The One Minute Manager

A required reading in my management class, The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.  The professor was surprised nobody in his class of a dozen has read the book and so gave it as reading assignment.  This was also in preparation of the discussion in our next class which is on ‘could organization exist without management? Could management exist without organization?’

I’ve come across the book in bookstores but ignored it every time.  It didn’t appeal to me.  Then, I didn’t  think ‘one minute management’ was realistic.  How could a manager manage on one minute?  How could a book of less than 500 pages make a case of managing an organization?

Anyway.  The effective manager, according to the author, maintains three secrets.  But I was struck with the second: One Minute Praising in which the One Minute Manager dispenses praises to employees who have done things right.

The most important thing in training somebody to become a winner is to catch them doing something right – in the beginning approximately right and gradually moving them toward the desired behavior. …(but) what we often do with new inexperienced people…we welcome them aboard, take them around to meet everybody and then we leave them alone.  Not only do we catch them doing anything approximately right, but periodically we zap them just to keep them moving… We call it the’leave alone-zap’ style.  You leave a person alone, expecting good performance from them and when you don’t get it, you zap them…much of the reason for this poor…performance is simply because the people are managed so poorly.

Toward the end of the book, one finds the rationale behind ‘one minute management’:

the best minute I spend is the one (minute) I invest in people. It’s ironic…most companies…spend more time and money on maintaining their buildings and equipment than they do maintaining and developing people.

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