The One Minute Manager Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The One Minute Manager gives managers three simple tools, which each take 60 seconds or less, but can tremendously improve how they do their job: getting people to stay motivated, happy and deliver great work.

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The One Minute Manager Summary

Ken Blanchard and and Spencer Johnson are legends on their own already. Blanchard is known for ‘Raving Fans’ and Johnson has found mega-success with ‘Who Moved My Cheese?‘ So when the two of them teamed up to publish The One Minute Manager in 1982, great things were to be expected (though neither had published their above bestseller yet).

The book has sold a staggering 13 million copies and was translated into 37 languages, maybe not in spite, but precisely because it’s just over 100 pages.

It holds three tools, 60 seconds each, which, if applied correctly, can change your management style for the better – forever. So let’s get right to it!

  1. Set three goals for each of your employees, which you can review in one minute or less.
  2. Use one minute praise to give your employees positive feedback.
  3. A one minute reprimand is more than enough to express your dissatisfaction.

Ready to become a one minute manager? 60 seconds…go!

Lesson 1: Set three goals for each of your employees, which you can review in one minute or less.

All struggles a company could ever possibly face will go back to one simple thing: communication. 99% of all problems are preventable, as long as you communicate well, honestly, openly and early.

If you’ve ever started a new job, chances are, it went like this. You arrive, you’re shown around, shake a lot of hands and try to remember at least half the names of all the new people you meet. You sit down, your new boss gives you a bunch of tasks and as soon as your email account works, it’s go time.

But nobody ever told you what you’re actually responsible for.

Imagine someone had sat down with you, right at the beginning, and together you had made a list. That’s exactly what a one minute manager does. Sit down any new co-worker, and tell them: “These are your responsibilities, and these are your goals for your first year.”

The goal is to have targets, which are so specific, that you can review them in 60 seconds or less. Keeping the 80/20 principle in mind, define three goals for them, and write each of them down in 250 words or less. For example: “I will contact at least 100 new potential vendors in the next 3 months.”

Note: The book says three to six goals, but I always vote in favor of less. Less is more.

Then let them know that you’ll be reviewing their work, for which you’ll use the following two tools.

Lesson 2: Right after an employee does a good job, take 60 seconds to praise their work.

Managers are by definition super busy. Managing people is often done on top of all their other work, even though it’s technically their primary job. This makes it easy for them to forget to tell people when they’ve done good work. Especially when responsibilities are unclear, employees tend to focus on what they haven’t yet done and can thus mostly expect negative feedback.

A good manager always makes time to tell her employees when they’ve done well, especially because it only takes 60 seconds.

Right after someone did a great job, tell them that they did well in that specific instance. For example: “Tom, you did a fantastic job fixing that broken code this morning, I can always rely on you when stuff breaks!”

If you feel it’s the right thing to do, and the employee would appreciate it, you can combine this with a physical gesture, like a thumbs up or a pat on the back.

Getting positive feedback for small wins is extra important for new hires, so they’ll settle well in their new environment.

Lesson 3: If you’re dissatisfied with someone’s work, let them know with a one minute reprimand.

Just like giving positive feedback doesn’t take long, expressing your dissatisfaction with someone’s performance doesn’t have to be a big deal either. Once people are familiar with your management style, have their one minute goals and you’ve praised them a couple times, you can use what Blanchard and Johnson call the one minute reprimand.

Similar to the one minute praise, you should use it right after the mistake was made and be very specific. To show there are no hard feelings, include a note of appreciation in your criticism.

For example: “I’m sorry Shirley, but that company presentation was below par and didn’t present us in the right light. Promise me you’ll do better next time, okay? I know you can do better, you’re doing so well on organizing that workshop for our clients, keep up the good work there.”

This form of criticism works well for three reasons:

  1. Your employees feel that their mistakes are being treated fairly and not with injustice.
  2. You both clear the air instantly and avoid dwelling on bad feelings.
  3. You remind your employee of their own worth and the valuable part they play in the organization.

My personal take-aways

I haven’t read the full book yet, but since it’s really short, I think there’s not much more to it than I’ve described here. What makes the book more powerful than the mere facts, though, is that it tells a story, in which a manager slowly finds out about the power of one minute management. It might help you remember what you read better.

The book’s just been updated and expanded last year and is now called ‘The New One Minute Manager’. I’m convinced it’s worth the hour or so it takes to read.

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What else can you learn from the blinks?

  • Why management is such a hard job
  • What a manager’s true job is
  • How much money companies spend on salaries vs. training their employees (the ratio is terrible)
  • Why most people fall into one of two bad management styles (and what the third option is)
  • How the one minute praise is like training a killer whale
  • What the one minute reprimand has in common with an intervention for an alcoholic

Who would I recommend The One Minute Manager summary to?

The 25 year old, who’s about to start her first job and to be managed for the first time, the 39 year old manager, who has a tough time giving positive feedback to his employees, and anyone who wants to be a better friend.