The Magical Simplicity of the One-Minute Manager

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard, PhD, One-Minute Manager

Our in-company leadership development programs, based on the principles in my book, have a number of modules to grow and strengthen teams, and help people improve their abilities as managers and leaders.

In a recent session, we shared principles of The One-Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard PhD and Spencer Johnson MD. These are some of simplest and most powerful skills that some people, after many years of practice, still aren’t that great at.

To be a great manager of people there are three simple things you need to do:

  1. One-minute goal setting to make sure your people have clear goals to focus on
  2. One-minute praise when they achieve those goals or make solid steps toward them
  3. One-minute reprimands when they fail to deliver on the goals and need calibration.

If you are effective, all your people have clear goals, and receive specific praise when they achieve.

Not “Hey, good job!”.

Rather “Well done on that report because you found a way to make a complex problem very simple, and you kept the reports easy to understand and present to the board.”

A reprimand, when someone doesn’t deliver, includes how the work is not meeting expectations and what they need to do specifically to improve. It’s important that they know you believe in them and their capability, and that you make sure they have what they need to succeed next time.

Give lots of little feedback when it’s fresh in your mind. Don’t wait until an annual feedback session when you’ve forgotten the details.

Get in the habit of constantly sharing the things that work for you, and what doesn’t. People want to do a good job and they want to know how to improve.

Practice makes perfect

When we broke into role-playing groups of three – one manager giving feedback, one receiving it, and one observing – it was incredibly valuable for even experienced managers to practice. Some were rusty while others were very good at general positive praise but not specific praise. Some managers were good at reprimands but not at making it positive – and more than a few were uncomfortable.

“If you want to know why your people are not performing well, step up to the mirror and take a peek.”

Our jobs, as managers and leaders of people, is to remove ourselves as the variable for someone’s lack of performance. If someone is not meeting performance expectations, they have no clear goals, and no feedback, you are part of the problem – and you allow them to be less than high performers.

Make sure you are part of the solution, have regular conversations, give positive feedback and reprimands.

If you’re not doing the basics, you are doing your people a disservice.

The Challenge

  • Make sure you are living with the principles of The One-Minute Manager, for all your people
  • If you haven’t read it recently, pick it up and read it.