Human management

Is management in a minute still relevant in 2022?

It’s hard to believe it’s been over forty years since Spencer Johnson and I wrote “The One Minute Manager®” in 1981. When it was released, it hit bestseller lists and stayed there for years. The book’s original “three secrets” of management were: one-minute goals, one-minute praises, and one-minute reprimands (changed to one-minute referrals). in “The New One Minute Manager®”, published in 2015). The simplicity of these principles, I’ve been told, have helped thousands of managers support, develop, and help people achieve their goals.

These days, once in a while, someone will ask me if I think the One Minute Manager’s simple leadership philosophies can hold up in today’s unpredictable and ever-changing business world. In essence, they ask me, are the three one-minute manager secrets still relevant in 2022? My answer: I don’t just think they are relevant today. I to know they are.

It is true that today’s managers face responsibilities, problems and challenges that no manager has faced before. They are responsible for achieving their own goals while supervising and supporting people who may be in other cities, states, or countries. They can work with smaller budgets and fewer people due to the pandemic and the Great Resignation. Distractions and obstacles abound. And the leaders of organizations – struggling to keep their companies solvent and their own heads above water – may be unable to offer managers much help.

Can today’s overworked managers be effective leaders with management theories from 40 years ago? They certainly can. It’s about Communication.

Communication and the Three Secrets

As you read these descriptions of each of these three secrets, think about how important the clarity of communication is to their success. Keep in mind that each process only takes a few minutes to implement.

The first secret: one-minute goals. To successfully implement one-minute goals, managers have a goal-setting conversation with direct reports. The manager listens to the person’s feedback and they work side by side to plan goals together. They make sure the person knows what a good job looks like. The manager also asks the person to write down their goals and briefly review the most important goals each day, and encourages them to ensure that their behavior aligns with their goals. If this is not the case, the manager suggests that the person rethink their behavior so that they can achieve their goals more quickly. One-minute goals work because the manager makes sure the goal is clear and the person knows what a good job looks like.

The Second Secret: One-Minute Praise. When a manager notices that someone is doing something right, they let them know as soon as possible and praise them. They tell the person how good they feel about what they did, then pause so the person can also feel good about what they did. The manager encourages the person to do more of the same and expresses confidence in them and their success. One-minute praise works because it’s earned, sincere, and builds trust.

The Third Secret: One-Minute Redirects. When a manager realizes that a person’s performance in a particular area is not meeting the agreed standard, the first thing they do is to ensure that the person was clear about the initial objective she fixed herself. If it turns out that the person was not clear on the objective, the manager takes responsibility and clarifies the objective. If the person has been clear on purpose when their performance started to slip, the manager confirms the facts with the person until they come to an agreement on what happened. Then the manager asks, “How can I help you get back on track?” At the end of the conversation, the manager should let the person know that they are better than their poor performance and express confidence in the person and their future success. One-minute redirects work because they happen as soon as the manager is aware of the situation and they don’t take long. The manager focuses on the specific behavior that caused the below average performance and reaffirms the person. This process can also apply when someone makes a mistake.

You will notice that each of the three secrets is accomplished through brief but explicit conversations between the manager and the direct report. It works whether the manager and direct report are in the same room or miles apart. Communication is the key. If the manager follows the simple steps in the process, the one-minute goal, praise, or redirection will be successful. Each makes sense because it is communicated clearly and fairly from the manager.

When times are tough, mutual trust in the workplace is more important than ever. When managers are able to communicate openly with their people, when they freely share information about the organization and about themselves, team members begin to see them as human beings they can relate to. This creates an invaluable sense of connection and trust that can grow into a deep and meaningful alliance between manager and direct report.

It doesn’t take long before managers and team members realize that this type of management is the best way to maintain good relationships while encouraging accountability, high performance, and goal achievement.