One Minute Manager
by Ken Blanchard
Here are a few lessons I've learned from my journeys as a corporate consultant:
Lessons From a Consultant
One Alabama manufacturing company brought me in to try to resolve a persistent
problem-more than 200-percent turnover. I asked if I could talk with some
of the employees who had been leaving. They responded, "Why do you
want to talk with them?" I indicated that I had a hunch I wanted to
As I suspected, it was very clear why employees were leaving: The manufacturing
floor was not air-conditioned, and at times during the summer, the temperature
rose well over 100 degrees. People indicated that if they could get any
other possible job, they would jump at it.
I reported back to management: "You need to get some air conditioning;
it's hot as heck down there." The company complied, and the problem
Lesson: Sometimes you need an outside expert to confirm what everyone
already knows is true.
In another instance, a corporate vice president asked me to work with an
employee that he was having trouble with. I asked the vice president to
make a list of the expectations he had of the employee in priority order.
I then arranged to meet with the employee. I told the employee his manager
was concerned about him and asked him what his most important job responsibilities
After the employee spoke for 15 to 20 minutes, I said, "That's interesting;
here's what your manager thinks you should be doing." I presented him
with the list. He said, "This explains quite a lot."
Several months later, I asked the vice president how his problem employee
was doing, and he responded, "Incredibly well-you really know how to
work miracles." Not being one to keep someone in the dark, I confessed
that I had shared the vice president's list of expectations with the employee.
The vice president responded, "I thought something fishy was going
Lesson: Communication is fickle-you can never be too clear about
what you expect from others. Most comparisons of job responsibilities and
priorities between managers and their employees have a 40-percent overlap,
We were once hired by a bank who wanted their tellers to be friendlier but
felt it was an impossible task because "everyone knows friendliness
is subjective." We accepted the challenge and surveyed their customers
in the bank's lobby about what made for a friendly teller, even showing
customers different pictures of tellers and having them rank the photos
in degree of friendliness.
We soon ascertained that friendly tellers (as perceived by the bank's
customers) were ones who smiled when they greeted a customer, used a customer's
name as soon as they knew it and engaged in some conversation not related
to the transaction at hand, such as "How's the weather outside this
afternoon?" or "That was a close game last night, wasn't it?"
Lesson: If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. If you ever
doubt this, eliminate the job or activity and see if anyone notices!
Finally, I was once asked to resolve a personality conflict between a company
president and his girlfriend, who also happened to be one of his company's
top salespeople. In a similar case, I was asked to resolve a work dispute
between a woman and her daughter. I politely declined both assignments.
Lesson: Know when problems are better resolved by those already in
the middle of the situation!
None of these lessons may seem like rocket science, but you can never underestimate
the value of well-placed common sense-especially when it appears not to
be common practice.
About the author . . .
Ken Blanchard is co-author of the best-selling One Minute Manager
series of books. He has written and co-authored 11 other books. His latest
book is Everyone's a Coach, co-authored with Don Shula.
© 1996 by Blanchard Management Report, Blanchard Training and Development
Inc., Attn.: Bob Nelson, Publisher, 125 State Place, Escondido, CA 92029.
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