Save Time with a One Minute Approach to Management

July 21, 2022 Ken Blanchard

How can managers in today’s workplace climate be more productive with their time? Does everyone need to get a degree in time management to keep their work from taking over their life?

We all know today’s managers are facing responsibilities and challenges no manager has faced before. They have to accomplish their own goals while supervising and supporting people located across town or across the globe. They must get more done in less time with fewer people on staff and more obstacles and distractions than ever.

These challenges made me think about an old friend of mine: the One Minute Manager. Spencer Johnson and I first introduced him in our bestselling book back in 1982. One of the first things readers notice about the One Minute Manager is that he has lots of time available in his schedule to meet with people. That would seem like quite a luxury today! How does he do it? Let’s take a look.

Our book begins with a bright young man who is looking for a “special kind of manager” who can work side by side with people to achieve great results and work/life balance. He hears about the One Minute Manager and calls to arrange a meeting with him and learn his secrets.

At their first meeting, the young man asks the Manager to describe himself:

“I’m a One Minute Manager.”

The young man’s face showed surprise. “You’re a what?”

The Manager laughed and said, “They call me that because it takes very little time for me and my team to get good results.”

Although the young man had spoken with many managers, he had never heard one talk like this. It was hard to believe—someone who gets good results without taking a lot of time.

One Minute Goals

As the story continues, the Manager sends the young man to meet with people from his team so that he can see firsthand how the Manager gets results. The first team member he meets, Teresa Lee, says this about the Manager’s style:

“It’s amazing how well it works. I’m still surprised at how little time he needs to spend with me since I’ve learned how to do my job.”

“Is that true?”

“You’d better believe it is. I hardly ever see him now.”

“You mean you don’t get any help from him?” asked the young man.

“Not as much as I did when I started. Although he does spend time with me at the beginning of a new task or responsibility. That’s when he and I set our One Minute Goals.”

Teresa teaches the young man the basic steps of the First Secret of the One Minute Manager, One Minute Goals:

  1. Plan the goals together with each person and describe them briefly and clearly. Show the person what good performance looks like.
  2. Have them write out each of their goals, with due dates, on a single page.
  3. Ask them to review their most important goals each day, which takes only a few minutes to do.
  4. Encourage them to take a minute to look at what they’re doing to see if their behavior matches their goals.
  5. If their behavior doesn’t match their goals, encourage them to re-think what they are doing so they can realize their goals.

When the young man left Teresa Lee, he rose to shake her hand:

“Thank you so much for your time.”

 “You’re welcome. Time is one thing I have a lot more of now. As you can probably tell, I’m becoming a New One Minute Manager myself.”

One Minute Praisings

After meeting the young man, the second team member, Paul Trenell, said:

“My boss at the last place I worked was a micromanager, but the One Minute Manager doesn’t believe in that style.”

“You mean you don’t get help from him?”

“Not as much as I did when I was first learning. He trusts me more now. However, he spends a good amount of time with me at the beginning of a new project or responsibility.”

Paul then introduces the young man to the phrase Catch People Doing Something Right and the concept of One Minute Praisings:

“Here we put the accent on the positive by catching people doing something right, especially as they begin a new task.”

The young man made a few notes, then glanced up and asked, “So, what happens when he catches you doing something right?”

“That’s when he gives a One Minute Praising,” Paul said with delight.

“Doesn’t all this praising take up a lot of the manager’s time?” the young man asked.

“No … you don’t have to praise someone for very long for that person to know you notice how they’re doing. It usually takes less than a minute.”

 “And that’s why it’s called a One Minute Praising.”

Paul explains how the steps work for the Second Secret, One Minute Praisings:

1. Praise the person as soon as possible.

2. Let them know what they did right—be specific.

3. Tell the person how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps.

4. Pause for a moment to allow them time to feel good about what they’ve done.

5. Encourage them to do more of the same.

6. Make it clear you have confidence in them and support their success.

Just before the young man leaves, Paul gives him some words to remember:

“I know when I get a Praising, I’ve earned it. I’ve seen how it builds confidence, which turns out to be very important.”

“Why do you think that’s so important?”

“Because confidence that is earned helps you deal with all the changes that are occurring. We’re expected to be confident enough to innovate in order to stay ahead.”

 “Is that why your manager gives you the opportunity to solve a problem yourself, rather than participating in your decision?”

 “Yes. Plus, it saves a manager time. I do the same with the people on my team, so they, too, become more capable.”

One Minute Re-Directs

The final team member the young man meets, Jon Levy, talks about working for the One Minute Manager:

“One of the most remarkable things he does differently now is how he responds to us when we’ve done something wrong.”

 “When you do something wrong? I thought a key motto around here was ‘Catch People Doing Something Right.’”

 “You need to know I’ve been working here for a good while and I know this operation inside and out. As a result, my Manager doesn’t have to spend much time with me on One Minute Goals or Praisings.

“If I or someone on my team makes a significant mistake, that’s when I may get a One Minute Re-Direct.”

Jon shares with the young man the steps of the Third Secret, One Minute Re-Directs. First, make sure you’ve made the goal clear. If it isn’t, take responsibility for that, and clarify the goal. If the goal is clear:

1. Re-Direct the person as soon as possible.

2. Confirm the facts first, and review the mistake together—be specific.

3. Express how you feel about the mistake and its impact on results.

4. Be quiet for a moment to allow the person time to feel concerned about what they’ve done.

5. Remember to let them know that they’re better than their mistake, and that you think well of them as a person.

6. Remind them that you have confidence and trust in them, and support their success.

7. Realize that when the Re-Direct is over, it’s over.

When the young man went back to the One Minute Manager, he was excited to report what he had learned. Toward the end of their conversation, the young man said:

“I hope I’m not being rude with this question, but do you really think it takes only a minute to do all the things you need to do as a manager?”

The Manager laughed. “Of course not. But it’s a way to make a complicated job more manageable. It often takes only a minute to refocus on goals and give people important feedback on how they’re doing.

“Using the Three Secrets probably represents only 20% of the activities we engage in, yet they help us achieve 80% of the outcome we’re looking for. It’s the old 80/20 law.”

If you are thinking that the Three Secrets sound simple, you’re right—they are. But remember, simple doesn’t mean simplistic. Our manager has time on his hands because he’s put seemingly simple ideas into practice. He works side by side with his people to set goals, he praises them when he catches them doing something right, and he redirects them when they get off track.

We could all use more time in our busy work lives—especially if we are responsible for directing and supporting the work of others in our organizations. Consider how the Three Secrets of the One Minute Manager could help you find that extra minute to bring out the best in others!

About the Author

Ken Blanchard

Dr. Ken Blanchard is the cofounder and Chief Spiritual Officer of Blanchard®, an international management training and consulting firm. Ken is the coauthor of The One Minute Manager, as well as 65 other books with combined sales totaling more than 21 million copies.

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