The One Minute Manager

Despite the title, The One Minute Manager is not a book simply for managers.  Certainly, it has brilliant strategy on how to effectively (and efficiently) work with employees.  However, the reason for this book’s tremendous global success is the universally applicable nature of the message.  This is a book for managers and employees, parents with children, co-workers, housemates, classmates and married couples.  And I mean that quite sincerely.  So the question is –

What universal truths resonate in all human interaction?

The story of The One Minute Manager is told as a fable, as are many of Ken Blanchard’s books.  In it, we are introduced to a young “manager in training”; a man on a quest to discover the makings of an ideal manager.  He finds managers who are “hard liners” – dedicated to bottom line gain, usually at the expense of employee morale.  He finds “soft” managers – those who get their greatest satisfaction from the happiness of their staff, although often at the expense of the company’s financial well being.  And then, the young man comes across a different kind of manager – a manager who produces some of the best results in his field, while maintaining an extremely positive work environment and appears to have more free time than any of his counterparts.

In a nutshell, here are the three tools the one minute manager uses to maintain a positive, productive organization:

1. One Minute Goal Setting: outlining, with the employee specific goals, benchmarks and consequences (good and bad)

2. One Minute Praisings: Catching someone doing something right, and recognizing them for it.

3. One Minute Reprimands: Catching unproductive or negative behavior immediately, and explaining to the employee what the consequences have been.

Those three points are an extremely condensed version of the three found in The One Minute Manager, and should not be utilized until further understood.  (aka – if you’re a manager, buy and read this book.  It’s 107 large font, small sheet pages – it’ll take you a couple hours, max.)

But for the rest of us, who are not managers, and have patiently read the last paragraph looking for the “universal truth” mentioned above… thank you for your patience.  Here you go:

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Those Who Feel Good, Do Good

"People Who Feel Good About Themselves Produce Good Results."
- The One Minute Manager, page 19

One common tie between the One Minute Goal Setting, Praising and Reprimand, is the underlying sense of respect and inherent worth that is maintained (and shared) with the individual on the receiving end.

Goal setting is conducted together, with the manager valuing the insight from the employee.  Up front, responsibilities and consequences are established and discussed until both parties understand their personal responsibilities.  They get to feel a sense of ownership and know that they are trusted.  The One Minute Praising is powerful because it’s specific and immediate. And the One Minute Reprimand reminds the employee that it’s the action that’s being criticized, not the person.

“He looks you straight in the eye and tells you precisely what you did right.
Then he shares with you how good he feels about what you did.”

Regardless of the relationship, and whether you’re in a senior role or are on a level playing field, keep one fact in mind; People want one thing – to feel valued.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions

"Most managers wait until their people do something exactly right before they praise them.  As a result, many people never get to become high performers because their managers concentrate on catching them doing things wrong – that is, anything that falls short of the final desired performance."
- The One Minute Manager, page 82

What is true of most managers, can easily be true of most parents, spouses or friends.  Try catching someone doing something right.  Let them know what it means that they did it to such great quality, and how it makes you feel.  No one will ever fault you for giving a deserved compliment.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The Nature of Complaint

"If you can’t tell me what you’d like to be happening, he said, you don’t have a problem yet.  You’re just complaining.  A problem only exists if there is a difference between what is actually happening and what you desire to be happening."
- The One Minute Manager, page 31

I think this is one of my favorite quotes from any book in the last 12 months.  I think it’s a great rule of thumb for discussion with anyone – if you can’t identify what you’d like to see happen, then don’t waste time talking about “problems”.  A problem has a solution; maybe not a readily available one, and certainly not always an easy one.  But the possibility is there.  Don’t tell someone what they’re doing wrong until you can identify what it is they should be doing right.  You’ll save yourself, and them, a lot of time, energy and grief.


The One Minute Manager is a simple message, wrapped in an extremely enjoyable read.  The profound truth to the three messages in the book are so simply explained, they can be picked up and adopted by any one at any stage of life.  Possibly the most important thought though, buried near the end of the book is this: “As he looked back, he was glad he had not waited to use One Minute Management until he thought he could do it just right.”

Don’t waste time getting perfect.  Start now, and let perfection run its course.  I wish you all the very best life has to offer.

Consultant or Coach? Take our Fit Assessment to find out if partnering with Actionable is right for you.
Chris Taylor

ABOUT Chris Taylor

Founder of Actionable Books, Chris Taylor is a writer, entrepreneur and speaker. He spends his daylight hours helping consultants and employees alike find meaning in their work and discover rich team relationships through his company, Actionablebooks...
Read More
blog comments powered by Disqus

Back to summaries