Book Review: The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard Ph. D. and Spencer Johnson MD.

by Ken Blanchard, Ph.D., and Spencer Johnson, MD. NY: William Morrow, 2015.

Book Reviewed by Diane Byington, Ph. D.

the-new-one-minute-manager-book-coverChances are you’re one of the 15 million people who have read the original One Minute Manager published in 1982. It’s a small book that requires only about an hour to read and uses a parable to teach three crucial management skills (called “secrets”) that, once learned, will probably stick in your memory forever. So why revise such a valuable resource? I was curious, so I compared The New One Minute Manager with the original version.

In the introduction to the new version, authors Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson discuss the differences in the world in the more than thirty years since the original book was published. “Today, organizations must respond faster, with fewer resources, to keep up with ever-changing technology and globalization.”

True. The constantly increasing pace of life has transformed the way we work. Still, the underlying principles of management should be the same. Or are they?

The fictional manager of the 1980s made it clear what employees’ responsibilities were and how they would be held accountable. But management has changed, according to The New One Minute Manager. The manager in the new edition discusses the problems with top-down management: “Today that structure is too slow. It doesn’t inspire people and it stifles innovation. Customers demand quicker service and better products, so we need everyone to contribute their talent.” This leads to the necessity of collaboration in goal setting, decision-making, and strategizing. So, The First Secret: One Minute Goals remains essentially the same, except that goal-setting is now a collaborative exercise.

The Second Secret: One Minute Praisings hasn’t changed significantly. Catching people doing something right and telling them how much you appreciate it is still a critical management skill.

The Third Secret, which was originally the One Minute Reprimand, is now the One Minute Re-Direct. Maybe the word “reprimand” sounds too severe for today’s workplace. The concept of re-directing someone is definitely more collaborative, although it still isn’t a pleasant experience for either employee or the manager. This skill involves managers reviewing an employee’s mistake with the employee, expressing how they feel about the mistake and its impact on results, and telling the employee that they think well of him or her as a person and have confidence that performance will improve. And when the Re-Direct is over, it’s over.

Bottom line, this new version will be a classic to keep on your shelf for years, and it will replace the old one, which is probably tattered and falling apart from all the times you’ve consulted it. Right?

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