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The One Minute Manager in Non-formal Education Sector

The concept of “The One Minute Manager” of Ken Blanchard is one of the great inventions in the field of organization behavior and leadership.

The concept of “The One Minute Manager” of Ken Blanchard is one of the great inventions in the field of organization behavior and leadership.



The concept of “The One Minute Manager” of Ken Blanchard is one of the great inventions in the field of organization behavior and leadership. The core of this book is the “direction and motivation” which should be created by the organizational leaders. The activities of direction can be done by establishing a clear and specific organization goal and the motivational activities will be undertaken by creating a feel free environment with total participation.

In the field of non-formal education, one of the challenging activities is to establish total participation in the community for development. However, this paper has been attempted to make a link between the concept of “one minute manager” that means the managerial activities according to these book and the organizational leadership in non-formal education sector.

Objective of the paper

* To make a summary of the book “One Minute Manager”
* To identify the leadership style of the book of One Minute Manager
* To apply and analyze the impact of the leadership of one minute manager in non-formal education.

One Minute Manager – A symbol

The One Minute Manager’s symbol – a “one minute” readout from the face of modern digital watch – is intended to remind each of us to take a minute out of our day to look the faces of the people we manage. And to realize that they are our most important resources. Here the word “one minute” is a figurative word which convey the message of “without making any delay” or “before you lose the perfect time” or “make the best use of time”. This is a story book of a young man who was looking for a perfect manager. And this story became the symbol of the characteristics of a perfect manager in organization.

The summary of One Minute Manager

The One Minute Manager, was written in 1982, has sold millions of copies but still makes appearances in Amazon’s list of best-selling business books. With very busy people as its target audience, it is designed to be read very quickly. In fact, the 96 pages of large type can be completed in little over an hour of concentrated reading. You have to tell yourself very firmly before starting the book that you will concentrate on the messages rather than the style otherwise you may fail to take some of the very worthwhile lessons on board or, even worse, fail to even reach the end of this very short book. For the rest of this book review therefore, it has been focused on the lessons rather than the style.

The philosophy of the one-minute manager rests on the implementation of three ideas, namely: the need to establish clear-cut goals, the need to praise good performance, and the need to reprimand people when their performance fails to contribute to the attainment of commonly agreed goals. These three basic ideas are known as the three secrets of the one-minute manager, namely: one-minute goals, one-minute praising and one-minute reprimands.

The First Secret: One-Minute Goals. All good performance starts with clear goals. If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. If we want to go to improve the performance of people all over this country, the simplest and easiest way would be to make sure people have clear goals.

It is amazing how often people are told about the power of goal setting, yet how few times there is agreement between what a person says their job involves and what their manager says it involves. Goals still tend to be set in organizations after someone does something wrong or doesn’t do what is expected. Then the goal is made clear.

The secret of One-Minute Goals is simply to agree on your goals upfront so that it will be clear what good behavior looks like. Organization managers can write out each of the goal on a single sheet of paper or index card. Limit the number of goals to three to five. Identify what the present level of performance is on each goal and then what level is desired. The discrepancy between the actual and the desired goal becomes the area for improvement. Choose a deadline for reaching that new level. Make several copies of those goals for work so it can be referred daily. Look at the goals, then look at the behavior of the organization people and the manager himself and see if the behavior matches those goals or not.

The Second Secret: One-Minute Praising. The key to developing people will always be to concentrate on catching them doing something right instead of something wrong. Yet most people are still managed by being basically left alone until they make a mistake that’s noticeable and then their boss criticizes them. The author called this situation a “leave alone zap” management style or “Sea gull management.” Sea gull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, and then fly out.

The manager should tell people upfront that he is going to let them know how they are doing. Then there are three main things that the managers need to emphasize with praising. First, be immediate. Don’t save praising for a holiday. Second, be specific. Just saying to someone, “good job,” is nice but it is not very helpful because they do not know specifically what is good so that they could do it again. Third, share your feelings about their work. The manager should tell people how good he feels about what they did that was right, and how it helps the organization and the other people who work there. Then the manager will stop for a moment of silence to let them enjoy “feeling” how good you feel. End with a reaffirmation and encourage them to keep up the good work.

Remember to praise progress even if it is only approximately right. Perfect behavior is a journey that happen one step at a time. A manager’s job is to manage the progress toward the goal. A good manager thus constantly looks for opportunities to praise progress or to redirect.

The Third Secret: One-Minute Reprimands. What does the manager does when people do not perform well or make limited or no progress toward their goals? He has to hold them accountable.

