The one minute manager

Since you are reading this post, you might be wondering: how can I take my people management skills to the next level?

Or you might be interested in knowing more about  The One Minute Manager, a people management book from Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.

I got to know about The One Minute Manager book when I had no clue about what to expect from this book.

In 2007, I started working with a mid-sized Software Development and Internet Marketing Company led by an American CEO.  He was a great coach and very good with training people.

Since I was hired to head their Product Development Division, soon after my joining, I was “given” the One Minute Manager Book to learn people management from and take my people management skill to the next level.

I received The One Minute Manager Book with the following handwritten remarks from the CEO:


It is great to have you on the team!

I look forward to many productive years of working together.

Enjoy the book and even more important, be the best manager your team can ever have!

Ok, we did not work together for many years, just one – but that’s another story. For now, here is what I did with the book:

I read it. I understood it a little and started acting according to the guidelines and principles offered in the book. It helped. In the last 5 years, almost everyone with whom I worked conveyed that working with me was an enjoyable ride for them.

So, here’s to the ones who want to take their people management skills to the next level.

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Years changed and my thinking got transformed from managing people to leading people. However, this book still is relevant and offers a good foundation when you need to get things done by putting in management principles in action.

In a purely results-oriented work environment, this books helps to produce relevant results in less time. Here is a quick perspective:

  1. Set goals: praise and reprimand behaviors; encourage people.
  2. Speak the truth: laugh; work; enjoy…
  3. and encourage the people you work with to do the same as you do!

Have you read this book? How did you find it? Were you able to leverage the principles outlined in the book? Share it in the comments.

Or you think you should read this book? Here’s the link from where you can buy the One Minute Manager book.

Note: This post was originally published on 9th Oct 2008. This is refined to provide better context and to include the One Minute Manager presentation that I use to make the managers working in my team better people managers.

Mini Saga – Key Discriminator

Answers like below may become key discriminator at the time of interview. However, it depends on the type of organization you’re having an interview with:

Key Discriminator

Kate appeared for a software project manager interview.

Interviewer: “Tell me about one thing you are NOT very good at?”

Kate:  “Software Programming! – That’s the reason I could focus on getting it done from other most brilliant colleague!”

This answer became the key discriminator and easier for the interviewer.

Your perception and the answers that follow your perception makes all the difference!

Smart Vs. Trustworthy

She was managing one of the most important projects of the company for the past 2 years.

One day, the junior most team member asked her if he was smart, she said, “No”. He asked him again if he thinks that he wanted to have him in her team, she said “No”. Then he asked him if there’ll be any loss to the team if he stops coming to the work, she said “No”. He thought he had heard enough and wanted to resign.

As he went back to his desk to prepare his resignation letter, she asked him to stay. She said, “You’re not smart, but you’re TRUSTWORTHY, I don’t want to have you in my team, I NEED to have you in my team. And there wouldn’t be any loss to the team if you move on, there would be NO TEAM.”

Some team members are indispensable. They are the ones who make the team. If there are no such players, there is no team.

Trustworthiness is a superior trait than smartness so is doing remarkable work. It makes you indispensable.

On confrontation

Was that confrontation essential?

That’s the question you need to ask post each confrontation.

Sure, confrontation is a powerful tool in bringing your team members to the next level but pausing and measuring the progress is even more important.

Confrontation is more of a cost v/s benefits issue so the measurement is required. And, the thing about progress is that the progress will be always positive if you let it.

The key here is to look dispassionately at the whole set of confrontation events and take corrective actions whatever those might be.

What’s the point of continuing an activity if there are no benefits?

Dumb Vs. Clueless

Your crucifying client or your difficult programmer… probably are not dumb, probably just clueless. There’s a distinction between two.

Every person takes actions based on their climate of opinions and the information at hand. If two people have the same climate of opinions and the same information, they’ll take the same action, every time, given they’re not dumb.

So, there are a lot of times where a lack of information leads to a bad choice. A lot of times where an out of sync climate of opinions leads to an inferior action.

A lot of organizations embrace a melting software development methodology instead of embracing an agile way that leads to better results. It’s probably because each of them started with a climate of opinions about the way projects worked and going to work. And to that little direct experience, and it’s no wonder they decided what they did. You would too if you were given the same imaginations, to begin with.

Changing the climate of opinion is extremely difficult and requires quite a bit of effort. Changing information at hand is relatively easier, and that’s where right communication skills can help. If you, as a communicator, can package information in a way that people with a certain climate of opinion can accept, you move the dialogue forward far more quickly than if you just conclude that your unreasonable customer or difficult boss is dumb.

I think, limiting climate of opinions (e.g. I can’t read Objective C code, I have never learned that language, ever.) is the most difficult hurdle to overcome. But a limiting climate of opinions doesn’t mean you’re dumb, it means that you’re playing yourself small.

The easiest way to arise is to inspire people who share a climate of opinion that endorses your point of view. The most effective way to arise even better than that is to inform those that disagree with your point of view more information in a luscious form.

And, unluckily, it turns out that the best way to make the world less clueless is to extend the boundaries of the persons with limiting climate of opinions.

Be specific

Observe the conversation below:

“When I say that Jack is the Module Lead and anything that goes right or wrong in the module, Jack is responsible, I’d like to know how you acknowledge it, Jack?”

Jack replied: “It means that I’m the Module Lead and anything that I code or test is my responsibility. For the items I couldn’t have a look, the person who has written the code, is responsible.”

“Vikram?” I asked Jack’s peer.

“It means that Jack should do most of the coding and testing within the module.”

“Peter?”  Finally, I asked Jack’s reporting manager.

“It means that we should tell Jack about anything that happens inside that module. After all he is the module lead. ”

I hear what you guys say. Now, let me ask you this: How should I communicate if I mean that Jack owns the module. That’s why he’s the lead. He owns good and bad things that happen inside the module. If it succeeds, all credit goes to him and if it fails, he bears all the consequences of the failure. How?

“You might say that Jack is the Module lead and anything that goes right or wrong in the module, Jack is responsible.” said Peter and Jack together.

“I hear what you say…” I said.

People respond to their own images of the past rather than the facts represented by the words. Recognize that “Not being specific” is a bigger problem than having mere skills to write the software code.

Reward whom who are able to be specific and reprimand who are not.