Najeeb Al Awadi's Blog

Monkeys Theory!

Posted on: October 5, 2009

I’ve read an interesting article, once, in the Business Harvard Reports. It shows what the management style is, and suggests how it should be, for better time management. I thought I can share with you, today, some parts of it…

Ever wondered why you have too many problems – too many monkeys – on your back?!

Ever noticed that all too often, you find yourself running out of time, while your subordinates are running out of work?!

This is the case of an overburdened manager, who has unintentionally taken on all of his/ her subordinates’ problems/ monkeys, which is in clear conflict with time management.

Who’s working for whom?

In accepting a monkey, the manager is voluntarily assuming a position subordinate, to his/ her subordinate. By which a manager accepts a responsibility, promises to provide a progress report, and is being supervised thereafter when asked: “How is it going?”.

The more monkeys a manager takes and gets caught up, the more he/ she will fall behind. The manager is eventually caught in a vicious circle…

Getting rid of monkeys

A manager should believe that; at no time while helping subordinates, that their problems become his/ her own. And that in those rare cases, he/ she with the subordinate will together determine if the next move should be the manager’s.

This way, the manager is transferring initiatives back to his/ her subordinates, and keeps it there.

Also, a manager and his/ her subordinate cannot effectively have the same initiative, simultaneously. A monkey may not astride two backs.

Care& Feeding of monkeys

Here are five strict rules governing the care& feeding of monkeys. Violation of these rules will cost more time loss:-

  1. Monkeys should be fed or shot. Otherwise, a manager will waste valuable time on resurrections

  2. Monkeys’ population should be kept below the maximum number a manager has time to feed. It shouldn’t take more than 5-15 min. to feed a properly maintained monkey

  3. Monkeys should be fed by appointment only

  4. Monkeys should be fed face-2-face or by telephone, but never by mail. Documentation may add to the feeding process, but it shouldn’t replace it

  5. Every monkey should have an assigned next feeding time& degree of initiative. Never allowed to become vague or indefinite

Bosses are found that they cannot just give a monkey back to their subordinates, and then just merely get on with their own business. Empowering subordinates is a hard& complicated work.

Empowerment often means that you have to develop people. This is initially much more time consuming than solving the problem on your own. But more important about empowerment, is that effective delegation, which depends on a trusting relationship between a manager and his/ her subordinate.

Thus, executives need to establish a running dialogue with subordinates, establishing a partnership. After all, if subordinates are afraid of failing in front of their bosses, they’ll keep coming back for help, rather than take initiatives.

Further, working on time management requires people to categorize their activities according to urgency& importance.

Those who spend half or more of their time on matters that are urgent but not important, are trapped in an endless cycle of other’s monkeys. Yet, they’re reluctant to help those concerned take their own initiative.

Wrapping up this post, I’d like to conclude with these questions„

Bosses; How effective is your delegation in reducing the passage of monkeys to you, and why?

Subordinates; How often are you passing your monkeys to your bosses, and why?


4 Responses to "Monkeys Theory!"

As a subordinate, I have a boss that I’ve once approached him with a monkey/problem, and his immediate reply to me was: “I’m not convinced”!!!
Such cold& passive reaction has provoked& motivated me to an extent that it got me on my toes for a continuous 3:30 hrs, to excute the task successfully. He realy knew how to ignite& trigger the GIANT inside me, implying all the trust in my hidden potential.
How often; not much. because I’ve started saying it to “me”… and it’s giving me the needed power, while working perfectly.
Challanging myself to handle my own monkeys, gives me a great deal of pleasure& self satisfaction, where it eventually leads to distinguished accomplishments.
Back to you Eng. Najeeb, you’ve been away for quite some time now. Any special reason, are you pre-occupied with others’ monkeys, or what?!

Dear Bu Mohammad,
This is a very nice article, it talks about managing work load, time management, management styles, and a above all EMPOWERMENT. Today I will send you a presentation titled: ” Empowerment Takes More than a Minute” Author: A friend of mine (A Management Coach from EQUATE).
Furthermore, my answer to your question: As a subordinate, how often are you passing your monkeys to your boss, and why?
My answer is a monkey per week due to the changes in my role as well as the drastic reduction in the number of my subordinates.
Thanks for sharing the information.

please elaborate with the term monkey

this is a very interesting blog .. keep it up 🙂

good luck 🙂

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