The first alternative for poor performance should be redirection, which means going back to goal setting trying to find out what went wrong and getting them back on track. Never reprimand or punish a learner – then the manager may immobilize them. If you are dealing with somebody who knows better, who as performed a similar task well in the past, then a One-Minute Reprimand might be appropriate.

The manager should tell people beforehand that he is going to let them know — in no uncertain terms how they are doing. Reprimand people immediately. The manager has to tell people exactly how he feels about what they did wrong. After that the manager will give a pause to help his transition from his feelings to set-up the last and probably the most important part of a reprimand: reaffirmation. The manager will reaffirm that he think well of them but not of their performance in this situation. His intent is to get them back on course, not to try to make them feel badly. He has to remind them how much he values them. At last, he will realize that when the reprimand is over, it’s over, it will not continue so long.

These Three Secrets can help any person to act as a manager to be the coach in the workplace, at home or on the playing field anywhere.

Another book of ken Blanchard “Leading at a Higher Level” expressed some other direction for the leaders for implements these three secrets. According to the writer, without clear goal setting, the situational leadership does not work, because development activities are task oriented where the task should be specific. Besides, Ken Blanchard also gave direction how to make the goal more clear and specific and that is, the “SMART”, this is the acronym for most important factors while goal setting.

Specific and measureable: Identify the specific area to be improved and make goal which is observable and measureable.

Motivating: Make the goal by describing how each or everyone’s contribution will improve the performance in the organization. Then this goal will motivate the personnel.

Attainable: The goal must be attainable. When the staffs will achieve any goal they will be motivated for the next goal. But if the goal is impossible to reach then they will lose their strength to go ahead.

Relevant: It is very important that the goal ought to be relevant related with the activities.

Track able and time-bound: If the goal can be described with time bound, then the staff will feel disciplined. Here the manager’s duty is to coach the subordinate to do good performance for the nearby destination.

The Fourth Secret: However, after writing the book “one minute manager” the writer Ken Blanchard wrote the subsequent book and that is “The One Minute apology: The Way to Make things Better”. In this book he described the fourth secret of the one minute manager, the apology. As a human being some time managers can do something wrong. At that time he should apologize for his mistake and has to say sorry to others. The writer gave two ways to do that first, manager should apology being with surrender and second, his apology will end up with integrity. Finally, the manager can improve the situation which has been occurred due to manager’s fault.

One Minute Manager and Leadership

According to Ken Blanchard and Fred Finch, in leadership there is 80/ 20 rule, that if the leaders give 80% of their effort the the result will come 20% and that will be from the subordinates (Leading in Higher Level, page 145). Moreover, these writers indicated the concept of one minute manger is the perfect example of that this 80/20 rule. Because the concept of one minute manager is about how a manager should behave towards his subordinates to get the highest or optimum services. Here the manager is the leaders in the organization. The leadership style of the book “one minute manager” support the situational leadership in any organization.

There are two issues which are essential to anyone wishing to teach, lead, or manage an organization. They are The One Minute Manager and Leadership. The concepts Leadership and the One Minute Manager outline four leadership styles which can be used effectively to reach people with different levels of knowledge and motivation. These styles and their appeal are as follows:

Style 1: DIRECTING: The leader provides specific instruction and closely supervises task accomplishment.

Style 2: COACHING: The leader continues to direct and closely supervise task accomplishment, but also explains decisions, solicits suggestions, and supports progress.

Style 3: SUPPORTING: The leader facilitates and supports subordinates efforts toward task accomplishment shares responsibility for decision making with them.

Style 4: DELEGATING: The leader turns over responsibility for decision-making and problem-solving to subordinates.

These leadership styles are very different yet each can be effective with the right target audience. In fact, what will work with one group might not work with another. Leadership and the One Minute Manager also points out that “there is nothing as unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.” The managers must get across the idea that the performance of our troops does make a difference. Usually people lose their interest and commitment only after they realize that their performance doesn’t make a difference.

Besides here another term is related also and that is, Discipline, in an effort to ensure that people can know that their performance does make a difference leadership should work to ensure discipline and morale. Lawrence P. Crocker, USA, lists two things which are essential for discipline in a military organization. First, the leader must be careful that orders are militarily correct and capable of execution by subordinates. Secondly, the leader must ensure by observation that orders are meticulously complied with by each individual. After observing, then the manager can undertake the massage of praising or reprimanding.

