The One-Minute Manager by Blanchard, Kenneth


Abstract- The credo of the one-minute manager rests on the implementation of three ideas, namely: the need to establish clear-cut goals, the need to praise good performance, and the need to reprimand people when their performance fails to contribute to the attainment of commonly agreed goals. This three basic ideas are known as the three secrets of the one-minute manager, namely: one-minute goals, one-minute praisings and one-minute reprimands.

The First Secret: One-Minute Goals. All good performance starts with clear goals. If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. This is about as fundamental as God, mother and apple pie. If we were going to improve the performance of people all over this country, the simplest and easiest way would be to make sure people have clear goals.

I had breakfast recently with Lou Holtz, the head coach for Notre Dame. Holtz showed me a little book he had for himself and for each of his players where everyone sets individuals goals in addition to some team goals each season. I asked him why he used these books and he responded, "Of all my experiences in managing people, the power of goal setting is the most incredible."

It is amazing how often people are told about the power of goal setting, yet how few times there is agreement between what a person says their job involves and what their manager says it involves. Goals still tend to be set in organizations after someone does something wrong or doesn't do what is expected. Then the goal is made clear.

The secret of One-Minute Goals is simply to agree on your goals upfront so that you know what good behavior looks like. Make sure you write out each of your goal on a single sheet of paper or index card. Limit the number of goals to three to five. Identify what the present level of performance is on each goal and then what level is desired. The discrepancy between the actual and the desired goal becomes the area for improvement. Choose a deadline for reaching that new level. Make several copies of your goals for home and work so you can refer to them daily. Look at your goals, then look at your behavior and see if your behavior matches your goals.

The Second Secret: One-Minute Praisings. Of all the things I've taught over the years, I can't say enough about the importance of praising. The key to developing people will always be to concentrate on catching them doing something right instead of something wrong. Yet most people are still managed by being basically left alone until they make a mistake that's noticeable and then their boss criticizes them. I call that a "leavealone zap" management style or "Sea gull management." Sea gull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, and then fly out.

Tell people upfront that you are going to let them know how they are doing. Then there are three main things you need to emphasize with praisings. First, be immediate. Don't save praisings for a holiday. Second, be specific. Just saying to someone, "good job," is nice but it is not very helpful because they do not know specifically what is good so that they could do it again. Third, share your feelings about their work. Tell people how good you feel about what they did that was right, and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there. Stop for a moment of silence to let them enjoy "feeling" how good you feel. End with a reaffirmation and encourage them to keep up the good work.

Remember to praise progress even if it is only approximately right. Perfect behavior is a journey that happens one step at a time. A manager's job is to manage the progress toward the goal. A good manager thus constantly looks for opportunities to praise progress or to redirect.

The Third Secret: One-Minute Reprimands. What do you do when people do not perform well or make limited or no progress toward their goals? You have to hold them accountable.

The first alternative for poor performance should be redirection, which means going back to goal setting trying to find out what went wrong and getting them back on track. Never reprimand or punish a learner -- you'll immobilize them. If you are dealing with somebody who knows better, who as performed a similar task well in the past, then a One-Minute Reprimand might be appropriate.

Tell people beforehand that you are going to let them know -- in no uncertain terms how they are doing. Reprimand people immediately. Tell people exactly how you feel about what they did wrong. Pause to help your transition from your feelings to set-up the last and probably the most important part of a reprimand: reaffirmation. Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation. Your intent is to get them back on course, not to try to make them feel badly. Remind them how much you value them. Realize that when the reprimand is over, it's over.

One of my favorite statements of late is from Dan Ferguson, chairman of the board of the Newell Company, a billion dollar manufacturing company in the home supply field. He told me he is most effective as a manager when he thinks of himself as the sixth man on a basketball team. When they want to call him into the game he is happy to play, but if they don't need him he is also happy to stay on the sidelines and cheer.

To me, the Three Secrets can help you be the coach in the workplace, at home or on the playing field. Share the secrets with your people, use them as needed and get your people to use them as well. You'll all perform better as a result.

The full book "The One-Minute Manager"