Book notes: The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson

The One Minute Manager book summary by Marlo Yonocruz

The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson


“For decades The One Minute Manager has helped millions achieve more successful professional and personal lives. While the principles it lays out are timeless, our world has changed drastically since the book’s publication. The exponential rise of technology, global flattening of markets, instant communication, and pressures on corporate workforces to do more with less – including resources, funding, and staff – have all revolutionized the world in which we live and work.

Now Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have updated The One Minute Manger to introduce the book’s powerful, important lessons to a new generation. In their concise, easy-to-understand story, they teach listeners three very practical secrets about leading others and explain why these techniques continue to work so well.” -Amazon

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Opening thoughts:

This was another one of those personal development classics I’ve heard about several times. I’m a huge fan of anything which has a great longevity in its value. Even though this book might be dated, I’m sure the principles would still be relevant to challenges in today’s world. Moreover, it’s another short read, just like Spencer Johnson’s book I just finished Who Moved My Cheese? and I needed a short book to stay on schedule for my monthly reading.

Key notes:

  • Today, people look for more fulfillment in their work and lives. They want to feel engaged and make a meaningful contribution
  • They are less willing to trade time on the job for needs outside of work

“The essence of knowledge is having it to use it”

  • People/managers interested in results are labeled “autocratic”
    • Managers interested in people are labeled “democratic”
  • The most effective managers manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the people and the organization profit from their presence
  • Leading with collaborative approach:
    • Listens while the group reviews and analyzes what they’ve achieved the previous week, problems they’ve had, what remains to be accomplished, and plans and strategies to get those things done
    • Decisions made in the meeting are binding
    • Purpose: for people to participate in making key decisions about what they are going to do next
  • New 1-minute manager believes in facilitating, not participating, in other people’s decisions
    • Since we’re here to get results, drawing on the talents of everyone will make the group more productive
  • To succeed sooner, managers must be results AND people-oriented
    • Results are obtained through people, they go hand in hand
    • People who feel good about themselves produce good results
  • Productivity is not just the quantity of work done, it is also quality
  • Often in an organization, asking someone what they do and then asking their boss will give you two different answers
    • 1MM, instead of setting his employees’ goals for them, he listens to their input and works side-by-side with them to develop the goals

1-Minute Manager Framework

Secret #1: 1-Minute Goals
  • 1-Minute Goals
    • A goal is a performance standard, what needs to be done and by what due date
    • Should take no more than a 1-2 paragraphs and can be read/reviewed in 1 min
    • 80% of the really important results will come from 20% of your goals
    • They only set goals on that 20%, which are key areas, maybe 3-5 goals
    • This way, you manage yourself and it’s easier for everyone
  • The manager works with them to make sure expectations are clear
    • Example goal: identify and solve your own problems
    • A problem only exists when there is a difference between what is actually happening and what you desire to be happening.
      • If you don’t know what you’d like to be happening, there is no problem yet. You are simply complaining
    • Figure out what may have caused the desired discrepancy between the actual and the desired
    • Then figure out options that will create solutions and make what you want to happen happen
  • This type of management would make the organization more responsive with more team members able and empowered to act on their own
  • One minute goals work well when you:
    1. Plan the goals together and describe them briefly and clearly. Show people what good performance looks like
    2. Have people write out their goals with a due date on a single page
    3. Ask them to review their most important goals each day
    4. Ask people to check to see if their activities align with their goals
    5. If no, encourage them to rethink their activities they do to realize their goals
  • Look for changes and adapt to them
Secret #2: 1-Minute Praisings
  • 1-Minute Praisings
    • It’s easier for someone to do well if his boss gives him crystal clear feedback on what he’s doing.
    • This helps him succeed, enjoy his work, and be a big help to the organization
    • Saying: “help people reach their full potential, catch them doing something right”
    • Structure: (when he sees you doing something right)
      1. Praise people as soon as possible
      2. Let them know precisely what they did right, be specific
      3. Tell them how good you feel about what they did right and how it helps
      4. Pause for a moment to allow them to feel good about what they’ve done
      5. Encourage them to do more of the same
      6. Make it clear you have confidence in them and support their success
    • Praisings are heavier in the beginning but reduces when there is more trust and confidence
    • Praisings reinforces confidence, which is key
Secret #3: 1-Minute Redirects
  • 1-Minute Redirects
    • If a mistake is made, the manager will first make sure he made the goal they set clear. If not, he takes responsibility and clarifies the goal
    • Part one: focus on the mistake
      • As soon as mistake is apparent, confirm the facts and review what has gone wrong
      • Manager explains how he feels about the mistake and its possible impact on their results
      • Quiet moment to give person time to feel concerned about mistake and think about its impact on him and the organization
    • Part two: focus on the person
      • Manager reminds him that he’s better than his mistake and that he has confidence and trust in him. He doesn’t expect a repeat of the mistake and looks forward to working with him
    • Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake and get over it by doing better work
    • Reminder: “the best minute I spend is the one I invest in people
  • Like bowling, it’s hard to get excited about work when you don’t know where the pins are and what you are aiming for
    • When you assume people know what’s expected of them, you create an ineffective form of bowling
    • Saying: “feedback is the breakfast of champions, feedback is what keeps us going
  • In order to look good as a manager in most organizations, you have to catch people doing things wrong. You have to have a few winners, a few losers, and everyone else somewhere in the middle
  • Albert Einstein never knew his own phone number. He never cluttered his mind with information he could find somewhere else
  • Everyone is a potential winner, some of them are just disguised as losers. Don’t let their appearance fool you
  • 3 options for a manager:
    1. Hire a winner (expensive)
    2. Train and develop someone into a winner
    3. Pray (joke)
  • Reminder: take a minute to look at your goals, look at what you’re doing, and see if it matches your goals
  • Similar to teaching babies how to walk and kids how to speak, you start by giving praise to the progress and doing things almost right
  • Most organizations have “wait and zap” management, they only respond when something is wrong
    • This is why most people don’t enjoy their work and they do the bare minimum
    • Most managers save up their observations of poor performance and negative feedback until the review, and then they dump it all at once (highly ineffective)
    • One-minute redirects give feedback in small doses and catches problems early on
    • Performance reviews should be an ongoing process, not a once a year thing
  • The second half of the redirect is there because we’re not meant to tear people down, but to build them up
  • When people become defensive, they don’t learn. Therefore, you want to separate their behavior from their worth
    • It works better if you are first tough on the behavior and then supportive of the person
  • Behavior and worth are not the same things. What is most important is the person managing their own behavior
  • Goals begin behaviors. Consequences influence future behaviors

Closing thoughts:

I’m starting to really enjoy these short books. I love how concise and to the point the messages are. I realize that most of the longer books have really 1-3 main points, and the rest of the book are just expositions of those key ideas. These shorter books get straight to the point but don’t lose the necessary strategies for execution. The value in this book is that it breaks down the idea into 3 parts and gives just enough description to give it context, but doesn’t over do it.

I think this is one of those books you can easily describe in an easily digestible, bite-sized way. As a gift, the book is a short enough read to add value while not being overwhelming.


A smarter and more effective way to manage people in less time.

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