Goals begin behaviors. Consequences maintain behaviors.

Last month I finished reading “The One Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson M.D. Who knew such a thin book could contain so much wisdom!

There’s a lot of content in this tiny book. Today I wanted to focus on the section I found the most helpful – the one minute reprimand.

Do you have a hard time disciplining your direct reports? Do you hold back because you think you’re being too strict? Do you let their poor performance sneak by because you’re afraid of confronting them?

“The feedback on the one minute reprimand is immediate. That is, you get to the individual as soon as you observe the misbehavior or your data information system tips you off. It is not appropriate to gunnysack or save up negative feelings about someone’s poor performance.” – Blanchard and Johnson

I read in different business books that you’re not meant to address bad behavior the first time you witness it. I always thought you were supposed to wait for 3 instances of the bad behavior before you confronted your direct reports on the issue.

Now I see the benefits of confronting the behaviors right when you witness it. It’s more powerful because it’s still fresh and the feedback is clear because it’s so immediate.

But be careful not to act if you only hear about the bad behavior second-hand:

“Before giving a reprimand you have to see the behavior yourself – you can’t depend on what someone else saw. You never give a reprimand on hearsay.” – Blanchard and Johnson

And here’s the formula that describes how you deliver the one minute reprimand:

“These three basic ingredients: telling people what they did wrong, telling people how you feel about it, and reminding people that they are valuable and worthwhile lead to significant improvements in people’s behavior.” – Blanchard and Johnson

Keep your focus on the behavior:

“It’s very important when you are managing people to remember that behavior and worth are not the same things. What is really worthwhile is the person managing their own behavior. If you are first tough on the behavior, and then supportive of the person, it works.” – Blanchard and Johnson

Sometimes it’s easier to just let bad behavior slide. You don’t want to be too harsh right? Wrong, you need to care.

“Sometimes you have to care enough to be tough. And I am. I am very tough on poor performance – but only on the performance. I am never tough on the person. The people he worked with felt that he was honestly on their side from the very beginning. And that made all the difference.” – Blanchard and Johnson

Did this post on the one minute reprimand clarify your role as a manager? Contact me, I’d love to hear about it!

Rules for Reading More

I read some of these book reviews and takeaway posts at the marketing meetings at work. When I finished reading the latest one, someone asked me how I read so much. “Do you read a book a week?” I shared a quick tip, “It’s important to have about 7 books going at the same time to make sure you don’t get bored with any one book.”

This question kept popping into my mind as the week went on. Finally, I sat down and came up with a list of ways I push myself to read more to share with the marketing team.

Here’s my list of rules for reading more. First I’ll sum them up. Then I’ll list each one out and elaborate on why it made it onto this list. Here we go.

Rules for Reading More:

  1. Read at least 5-7 books at a time.
  2. Stick to the “10 pages or I’m out” rule.
  3. Diversify your reading collection.
  4. Go for a chapter then take a break.
  5. Set a timer and stick to it.

Read at least 5-7 books at a time.

That way you won’t get bored with any particularly boring chapter in a book. Here’s a list of the books I’m currently reading. Notice the mix of non-fiction and fiction:

Stick to the “10 pages or I’m out” rule.

Someone suggested that I read “Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner. It’s a book that I’ve heard a lot of great things about but I had never read it. So I borrowed it from the library. Then I started to read it. Very dry, very archaic, ultimately boring.

Never stick with a book that can’t hold your attention for the first 10 pages. If the writer didn’t invest enough effort to make the first 10 pages as compelling as possible, there’s a good chance he won’t have put in enough effort to keep your interest on page 100. Sorry Mr. Faulkner. No time.

Diversify your reading collection.

Do you love non-fiction books because you can apply their wisdom to your life? Get a compelling fiction book like “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline to balance it out. You want to give your brain a rest after it’s been too deep into the non-fiction books.

Video games are made up of really tough sections moderated by very easy sections to keep you playing. Think about reading like this. Do the heavy lifting, then switch up to tiny fiction weights to give your brain a rest and let your soul feast.

Go for a chapter then take a break.

There’s a famous book on writing called “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamont. The book gets its name from a story the author tells about her little brother in middle school. He needed to write a report on the 50 state birds.

He waits until the night before it’s due to start the paper and he’s miserable. Just as he’s about the give up, his dad gives him some simple advice, “Take it bird by bird.” In the same way, don’t look at the book as 300 pages, look at it as 30 chapters, broken up for you to take breaks between long stretches of reading.

Keep in mind that this is not a hard and fast rule. If you’re reading a chapter and just can’t make it, cut yourself some slack. Even if you read a single page it’s good enough. Don’t burn out with reading. Be kind to yourself.

Set a timer and stick to it.

Buddhist meditators set a timer for themselves sometimes. The timer isn’t set to tell them when the sitting is finished. No, it’s actually a more subtle maneuver.  They set the timer so that when they do the meditation they know that they owe the world nothing for this solid hour.

By setting a timer you don’t need to attend to anything else in the world. Everything can manage without your thinking and attention for 1 hour. In setting this timer, you are allowing yourself full access to the task at hand.

Finally, here’s the list again:

  1. Read at least 5-7 books at a time.
  2. Stick to the 10 pages or I’m out rule.
  3. Diversify your reading collection.
  4. Go for a chapter then take a break.
  5. Set a timer and stick to it.

I hope this list has helped you learn how to read more. It works for me. I’m always looking to add to this list so if you have any other tips that might help me out and contact me!