Book Review: The One Minute Manager

Submitted by jroos on Wed, 03/30/2011 - 20:13

The One Minute Manager is a quick read that covers the basics of managing people. It tries to demonstrate that managing people does not have to be a time consuming part of our jobs if done right. The emphasis is on setting goals and establishing clear expectations, praising people by catching them doing something right and correcting poor performance. Each of these parts can theoretically be done without spending a great deal of time.

One Minute Goals: The basic idea is to set goals and identify what good results look like. They should be done on paper in 250 words or less. Both the manager and employee should individually review the goals and progress regularly to see whether the result matches the expectation. 
The overall idea of this part is that there should be no surprises because everyone involved should clearly understand the expectation.
One Minute Praising: Managers should be trying to catch people doing something right. Managers should tell people in advance that you are going to let them know how they are doing. People should be praised immediately on being caught doing it right. The manager needs to be specific in the praise and tell the person how good it makes you feel and how it helps the organization and other coworkers.
The point of one minute praising is to reinforce positive behavior.
One Minute Reprimands: This is not a formal heavyweight reprimand. It is supposed to be a gentle correction for poor performance. Once again the manager needs to make sure employees know that you are going to be honest about how they are doing. Just as with praisings, people need to be reprimanded immediately. It’s important to be specific and tell the person how you feel and how it impacts the organization and coworkers. After the reprimand the person should be told how much they are valued and reminded that the manager things well of them, just not about this one performance issue. Finally, when the reprimand is over, it’s over and it won’t continually be held over the person as long as there is no repeat.
The one minute reprimand focuses on the performance rather than the person. The performance issue needs to be corrected, but the person still needs to feel valued.
Overall I think the ideas in the book are commonsense and worthwhile. It is a little simplistic and the language is somewhat outdated, but I think it’s a good primer for anyone beginning to supervise. It presents three key concepts of supervision in an easy to understand narrative format.
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