The One-Minute Manager

the_one_minute_managerI have read the ‘One Minute Manager’ (Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson, Berkley Books) at various times during my life and each time it is with a new perspective.

The first time I read it was when I had just started on my career. Frankly, I was a bit bored by the book and I missed the whole point of it. Then after some years, I again read the book. This time the concept intrigued me. Everything done in a minute!

Then more recently, I read it again and this time I got the idea and it was no longer intriguing, but downright enlightening. It seemed the most efficient way to do things – in the shortest possible time.

The purpose of this blog is not about the book as such but to extrapolate on the concept that is explained in the book and what we can learn from it. To those who haven’t read it, the book is essentially about managing people, who are the most important resources in any organisation. If we extend the learning from it, you can also interpret it as getting the results you want in as little time as possible. As a manager, you should not be spending too much time in doing things – whether it is setting goals, praising your employees and chiding them.

The one-minute time is not that important. What is important is how much time are you spending on doing things? How fast is your reaction time? Are your goals so complicated that your employees get confused?

I am sometimes amused reading the mission and vision statements by companies. It runs into several sentences and statements. You have to be able to explain your vision and mission in one sentence. If you are putting in too many of them then you have lost focus.

In the same way, as a team leader or manager you should have well-defined goals for your team that can be read or seen at a glance. Goals, whether the manager or the team members set it, should not occupy more than a sheet of paper. In addition, it should be written in such a way so that it can be easily

We have lost the art of simplicity. In fact, we like making things sound complicated because we think that makes us look clever. If what you say sounds too complex to be understood by others, then the problem is not with their understanding but your ability to explain and communicate.

Since our thought processes are not simple, the way we go about doing things is not simple. Our corporate structure also reflects our complex thinking processes. India’s retail king, Kishore Biyani is a staunch advocate of the simplicity theory. He holds the idea that an organisation should have as few layers as possible, in order to simplify the decision-making process. The more layers, the more time is spent in transmitting information.

The essence of any good manager and management principles is being ‘people friendly’, that is, treating employees with care. Finally, organisations and corporations are all about people and if they are not happy, you cannot have a happy organisation.

The root of all enterprise is people; they are the most important resource. Next comes the processes and systems and then we have the purpose for which the enterprise has been set up. It doesn’t matter if an organisation has two people or 200 people. If their attitude is not right then it doesn’t matter how innovative or how novel the venture is; it will not work.

In the book ‘One Minute Manager’, the manager takes just a minute to praise or reprimand his employees. Extrapolating on this idea, we can conclude that timely action is of the essence. React to events – positive and negative – as soon as they occur. Events do not wait for you. Sometimes you also need to anticipate events and then take action accordingly.

Managers and senior team members in corporates spend a large amount of their time in meetings. Those who have been part of these meetings know that there is a good amount of time wasted in these meetings. Most meetings are inconclusive and some of them have no agenda at all.

If you were an efficient manager, you would not need these meetings. If you have conveyed your instructions properly to your team, they would not need to speak to you frequently, unless it is to update you on their progress – and does it require hours to do that? As a team member, how much time would you really need to explain to your boss how much of your goals have been achieved?

Even meetings need to be efficiently held and should be productive. The meeting agenda should have the objectives clearly laid down. What is the purpose of the meeting? What are the items to be discussed? What are the actions points and by when should they be achieved? Finally, what are the conclusions reached?

People often have meetings to raise issues but they come up with no solutions.

This is a wasted meeting. Some people hold meetings because they claim that is the way they interact with team members. Even if this is true, you have to keep such meetings short.

Large projects need to be broken down into smaller ones with short-term goals. All the short-term goals lead to medium-term goals, which in turn lead to longer-term goals.

Simplifying things and making them into smaller achievable targets is the way to introduce efficiencies in the system. If your systems and processes are efficient, then employees can perform at peak efficiency and be more Processes and systems in a company are meant to help employees. They are not to create roadblocks or hinder them in the course of their duties. Keep them simple so that it is easy for employees for them to follow it and most importantly, understand why they are there.

I have seen some organisation where their workers’ manual, run into several pages. Do you really expect employees to remember all that and work according to it? What’s wrong with a one-page set of instructions?

As aspiring management students and future managers, you have to internalise this idea in your DNA – simplicity is of the essence.

Contributed by Disha Parekh Mohanty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *