The One Minute Manager Book Summary: Four Key Points

The One Minute Manager Book Summary

The One Minute Manager is a book that’s stood the test of time. It’s an invaluable look into how to become a better manager or leader using three simple tools that each take only a minute. While it was first published in 1982, authors Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson M.D. wrote an updated version in 2015 called The New One Minute Manager. However, the key concepts are still the same.

1. The Wrong Management Styles (Finding Balance)

The first thing The One Minute Manager does is show you the wrong types of management styles and why they don’t work. In fact, it talks about something most other management books never talk about – what happens when you really put people first.

The One Minute Manager Book Summary Balance

If you’ve ever read leadership books, typically you’re told that your employees or team are your greatest asset, which they are. However, if you put them first over everything else, the business and projects suffer, which then reflects negatively on the team and your leadership.

The other type of leadership style the book showcases is what happens when a manager puts the business first. These are the ones who only care about results and not the people. As you may expect, this doesn’t work well either. The business seems to come out on top while the employees are treated badly. Eventually, the business loses great employees due to poor leadership.

The entire book is a look into the journey of a man who just wants to work for a great manager. He first experiences these less effective leadership styles. He then meets the one minute manager who shares his secrets.

2. Creating One Minute Goals

Blanchard and Johnson break effective management down into three one-minute tasks in The One Minute Manager. All three tasks are equally important to finding the perfect balance between the needs of the business and the needs of the employees. Even more importantly, it makes it easier for managers to actually manager their teams.

The One Minute Manager Book Summary Goals

The first task is one minute goals. Most of the time, managers toss employees into a role with just a basic job description. The employees don’t meet expectations and managers aren’t sure why or how to push them correctly. The problem isn’t the employee or the manager – it’s the job.

A general description doesn’t tell employees what they need to do or how a manager should measure their progress. Managers need to give employees a clear goal or goals to accomplish, such as “answer X customer service calls per day or week.” It’s all about communication.

Clear goals keep employees on task better, and it’s easier for managers to measure results against real goals. The book states you should create three to six goals with a 250-word or less description for each. The one minute part comes from each goal taking a minute or less to read. These can be daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly goals.

3. One Minute Praising

Even the best employees get discouraged if no one gives them any feedback into how they’re performing. That’s where one minute praising comes into play. The busiest managers can find one free minute to praise an employee for a job well done.

The One Minute Manager Book Summary Praise

This works especially well for motivating and building the confidence of new employees. However, managers should keep praising existing employees, too. While you don’t have to praise every little thing, show gratitude when an employee does well. This encourages them to continue doing well and shows them that they are doing a good job.

This step also adds the “people” element when balancing the business and people’s needs. It shows you care and that you’re never too busy to notice your team.

4. One Minute Reprimand

On the other hand, things aren’t always going to go well. This isn’t always the most pleasant part of being a manager, but you have to learn how to effectively deal with mistakes. While some managers may punish without explanation or go on lengthy tirade in a closed office, The One Minute Manager recommends the one minute reprimand.

The One Minute Manager Book Summary Reprimand

Just like with praising, you spend only one minute on the process. However, you have to do it just right for it be effective. The book breaks it down into three small steps:

  1. Reprimand immediately after the mistake
  2. Be as specific as possible
  3. Add something positive

The quicker you do the reprimand, the more fresh it is in everyone’s mind. Next, be specific so the employee knows what they did wrong so they can correct it in the future. Finally, try to add something positive, such as saying you know they can do better because you’ve seen just how much they’re capable of. This little bit of praise makes the reprimand less severe and shows you still have faith in their abilities.

Anyone wanting to improve as a manager should read The One Minute Manager. The variety of examples and actionable steps can change your management style quickly, leading to positive results for you and your team.

If you’re looking to do more reading, do check out our reviews of The Power of Habit and The Willpower Instinct.

Crystal Crowder

Crystal's spent over 15 years writing about technology, productivity, and a little of everything else. She's always trying out new ways to beat procrastination and distractions to stay more productive and hopefully work fewer hours.