The One Minute Manager – Book Review

“We are not Just our Behaviour. We are the person managing our Behaviour”

GENRE: Business
AUTHOR: Kenneth Blanchard, Ph. D. and Spencer Johnson, M.D.

More often than not we experience dissatisfaction in our workplace. We observe the same phenomenon happening with a lot of people around us – our colleagues, friends, relatives. Mostly they are frustrated with their manager while some are managers who are frustrated with their subordinates. This is the most common complaint that we hear from people and may experience ourselves in an organization. But What is the reason behind this? Is there no way out? If yes, then what? Can productivity be increased? If yes, then how? Is there a way for us or the people we are managing to enjoy the work along with the increase in productivity? What is the answer to these questions?

This book is one of the most acclaimed and well-known books written on the Management technique of Business genre and offers the solution to all the questions above in the most simplistic manner and in the most popular and effective way we humans learn and enjoy at the same time – a story. This is the shortest book I personally ever came across based on the subject of Management techniques. The writing is crisp and to the point. The solutions are even much easier to understand. The solutions are well crafted in the form of a story and convey the message so well that the person reading the books never finds the need to go over a sentence or paragraph again. The language is very easy to understand, to the extent that a child studying in school can understand it.


A young man, (the book does not give the name of this young man for much convenience to the reader) is on the search for an effective manager. He wanted to work for a truly effective manager. Thus, he searches in every organization he comes across, interviews many managers and lands on the conclusion that more or less there are only 2 styles of management either of which the managers across the business world follows –

  1. Autocratic, i.e., a style where the manager “keeps on top of the situation”. “A bottom-line manager”, “hard-nosed” & “realistic”. These were the managers for whom the most important thing was the profit which the company earns, focused only on the final results. The book puts it well – these managers “whose organization seemed to win while their people lost”. These are the Tough managers.
  2. Democratic, i.e., a style where the manager is “Participative”, “Supportive”, “Considerate”, “Humanistic”. These are the opposite of the Autocratic managers. These managers focus on the people working for them and not on the bottom-line results. It is not needed to say that their people won but their organization lost.

It seemed that the world was divided into these two types of managers, none of which could be called an effective manager. The young man one day hears about an exceptional manager and wants to meet him. So he asks him for the time and the manager gladly gives him the time. He meets the manager and is astonished by the manager’s style of work. The manager seems to be the best of both styles the man has known till now – autocratic and democratic. To the young man’s surprise, the manager calls himself a “One Minute Manager”. The manager asks the young man to see for himself by interviewing his subordinates. The young man agrees and interviews 3 of the manager’s subordinates and comes to know the One Minute Management technique the manager applies which makes him an effective manager. This technique includes –

  1. One minute Goal Setting.
    In most organizations and many of us may have experienced this ourselves – we do not know what exactly our job entails. What we think our responsibilities are and what our boss thinks our responsibilities do not match most of the time. We are not aware of what our Goal is.
    The One-minute goal setting includes the manager telling what needs to be done and the team agreeing what needs to be done, then each person records his/her goals on a piece of paper in not more than 250 words so that anyone is able to read it within a minute. Then both the manager and the subordinate keeps a copy each. Setting the goal with absolute clarity in the mind of the subordinates on what needs to be done. The person can match whether their behavior matches their goal during execution.

  2. One Minute Praising
    “Catch people doing something right”

    This is based on Positive reinforcement. In most organizations, managers spend most of their time trying to catch an employee doing something wrong. An employee works much better when he is happy rather when he is pressured to give results. Everyone in an organization wishes to work well but they do not because they are not happy due to many a number of reasons. A half-hearted effort seldom yields good results. To counter this the One Minute Manager employs the technique of One Minute Praising.
    The manager closely monitors the new member of the team and asks them to send him a detailed report of their progress. The manager makes close contact as soon as he finds the employee doing something right – he meets them, and putting his hands on their shoulder or touching them in a friendly way lets them know what a good job they have done, also that they and their manager are on the same team. People like to be praised, soon they will start looking to do their task in the right way and for that they start praising themselves, making them satisfied and happy in the process.

  3. One Minute Reprimands
    Unlike One Minute Praising, this technique works on Negative reinforcement. When there is someone whom you respect or you truly believe is on your side, you do want to disappoint that person.
    This technique works in two parts –
    • the manager lets the people know beforehand that he is going to let them know immediately when they do something wrong in clear terms and very specifically, reprimand the people immediately for it and tell them how he feels about what they did wrong. This is followed by being silent for a few seconds to let that sink in and letting them feel what he feels.
    • the manager shakes hand, or touch them in a way that let them know that they both are on the same side after all. The manager reminds them how much they are valued and reaffirms that he thinks well of them but not of their performance in the present situation.

This has a great impact on people. Mainly, this persuades them to act in a way through which they will get maximum Praising minimum reprimands.

The Final Word about this book:

The book takes great care to explain the above-mentioned style of management. It not only explains this concept with ease but also with great simplicity and conviction, and through the use of examples and scenarios nonetheless.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It’s a simple language and the ease with which it explains the concept entertains and educates the reader at the same time. A very interesting read, the reader truly connects with the book given its unerring simplicity and a sweet and simple story line. One must definitely read this book, at least once!

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