by Jane Anderson, Featured Contributor
I READ THE ORIGINAL One Minute Manager multiple times back in the 80s while working at my first serious job. I’ve threaded my way through a lot of organizations and managers since then, but as I read this new, updated version I found the same foundational principles enhanced to be applicable to business cultures today with different structures, flexible work arrangements, and technology that didn’t exist 30 years ago. If you remember the original version you will be as impressed as I was that the One-minute Reprimand has been changed to the One-minute Re-direct. I liked that change! What is perhaps most noteworthy about this little book is that the title implies manager, but every person can practice the principles. The world has changed but preserving relationships is still a major objective at work and at home and in our communities.
In search of the ideal manager: Through this parable, we meet a ‘young man’ who goes out into the world in search of a manager who would encourage people to balance their work and life so that each became more meaningful and enjoyable. He wanted to work for one because he wanted to become one. As he discovered, there were a number of managers in all forms of character and personality, at varying levels of autocratic to democratic behavior. This young man didn’t give up because he knew what he was looking for. He found it when he learned of a manager who was credited with achieving remarkable results through collaborative team efforts.
He went to the organization and that’s where the story begins and also where we are introduced to the New One Minute Manager. When asked why he was called a One Minute Manager, he responded, “They call me that because it takes very little time for me and my team to get good results.” In fact throughout this story readers become familiar with principles of success applied through three actions. The authors refer to them as secrets, but the truth is, they are positive actions that any person, regardless of their role, can perform. They are so powerful, yet take only a moment.
One Minute Goals: We’ve all been in organizations where the executive level sets goals based on the company vision, then in reverse order, those goals are communicated outward, to managers who set goals, then communicate outward to the staff who set goals; then through that cycle everyone is working on goals which feed upward through the pipeline to keep the process going while the vision is achieved. Let’s be honest. It takes more than one minute to set a goal. In fact, to determine goals and properly describe them, might take a few hours but the key is to have clarity of what an individual’s responsibilities are, then define goals concisely to align with those responsibilities. The One Minute Manager works with the individual to set goals and their performance standards, including what needs to be done, and by a specific due date. In our story, we learn that managers work with each person to set 3 to 5 goals, each of which is clearly defined so responsibilities are aligned with what they are accountable for. The goals are then written out in one page or less so they can be reviewed each day and take about a minute to read through.
Do you have a problem? The authors recognized a problem by this definition. “If there is a difference between what is actually happening and what you desire to be happening, you have a problem.” When reviewing status, each goal is held up against what is actually happening and if there’s a discrepancy, corrective action can be taken. In one minute, you can go through each goal and determine if you’ve swayed off course.
One Minute Praising: To succeed in a job, feedback is an invaluable tool. For people to reach their full potential, they need to know in specific terms what they are doing well and what they need to work on. After setting one minute goals, the manager stays in close contact with the individual. First, observing activities and second to review reports on progress. As unsettling as that may seem, the true objective is not to spy and find fault, but rather to catch people doing something right. In many organizations, that doesn’t happen. Actions are put under a microscope to find out what is wrong. In the New One Minute Manager that philosophy is changed to look for the right, the positive performance. This instills a sense of accomplishment and people want to achieve higher competence.
It takes very little time to praise someone for doing the right things and infuse them with confidence. Be specific, be sincere, do it soon and be genuine about supporting their success.
One Minute Re-Directs: Reading the first two secrets probably made you wonder just as I did, what happens when things go wrong, because they do. That’s what the re-direct is for. Let me segue for a minute here and praise the authors for changing this reference from what it was in the original text. Back in the 80s, this corrective action was called a One Minute Reprimand. I know. I thought so too. Reprimand always seemed depressing to me, but somehow Re-direct has positive flare. Re-direct is like a gentle tug or nudge to get back on track before totally derailing. When a mistake is made, the manager and employee quickly meet to review the goal together. They confirm that a mistake was made then the manager uses the re-direct technique.
The re-direct is in two parts. The focus is first on the mistake itself, what the impacts could be, and what could happen as a result. Being specific about what went wrong is imperative. Allow time for thought and evaluation so there is agreement on what happened. The manager then focuses on the employee so they realize they are better than the mistake, the manager still has confidence in them and trusts them. This is prime opportunity to continue the groundwork for that foundation of trust and authenticity all managers strive for.
Can this entire process really happen in one minute? No, not the entire process, but as explained by Blanchard and Spencer, this process is key to preserving the relationship and staying on a positive course without leaving behind negativity.
So what do you think? With a little focus on desired outcome and concentration on positive actions, these secrets will change you and change your organization. In the final pages of this book, the young man who went in search of a manager he could emulate, found what he was looking for. “He, too, became a New One Minute Manager. He became one, not because he thought like one, or talked like one, but because he managed like one. He led people to be creative and do new things. He encouraged those around him to do the same for the people they worked with.”
One of the best things the publisher did was create an eBook for this edition of The New One Minute Manager. Its quotes and storylines are positive reinforcement for when the atmosphere turns negative and we need a replacement for those thoughts and actions. Whether in print format or eBook, it’s a great little instruction manual with giant capacity for changing workplace culture.