Classic Success Secrets of the One-Minute Manager

By Selling Power Editors

Twenty years ago, Ken Blanchard published “one-minute management” secrets that increased productivity and improved leadership for thousands of top managers and Fortune 500 companies. To this day, 10,000 copies of The One Minute Manager are sold each month. Here’s a review of the initial three secrets that sales managers can use still to change themselves and their business for the better.

The First Secret: One-Minute Goals

All good performance starts with clear goals. Ken Blanchard once had breakfast with Lou Holtz, the head coach of the Notre Dame football team. Holtz kept a little book for himself and one for each of his players in which everyone wrote individual and team goals for the season. Why did he use these books? He told Blanchard, “Of all my experiences in managing people, the power of goal setting is the most incredible.”

Create a model for good behavior by agreeing on your goals up front. Make sure you write out each of your goals. Limit the number of goals to five. Write down what the present level of performance is on each goal and then what level you want. The discrepancy between the actual and desired goal becomes the area for improvement.

Give yourself a deadline for reaching that new level. Make several copies of your goals for home and work so you can refer to them daily. Look at your goals, then look at your behavior and see if it matches your goals.

The Second Secret: One-Minute Praisings

The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right, rather than blame them for doing something wrong. Yet most managers persist in basically leaving their people alone until they make a mistake that’s noticeable. Then the manager criticizes. Blanchard called that a “leave-alone-zap” management style, or “seagull management.” “Seagull managers” fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, and then fly out.

Tell people beforehand that you’re going to let them know how they’re doing. Then emphasize three main points with praisings. Be immediate. Don’t save praisings for a holiday.

Next, be specific. Just saying “good job” is nice but not very helpful.

Third, share your feelings about their work. Tell people how good you feel about the right things they’ve done and how it helps the organization and their co-workers. Stop for a moment to let them enjoy feeling how good you feel. End with a reaffirmation, and encourage them to keep up the good work.

The Third Secret: One-Minute Reprimands

What do you do when people don’t perform well or make limited or no progress? You have to hold them accountable.

The first remedy for poor performance should be redirection, which means going back to goal setting, trying to find out what went wrong, and getting them back on track. Never reprimand or punish someone who’s trying to learn, but if you’re dealing with somebody who knows better (i.e., someone who has performed a similar task well in the past), then a “one-minute reprimand” might be appropriate.

Reprimand people immediately. Tell people exactly how you feel about what they did wrong. Then pause. This helps you transition to the most important part of a reprimand: reaffirmation. Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance in this situation. You want to get them back on course, not try to make them feel bad. Remind them how much you value them. Realize that when the reprimand is over, it’s over.