No time for leadership? Become a one minute manager!

There is no doubt that managers today are under pressure. Highly competitive market places, disruptive technology and high expectations from new generations of employees.

I often hear managers express comments like “would love to do much more, but I have very limited time for leadership”.

I believe that many organizations could benefit from setting aside more time for leadership. Surveys have shown repeatedly that one of the most important reasons for lack of employee engagement and talent attrition is the relationship (or lack of the same) with the direct manager.

However, until we manage to convince organizations to do this, there is a few good hints available in a classic book well known among executives but perhaps less so with younger managers.

I am talking about “the one minute manager” from 1982 by Ken Blanchard – whom we also know for his work on situational leadership.

The book is a very amusing read and contains a simple idea: Leadership should be immediate, brief and targeted

Blanchard talks about three aspects of one minute management:

  • One minute goals: As we all know, setting expectations is highly important, yet often forgotten. However, it does not have to be a long and cumbersome process. A brief conversation, followed up by a mail may be sufficient to ensure a common understanding between the manager and the employee of objectives for a certain task
  • One minute praisings: Again, providing feedback is often forgotten – in particular the positive feedback. A few words of appreciation is like a magic motivator, because it makes the recipient feel good
  • One minute reprimands: The classic burger model of feedback does not work, simply because it is so well known that it is experienced as dishonest. In stead, Blanchard recommends one minute reprimands. One minute reprimands work because they are honest, brief and undramatic. Important though is to sustain the self confidence of the recipient by referring. For example, a great way to deliver a reprimand is to provide for a quality problem would be “I was surprised to learn about this quality problem – this is so unlike you, because you always deliver great work. What happened?”.

An important point is that one minute reprimands work as a motivator only if the manager has done his job in terms of one minute goals and one minute praisings

Another key point is that it is important to deliver one minute praisings and one minute reprimands immediately at the time of occurrence, ie when the employee did something worth noting (good or bad)

I highly recommend these techniques, they really work and has helped be improve my upward feedback significantly over time.

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