Effective Managing Techniques: The One-Minute Manager

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's hard to imagine, but once upon a time, “managerial best practices” were a foreign concept. Management in itself was not an area of focus and improvement. In 1982, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson wrote The One Minute Manager, a short book that revolutionized the way people thought about the skills and effort needed to be a good manager.

Just like any other business book that has stood the test of time, its principles are so ingrained that they are often taken for granted. That's why it's important to pull the book off the shelf occasionally and refresh yourself on the principles introduced. In this case, the examples and practices are over 30 years old, but are just as relevant today as they were back when the book was published.

The book itself is constructed as the fictional story of a young man on a search for an effective manager. He travels the world, dividing the managers he meets into two categories:

Autocratic Mangers: Dictatorial, hard-charging, and profit-focused managers

Democratic Managers: Supportive, friendly, and people-focused managers

In his experiences, the autocratic managers led their companies to optimal profits, but at the expense of high-turnover and miserable employees. On the other hand, the democratic managers had much happier employees, but their companies often struggled in comparison to the competitors. Neither managerial style could be truly called “effective.”

Finally, the young man meets an “effective manager,” one that balances the needs of the company and its employees. When asked to share his secrets, he offers three “one minute” managerial techniques:

One-Minute Goal Setting: Ensuring everyone knows the goals and what is expected

    • Agree on goals.
    • Show what good behavior looks like.
    • Write out each goal on a single page using less than 250 words.
    • Read and re-read each goal, which takes only a minute or so each time.
    • Take a minute every once in a while out of your day to look at your performance, and
    • See whether or not your behavior matches your goal.

One-Minute Praise: Reinforce positive behavior 

    • Tell people right from the start that you are going to let them know how they are doing.
    • Praise them immediately.
    • Tell people what exactly they did right–be specific.
    • Tell people how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there.
    • Stop for a moment of silence to let them feel how good you feel.
    • Encourage them to do more of the same.
    • Shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success in the organization.

One Minute Reprimand: Correct negative behavior in a positive manner

    • Tell people beforehand that you are going to let them know how they are doing an in no uncertain terms.
    • Reprimand people immediately.
    • Tell people what they did wrong–-be specific.
    • Tell people how you feel about what they did wrong–-and in no uncertain terms.
    • Stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them feel how you feel.
    • Shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are honestly on their side.
    • Remind them how much you value them.
    • Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation.
    • Realize that when the reprimand is over, it’s over.

The One Minute Manager can provide guidance to improve your skills and results for current managers and those who aspire to become one.

Even if these techniques seem like common-sense, reviewing this information often ensures you are properly practicing effective management skills.


photo credit: Mancha Extraña via photopin cc

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