One of the most difficult things for an officer to do, especially in an organization consisting of volunteers, is to exercise discipline. There are certain things which an officer can and must do if he/she is to maintain order and unit cohesion. It is the duty and responsibility of the commander to insure that discipline is maintained within the unit. That is a part of leadership. Some people may still think of discipline as the old fashion formation where the commander rants and raves for about an hour. I am happy to announce that this concept is now dead and gone in most places. It was ineffective in the past and is now a dangerous practice for many reasons.

This is an over simplification of a valid management theory but “it only takes a minute” to give someone praise or a reprimand. If it takes longer than that there is probably something wrong with the “Boss.” A careful reading of Putting the One Minute Manager to Work should help solve this problem. The argument of that book is that it should take only a minute to get your point across.

Leadership of One Minute Manager in Non-formal Education Sector

While the characteristics of formal education seem self-evident, non-formal education is a bit more difficult to define. In fact, there are many different definitions of Non-Formal Education (NFE), and a number of perspectives about the true meaning of the term. NFE is defined differently by different practitioners—some say that NFE is any out-of-school learning, others stress that participants need to design their own learning activities, while others say that non-formal teaching methods can be incorporated into all learning. Whatever the perspective is, it is clear that NFE work with the people who are excluded and out of formal education sector. The characteristic of the target group in non-formal education is the target group is too much diversified and unpredictable. In this circumstance, the organizations which are working in this sector are taking the challenge of making this target group enthusiast and attract them to participate in development activities.  While handling this challenge, now a day the organization is facing the common problem which can be defined as lack of “motivation”.

However this lack of motivation and lack of participation can occur both in target group and among the organizational personnel itself. In both case, the manager and the leader of any non-formal organization, must manage the situation tactfully. The managerial activities of the book of “one minute manager” can be applied and analyzed in this circumstance. The following are some direction of the leaders to use this concept in the area of target group and among the organization;

Target group: The challenge is to motivate the community and make them participate in development activities. So the manager or the immediate leaders can undertake the following activities. Here the important point is while implementing any program in the community who are the manager; it may the field teacher or instructor in any developmental training activities. However the mid level managers (program officer, program coordinator and so on) also have managerial contribution in field level to motivate and to make total participation of community people. Such as-

1. One minute goal setting: When the organization make the goal of the program, it should be stated to the customers (community people) so that they will have clear idea what is going to be and what is their benefit from that program. At that time, the community people will be motivated to participate. Here, the responsibility of clarifying the goal is upon the mid level managers and field level manager such teachers, instructors, or the program officers.

2. One minute praising: This is very important while undertaking any program, especially when it comes to working with disadvantaged group. If the instructors in the field praise the people in the community for their performance in development activities, then they will be cheerful after getting their recognition and then they will become much more active in the development activities in the program in NFE sectors.

3. One minute apologize: In this context, it is vital to apply one minute apologize instead of one minute reprimanding, because community emotion is very sensitive issue and complex so the program instructor should be careful enough to apply the concept of reprimand. On the other hand, if there is any error occurs because of the organization management or the instructor’s management, it is not better but best idea to apologize for that to the community. Then the community people will feel being respected and they will respect and will give importance to the organization also.

However, these managerial activities are not only for the field level managers who will be related directly with the field but also for the upper level managers. They should to undertake frequent field visit to the community and carry on the above activities to create motivation and establish total participation in development program in Non formal education sector.

Inside organization

Like other business organization, in non formal education organization the above four ideas of encouraging or motivating subordinates must be applied. The consequences of these concepts will be the same like other organization. The leader or manager of any NGO should undertake these four secrets. However, it is a chain system such as in a NGO, the “boss” will motivate the mid level managers; the middle manager will motivate his next staff, the ground level manager will encourage his next workers and then ultimately the consequence will be optimum and the “boss” will be motivated.

In non-formal education, one of the most important and difficult factors is the finance management. Sometime the manager cannot reward the staffs by finance because of the shortage of fund. In this condition, manager can make immediate satisfaction to the staff with his behavior.


Therefore, from the above discussion, it can be seen that the concept and the leadership style of the book and the series of “One Minute Manager” is unique and universal. Although, this book and the concepts have been written in the context of business organization but those can be applied in any organization of any sector and in any country.

However, the impact of the concepts and the theory of this book will have great contribution in the field of non-formal education sector, in the community level as well as inside the organization. So our manager should move from now before the one minute passed away.  


1. Blanchard K., Johnson S.,(1982), “One Minute Manager”, U.S.A.
2. Blanchard K. & et al, (2006), “Leading at the Higher Level”, U.S.A.

Author: Research Associate, Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Email:

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