The One Minute Manager: Summary & Review

the one minute manager book cover

The One Minute Manager (1982) is a guide for managers on how to maximize time and employees’ morale in the most time-efficient way possible.
Based on the idea that managers are very busy, it recommends short and quick appraisals to keep employees happy and motivated.

Bullet Summary

  • Pick a few key goals and make them easy to measure and short to write -and to review!-
  • Give quick and accurate praise every time you see a positive performance
  • Give prompt and accurate criticism while making sure the employee feels valued

Full Summary

About the Authors: Kenneth Hartley Blanchard gained a Master of Arts in sociology and counseling and a Ph.D. in education administration and leadership. He also founded The Ken Blanchard Companies with his wife to provide leadership training to corporates.
Patrick Spencer Johnson was a physician and author, also famous for his children’s books and for the best-selling “Who Moved My Cheese“.

Avoid End of The Spectrum Extremisms

At the end of the spectrum, there are two types of managers who get it wrong.
They are the managers who:

  • Never tell employees what they’re not doing good to preserve the relationship
  • Only speak to employees to correct them and tell them what they’re doing wrong

Define Short and Clear Goals

Define goals with your employees that are each 250 words or less.
When you define goals so clearly and briefly you can review them in one minute or less.

You also need to keep the total number of goals manageable, or you might end up with too many goals to keep track of.
One easy way of doing just that is to focus on the 20% of tasks that will give you 80% of results (Pareto principle).

Give Immediate Positive Feedback 

Most managers give feedback only when something is wrong. This creates the wrong impression and can genera unneeded resentment and anger.

Instead, give quick praise -“one minute praise”- immediately after the employee has done something well.

Employees feel that you care about their work and contribution. It encourages them to keep up the hard work.

Employees see that someone cares about their work, and the positive reinforcement pushes them to do and deliver better and better work.

Give Immediate Criticism

Similarly, as immediate feedback, if something is not done or delivered to your satisfaction, you should let the employee know right away.

Give criticism that is fair and precise as soon as you see work that is sub-par.

Ken Blanchard says that the key to giving criticism that does not poison relationships is to give negative feedback while still communicating that, overall, you still value the employee’s work and contribution.

You do it by giving the criticism fair and square and then adding that they are valuable employees and they’re doing well in other fields.

One-minute criticisms are effective because the employee feels that they are being reviewed fairly and timely.

Let Employees Know They’ll Be Reviewed

The author recommends that before giving one-minute feedback you let the employees know they will be reviewed. if you don’t, they might feel like you are spying on them.

My Note: Telling “I’m going to review you” might feel odd
I don’t fully agree here. As a manager, your role is to look at their performance. To me, it feels much more invasive if someone would tell me “now I’m going to review you”.
Much better is to go about your life and then simply notice and catch good or poor performance alike.

the one minute manager book cover

Real-Life Applications

  • Give Criticism Right Away

The biggest takeaway for me is to give the criticism right away. If you don’t, you are basically allowing passive aggressiveness to poison your life.
You will grow resentment while the other person has no idea why.
In the workplace, that might lead to firing someone while the person had no idea they were doing a poor job. And that’s how workplaces can turn toxic without even anyone having any bad intentions.

  • Give Positive Feedback

It’s true what the author says: many do not communicate their appreciation. And that’s all goodwill that is lost.


  • Letting Employees Know You’ll Evaluate Them

The authors recommend you tell people that you are going to evaluate them.

But that feels somewhat odd because the job of a manager is to keep oversight on people.
There should be no need to say that.

When you tell them once again you’re going to evaluate them, that feels very micro-managing to me and akin to a power move. A bit as if to say “watch out, I’m watching you now”.
Not a great people’s strategy in my opinion.


  • Good Advice

The advice is very very good. Easy to implement, clear, and very effective. Thumbs up, great.

  • Simple and Clear

Many books could take a leaf out of The One Minute Manager. Clarity and simplicity make the message stronger.


I was a bit put off by the tile thinking that was a marketing ploy for rehashed information.

Instead, while it might not break any new ground, it focuses on simple and yet key advice that many managers would do very well to implement.
And not only the manager, but we could also all learn and gain hugely in giving prompt and clear praise and criticism.

Also, read:

Get the book on Amazon

Scroll to Top