Secrets of the One Minute Manager

Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have written the best seller, The One Minute manager. This book has sold over a million copies. It deals with the search for the best management techniques by a young man, who finally discovers a One Minute manager. The One Minute Manager tells him about the three secrets and more. You can read my summary of the book here.

The three secrets revealed in the One Minute Manager can be used in our professional life. Here is my interpretation of the same.

One Minute Goal Setting

This is the first secret revealed in the book, The One Minute Manager. This deals with setting clear expectations between the manager and his team member. Often the team member is clueless of what is expected from him. The manager does not specify what exactly a win is. The team member does not know what good behavior in his specific context is. He does not have a goal. So, the One minute manager recommends the following steps:

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

The Goal setting helps establish a contract. From what I have read, a written goal, as opposed to just having it in mind, is one of the most effective ways to imprint the goal in our mind. It enhances certain neural pathways that help us in the longer term to achieve the goal. Then reading and re-reading the goal helps one remain focused. Often, due to various distractions in our daily life, we loose track of our goals. This is where reading and re-reading helps us. Now, it has to be within 250 words so that you can read it faster. Had it been a 2500 words goal, one will not be willing to read it at all! Then it helps to check if our actions and behavior are leading us towards the written goals or not.
This is all about 1 minute goal. The idea is not to set goals in 1 minute. But that the goals can be reviewed in 1 minute. Also, one can use the Pareto principle for goal setting. Since 20% of our actions produce 80% of results, the goals should be focused on those 20% of actions only.

One Minute Praises

The second secret of the One Minute manager is the One Minute Praise. This is based on the belief that everyone is a potential winner. The manager should help them reach their full potential. This can be done by catching the team members early doing something right. Below are the steps that can be taken for the same.
  • ·         Tell people from the beginning that you are going to give feedback to them.
  • ·         Praise them as soon as they do something right.
  • ·         Tell them exactly what they did right.
  • ·         Tell them how good you feel about what they did right and how it helps everyone
  • ·         Stop for a moment of silence to let the good feeling  sink in.
  • ·         Encourage them to do more of the same behavior.
  • ·         Shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success

Please note that one of the step is to have a moment of silence, after you praise. This lets the feeling sink in. This is a psychological technique to win people over. The other one is a light touch on the hand or shoulder. It is incredibly effective and I have seen one of my supervisor use this technique to win over the team members. But if you are going to use it, be sure that you are authentic and it should not be construed as acting.

Praising someone reinforces the right behavior. This is the method that Pavlov used on his dog in his famous experiment. This is the technique used by parents to encourage their child to walk or learn new words. We do it instinctively in social and family setup. But how this technique is to be used in a professional setup is something many are not aware of. If used correctly, this technique will reap rich dividends in terms of developing your team.

One Minute Reprimand

The third secret is One Minute Reprimand. This is needed in order to rectify incorrect or improper behavior. There are 2 parts to it. As soon as you catch someone doing something wrong, you have to give the feedback on the behavior. That is the first part. After that, you should also support the person so that he understands that the behavior is  undesired, but not the person. The basic steps are listed below.
     Set the expectation with your people that you are going to give them direct feedback

    The first part – Reprimand:
  • ·         Reprimand people immediately when they do a mistake.
  • ·         Tell them specifically what they did wrong.
  • ·         Tell them how you feel about what they did wrong.
  • ·         Stop for a moment of uncomfortable silence to let the feeling sink in
  • The second part – The support:
  • ·         Shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are with them.
  • ·         Remind them how much you value them as a person.
  • ·         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

Most of the time, the feedback is not given immediately. It is given at the time of appraisal. At that time, it is too late for the team member to change. Also, we forget that we should hate the sin, not the sinner. Too often, it is the sinner who is punished!

These are the 3 secrets of the One minute manager. Easy to say, easy to remember but difficult to practice! 

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