One Minute management and the new GM

Two weeks ago, I introduced Ken Blanchard as an author. He has, of course, written much more than about effective problem delegation. Now I’d like to share another of his concepts- one minute management.

When i was a new manager I happened to read Ken Blanchard, One Minute manager series. As a believer that simpler is better, it struck me as a great start to managing people. It clearly spells out the key pitfalls of management and in simple terms what to do about them. The brief volume tells a story, recounting three techniques of an effective manager: one-minute goals, one-minute praisings and one-minute reprimands. And if you don’t have the time or inclination to read, here’s Ken talking about his ideas.

The area that I found most telling for me, and is an area where most managers and General Manager struggle, was how to deal when things go wrong

While One-Minute Praising is about catching someone when they do something right, the One-Minute Reprimand has its place, too. It is the third secret in your simple formula for people management success.

Sure, we need to focus positively on encouraging and creating success. But when a mistake happens, and you have gathered the facts about it, you should discuss it with the team member who made the error face to face, in a private place away from other team members. You will simply make eye contact with them and tell the team member precisely what they did wrong. You will then share how you feel about the mistake: that you are frustrated, or angry, or disappointed? You then let them think about what they have done in silence.

Once the mistake has sunk in, you let the team member know how competent you consider them to be and that the only reason you are disappointed, angry or frustrated by the mistake is because a team member with so much knowledge and competence should have avoided it. You can then explain that you look forward to speaking with the person soon under different circumstances (i.e. not for the same mistake) and that they retain your full support. This will hit home for the team member that they should be aware of that particular mistake and avoid it in future. The conversation usually takes less than a minute.


Five things to remember with One-Minute Reprimands are:

  1. A reprimand should be made as soon as the mistake happens.
    Even if your business is doing well otherwise and you are feeling good about a project’s success, do not overlook mistakes. Do not keep a shopping list of mistakes made by an employee over a week, month or year and then explode on them all at once. If you do, the recipient won’t really absorb what you’re saying and may get defensive and even de-energized.
  2. Specify exactly what the mistake was.
    Clarify what the problem is to show you are on top of things and that sloppiness will not be overlooked. Do not reprimand on hearsay. Get your facts straight, and show you care enough to be tough.
  3. Criticize the behaviour, not the person.
    Overt personal attacks make people defensive and make them want to pass the blame. By focusing on their behaviour or performance, you appear fair as a manager.
  4. Be consistent.
    Do not reprimand one team member for making a mistake and then not reprimand someone else who does the same thing. By being consistent with both reprimands and praise, you gain the trust of your team.
  5. Be willing to laugh it off, after.
    Team members need to be able to laugh about both praise and reprimands. Remembering that you are all team members together, the reprimand is there to inform team members that you care for their work performance, and care that work performance will improve. Having reprimanded, move on don’t dwell on the past unless the mistake occurs again.