The Third Secret: One Minute Reprimands
THE next morning he arrived at Ms. Brown’s office at the stroke of nine. A very smartly dressed woman in her late 50’s greeted him. He got the usual, “He’s quite a guy, isn’t he?” routine, but by now the young man was getting to the point where he could sincerely say, “Yes, he is!”
“Did he tell you about being a One Minute Manager?” asked Ms. Brown.
“That’s all I’ve been hearing about,” the young man said laughing. “It’s not true, is it?” he asked, still wondering if he’d get a different answer.
“You’d better believe it is. I hardly ever see him.”
“You mean you don’t have much contact with him,” pursued the young man, “outside your regular weekly meeting?”
“Essentially very little. Except of course, when I do something wrong,” said Ms. Brown.
Shocked, the young man said, “You mean the only time you see the One Minute Manager is when you do something wrong?”
“Yes. Well, not quite,” said Ms. Brown, “but almost.”
“But I thought a key motto around here was catching people doing things right.”
“It is,” insisted Brown. “But you have to know some things about me.”
“What?” asked the young man.
“I’ve been working here for quite a few years. I know this operation inside and out. As a result, the One Minute Manager doesn’t have to spend much time with me, if any, on goal setting. In fact, I usually write out my goals and send them over to him.”
“Is each goal on a separate sheet of paper?” asked the young man.
“You bet. No longer than 250 words and each one takes me or the One Minute Manager only a minute to read.
“Another thing about me that’s important is that I just love my work. As a result, I do most of my own One Minute Praisings. In fact, I believe if you’re not for yourself, who is? A friend of mine told me a motto I’ll always remember: ‘If you don’t blow your own horn, someone else will use it as a spittoon.’ “
The young man smiled. He liked her sense of humor. “Does your manager ever praise you?” he asked.
“Sometimes he does, but he doesn’t have to do it very often because I beat him to the punch,” answered Ms. Brown. “When I do something especially good, I might even ask the One Minute Manager for a praising.”
“How would you ever have the nerve to do that?” asked the young man.
“It’s easy. Just like making a bet where I either win or I break even. If he gives me the praising, I win.”
“But if he doesn’t?” the young man broke in.
“Then I break even,” responded Ms. Brown. “I didn’t have it before I asked.”
The young man smiled as he took note of Ms. Brown’s philosophy, and then continued.
“You said he spends time with you when you do something wrong. What do you mean?” asked the young man.
“If I make a significant mistake, that’s when I invariably get a One Minute Reprimand,” Ms. Brown said.
“A what?” the startled young man asked.
“A One Minute Reprimand,” Ms. Brown repeated. “That’s the third secret to becoming a One Minute Manager.”
“How does it work?” wondered the young man out loud.
“It’s simple,” said Ms. Brown.
“I figured you’d say that,” said the young man.
Ms. Brown joined his laugh and explained, “If you have been doing a job for some time and you know how to do it well, and you make a mistake, the One Minute Manager is quick to respond.”
“What does he do?” asked the young man.
“As soon as he has learned about the mistake he comes to see me. First he confirms the facts. Then he might put his hand on my shoulder or maybe just come around to my side of the desk.”
“Doesn’t that bother you?” asked the young man.