Blog: One Minute Manager

Call time out with your employees: why Blanchard and Johnson’s One Minute Manager will work for you

The One Minute Manager is a light yet truly invaluable read for business owners looking to use their time economically whilst also creating a healthy working environment. Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have co-authored a classic business text that is easy to digest and concise; let’s just say there’s a reason it’s a New York Times bestseller.

This 112 page account will be sure not to waste your time. In fact, it sets out to do exactly the opposite. The parable teaches managers to make every minute count. Want to make the most of your time? Look no further than this blog post’s short summary.

The book goes by a ‘do your time and save on it’ principle. By implementing three ‘secret’ tricks outlined by Blanchard and Johnson, managers can unlock the key to operating a fruitful and time efficient workplace.

Each of these techniques takes just 60 seconds out of your day and is guaranteed to get your business operating a mile a minute with little effort. By putting preventative instead of reactive measures into practice, borrowed time becomes an investment in improved performance and success rates from your employees. Let’s unpack the One Minute Manager’s three tips some more.

  1. One Minute Goals: set a small number of achievable goals complete with clear and detailed directions so your employees know exactly what and how they need to achieve them.
  2. One Minute Praisings: keep an eye out for when employees succeed and be quick to address it with commendation and further encouragement.
  3. One Minute Reprimands: failure is inevitable at one point or another, so when it does happen be quick to address it by providing constructive yet positive feedback.

Remember, capping these ‘time out’ sessions with employees at 60 seconds makes for succinct yet informative discussions which will keep everyone – including yourself – on track!

A quick disclaimer (before we delve into the good stuff)

Since the original text was published in 1982, Blanchard and Johnson have further indulged readers with their updated The New One Minute Manager, rewritten so as to remain relevant to businesses in a more technologically advanced world. We would recommend having a browse of the refurbished edition to get the most out of the book.

The three great secrets of the One Minute Manager: how taking a minute can actually end up buying you more time

The First Secret: One Minute Goals

The best way to get your employee to do exactly what you want is to communicate it unambiguously to them from the outset. Lay out a manageable amount of goals equipped with special directions for your employee. Make sure to do this within 60 seconds, to avoid complicating the set tasks.

Blanchard and Johnson recommend sticking to the 80/20 principle to determine the amount of goals to be met. For those readers who aren’t already familiar with the principle, it claims that 80% of results stem from 20% of the work you put in. When applied to Blanchard and Johnson’s strict 60 second time frame, sticking to three to six goals is best.

Make your employees aware that you will be reviewing both their goals and associated work frequently, so as to make sure they remain on course. See Secret #2 and #3 on how to conduct these reviews successfully.

TIP: One Minute Goals for both managers and employees

Managers also need to reinforce from the beginning of an employment term that individuals should seek further clarification if they feel they need it. Create an environment where your employees feel comfortable doing so. In the case of an employee, make sure you are asking questions if you don’t understand what is being asked of you to ensure you have a really clear idea of the brief. This will prevent redoing tasks down the line. If both managers and employees clarify goals early, rounds of revision are reduced and time is saved. This is why the emphasis on detail is such a big takeaway from the One Minute Goal. At the same time, the 60 second cap is important in stopping goal descriptions from becoming overly complex. Straightforwardness is key.

The Second Secret: One Minute Praisings

From the One Minute Goal, your employee will go either one of two ways. The first and preferred path will be one of success, whereby they achieve the goals you have set them. If this is the case, read on to find out how to execute the One Minute Praising. If your employee has missed the mark look no further than Secret #3. Make sure to come back to Secret #2 at some point though, as praise is an essential motivator for employees.

The confidence of your workers, especially those who are fresh to your business, will benefit exponentially from positive feedback. At the same time, praise will come full circle in your business by reinforcing a work ethic which produces results. Identifying what your workers have done will also help them to remember to do the same next time.

TIP: All it takes is 60 seconds

This is the easiest trick to implement in your workplace. Praise is often overlooked despite taking little to no time whatsoever. It doesn’t just have to be handed down by a manager. Employee-to-employee congratulations can embolden coworkers. All in all, it takes just one minute to foster a constructive and optimistic workplace.

The Third Secret: One Minute Reprimands

Alike to being direct and specific with outlining goals for your employees, the same approach should be applied when your employee slips up. While confrontation can be daunting for managers who prefer to play the ‘nice guy’, tiptoeing around mistakes is likely to result in an employee being unaware of how they can fix their error or what they even did wrong in the first place. On the other end of the spectrum, managers who tend to go overboard with the demoralizing feedback can risk lowering motivation in their task force.

Again, the time limit is essential in forcing you to be curt and to the point with your feedback, identifying with clarity exactly what your employee has done wrong and how to fix it.

TIP: Criticism can include positive feedback

We’ve all had to cop it from our bosses at one point or another. Remember the gratitude you felt when they were completely honest with you and offered advice on how to improve. Sugarcoating dissatisfaction or long and raging lectures are completely useless for both managers and employees; they send businesses backwards. As a manager, you can strike a balance by truthfully pointing out your grievances whilst also making reference to employee’s past successes as a sort of guide to how they can do better next time. In this way, you’re offering advice and positive feedback to soften the blow of criticism while still avoiding glossing over the mistake itself.

60 second summary

The One Minute Manager is an easy rule of thumb to apply when managing your employees. That sweet 60 second limit is in place to save time, hurt feelings and puzzling instructions. Calling these ‘time out’ sessions with your employees can result in better communication across the board for your workplace, not only between managers and employees but also employee-to-employee.

To quote Blanchard and Johnson, “a minute can change everything”. Invest in time and you will earn it back with interest.


If you’re interested in growing your business, generating more leads or driving more sales get a Free Strategy Session now and make this your year.

We are a performance-focused digital agency, committed to identifying, executing, and delivering on marketing that drives real growth. P3 is committed to making every strategy for our clients awesome.

Get your fREE digital marketing audit.