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THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER [Increase productivity, profits and your own prosperity] By Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson Harper Collins Publishers, 2004 ISBN 0-00-710792-7   In The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard (Ph.D.) and Spencer Johnson (M.D) take on the formidable task of imparting valuable lessons on good management and productivity in an informal, easy-to-read manner and in this they succeed brilliantly. The One Minute Manager tells the story of a young man who set out to find an effective manager and learn what made this person tick. In the initial stages of his search, he meets the two most common kinds: the hardnosed, realistic, profit-minded “Tough Autocrat” and the participative, supportive, humanistic “Nice Democrat”, neither of whom were achieving impressive results. They were both partially effective as if they each were half a manager. Then one day, the young man heard about an effective manager and decided to seek him out. The events that ensued changed his life forever. This self-professed One Minute Manager encouraged the young man to learn more about his management style by talking to his staff and went ahead to give him three names. These three members of staff each took their turn in sharing with the young man the Three Secrets of One Minute Management.

Mr. Trenell: One Minute Goal Setting

This employee explained to the young man that the One Minute Manager took out time at the beginning of each new task or responsibility to outline what exactly was required from the employee in charge, and to define good performance clearly. This was done on a single sheet of paper that took no more than one minute to read. After this, the employee would be left alone to handle the task. This gives the reader an important clue as to why the One Minute Manager is so effective. In today’s business world, managers are usually either micromanagers standing over their employees’ shoulders or distant demigods who seem to show up only when it’s time to punish poor performance. The One Minute Manager is neither of these, and he doesn’t solve problems for his employees either. He simply shows new employees how to solve problems, so that they can do this on their own from then on. If you have ever worked in an environment where employees seem unable to handle tasks without their manager’s presence, you immediately understand how this healthy approach can build competence and confidence. And as one of the plaques in the office read, “PEOPLE WHO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES PRODUCE GOOD RESULTS”

Mr. Levy: One Minute Praisings

The second secret struck me as rather simple, especially considering its effectiveness. This employee explained that the One Minute Manager spent time monitoring a new employee’s every move and taking note of their every step. Like the young man, I distrusted his motives for doing this. It was reminiscent of a commonly held view of God; watching you closely, ready to pounce and punish as soon as a mistake is detected. So you can imagine my great surprise when I found out his motive. He was simply trying to catch the employee doing something right, at which point he would deliver a One Minute Praising, which is basically giving crystal clear feedback that lets your employee know what they are doing right, and let them feel your joy. Furthermore, each employee is soon made aware of what the Manager is doing and this prevents them from feeling manipulated. Expectedly, it also increases their productivity. After all, who doesn’t enjoy affirmation and positive feedback?

Ms. Brown: The One Minute Reprimand

This entails taking a minute to let an employee know when they have done something wrong, and allowing them to feel your annoyance, frustration or whatever you’re feeling. At Ms. Brown’s office, we learn that it’s not at all counter-productive if carried out properly and with an employee who has been at their job for some time and is good at it. Many young executives are familiar with the work environment where their managers store up negative feelings about their performance and then one day, a speech about what they’ve been doing wrong for the past weeks or months comes tumbling out. This is what the One Minute Reprimand seeks to avoid. In fact, there is an art to it;
  • Do it as soon as the employee does something wrong
  • Specify exactly what they did wrong
  • Don’t attack them as a person, only their behavior, that way it’s easier for them not to get defensive, try to rationalize their behaviour or blame someone else
A well rounded One Minute Reprimand must include all of the above. This book highlights the fact that much of poor business performance is the result of poorly managed people. It also clearly shows why punishment is ineffective when used on someone who lacks confidence or is insecure because of lack of experience. Of course, there is more to each of these “secrets” than can be shared in this review. In fact, this book is a useful tool not just for people who want to become better managers at work, but for home managers as well. These secrets are as effective in the home as they are in the work place, leading to balance and increase productivity at both ends. Young executives who aren’t fortunate to have a One Minute Manager can also apply these secrets in personal leadership, learning to effectively manage themselves and boost their own performance. What I loved most about this book is the fact that it is awash with examples, stories and analogies. So many deep and valuable lessons and points and yet it never felt heavy and I never got bored. Following the young man through this remarkable journey is an experience every executive, young or old, can relate to. In fact, I was laughing out loud at certain places, yet all the while getting seriously educated.  That’s the power of a story. Long live the allegory!

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This article was first published on 20th June 2018 and updated on June 21st, 2018 at 3:54 pm


Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

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