The One Minute Manager explains very easily what happened:

The emperor had been a nice man, handing out rewards, being kind to everyone and suddenly he began to punish. “But what’s wrong with that old fool?” people thought. And they got rid of him without much ado. When they looked for a replacement, they thought the Prime Minister had made great progress. So they took him as emperor.

In conclusion, the moral of the story is this:

If you start by treating the behaviour severely and then show that you support the person, it works better.

  • A Concrete Example of a Re-direct Minute

Outside the business world, according to Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, Minute Reframing is used by many sports coaches who are looking to improve their athletes’ performance.

As an example, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson tell us the story of a basketball coach who used The Re-direct Minute effectively:

In an extremely important match, the best player in the team plays so badly that the team risks defeat and elimination without even making it to the championship.

The coach then makes a crucial and difficult decision: despite the stakes of the match, he takes the player out.

The One Minute Manager Ken Blanchard

Once the player is out of the field, the coach says to the player:

You’re missing easy shots, you’re not catching any rebounds, and you’re dragging on defence. I’m mad at you, it’s like you don’t even try!” He waited a moment and then added, “You are better than that. Stay on the bench until you’re ready to play the way you can.” After what seemed like an eternity, the player got up, went to the coach and told him he was ready to start again. “So get back on the field and show me what you can do.

When he resumes the match, the basketball player starts playing in such an incredible way that the team ends up winning the match hands down!

In fact, all the coach did was apply the simple method of the Re-direct Minute: explain to the player what is wrong, tell him what he thinks about it and finally remind him that it is better than that. In other words, his performance is bad, but the person is not. We continue to trust him.

  • What if the employee has learned, but refuses to work properly?

For The One Minute Manager, the purpose of a Re-direct Minute is to help people learn. However, when a person has learned something and shown that he or she is capable of doing it, but refuses to do it, then you have to look at the cost to the company and ask yourself if you can afford to keep them on the team.

  • A quote to summarize the effectiveness of the Re-direct Minute

Sometimes you have to like people enough to be tough on them – I mean, tough on a disappointing performance, not on the person. As I’m sure you know, it’s not about making mistakes. But not learning from them is what creates the real problems.

Part 7. The end of the story of The One Minute Manager: the brilliant manager has been found!

Coming to the end of the story of Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, we now know:

  • Who is this “famous” new One Minute Manager?
  • What are the three secrets he holds to succeed quickly and well in his management role,
  • Why these three rules are effective.

As for the young man in the story, in search of his brilliant manager, we can see him happy to have finally found, in the character of the new One Manager Minute, the efficient manager he was looking for, concerned about both results and people.

Finally, at the end of his quest, the young man draws two conclusions from all he has learned:

  • The employees of The One Minute Manager work with him and not for him
  • The effective way he has to lead his department and manage his people is very simple and can be summarized in a few lines:

He would keep things simple, set Minute Goals, award Praise Minutes, do Re-direct Minutes. He asked short but important questions; told the simple truth; laughed, worked, loved what he did. And, perhaps most importantly, not only did he manage, but he encouraged people to be creative and to do new things.

Part 8. Becoming a One Minute Manager

8.1 – Roadmap to become a One Minute Manager

At the end of the story of Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, the young man in search of an effective manager creates a “roadmap” to help transform an ordinary manager into a One Minute Manager.

Here’s the roadmap:

8.2 – The joy of being a One Minute Manager

According to Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, to become a new Minute Manager is to have:

  • Time to think, organize and give your business the kind of help it really needs;
  • Availability to devote time to family and other interests;
  • Time to relax and less stress than most;
  • Fewer costly personnel problems, less sick leave and absenteeism.

Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson advise not to wait until you feel you are ready to do it perfectly before you start using Minute Management.

The most important thing is to be honest with your team members and to recognise that you are not always sure you are doing the right thing: when people understand from the outset that their manager is genuinely on their side, it makes all the difference.

The minute I invest in people is the minute I invest in people.

Book critique of “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson:

The three secrets summarized

To sum up, the ideas that can be found in The One Minute Manager are the following, according to the authors:

  • You and your team set Minute Goals together to make sure everyone knows what they will be held accountable for and what you consider good performance.
  • Then, when you catch someone doing something right, you give them a Praise Minute.
  • And, when you realize that a mistake has been made, its author benefits from a Re-direct Minute.

The essentials of management in a short and accessible book

Thus, at the end of this book, one cannot help but find these three rules extremely basic. But in the end, isn’t it better to know how to apply three simple management tips rather than none at all, for want of ever being able to put in place another method that is denser but too complex and tedious?

The new Manager Minute is a book that is accessible to everyone, fast and easy to read. The authors go straight to the point. Using a story helps the reader to better remember the advice given. It also helps to visualize, in a pleasant way, how to implement them in a situation.

Perfect for beginning managers!

Even if these three secrets are basic, they are relevant. They can therefore be very useful for managers and entrepreneurs who are just starting out. As Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson tell us, these three essential rules meet the 80/20 principle: they correspond to 20% of the manager’s activities but provide 80% of the results.

However, for those who are looking for training beyond that, it seems to me that it is really necessary to continue with other readings that address all the other dimensions of management (human resources policy, conflict management, organisation and coordination of services, digital management, business plan, etc.).

Strong Points:

  • A quick, easy and enjoyable read that brings together the essentials for beginning managers and entrepreneurs;
  • The story, in the form of a short story, is an excellent method to retain the stated management rules and to see how they can be put into practice in the reality of the company.
  • The prospect of already being able to considerably improve its management with these three easy to implement keys.

Weak Points:

  • Simplicity of tone and content can sometimes give a utopian view of the complexity that is, in reality, leading people.

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