Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Upwardly Mobile Monkey

I was reminded of the "other" monkey parable at a recent national Summit of Chief Executive Boards International. Here's a link to the first one:

This article has to do with upward organizational mobility of monkeys. Ever have someone come into your office or stop you in the hallway or on the plant floor and tell you about a problem? And ever leave that conversation with yourself owning that problem? Happens all the time, doesn't it?

Or maybe it doesn't happen to you, but to one of your managers -- accepting upwardly-delegated problems from his subordinates. Perhaps you can use this story with him.

Next time that happens, turn on your imagination for a minute. Visualize that problem as a monkey on the back of the employee. He's been carrying that monkey around for awhile -- ranging from a few minutes to several days or weeks. He's tired of it, and may not know how to get it off his back & returned to the floor where monkeys belong. Or he's tried a few things to get rid of it, and it's just kept its furry little monkey arms firmly clasped around his neck. Got that picture in your mind?
Having not been able to unload that monkey, the employee is now looking for someone else to carry it around for awhile (he doesn't really care whether the monkey ultimately gets dropped to the floor -- just that it won't be on his back any more).

And then a magical thing happens. In your "go-to-guy", problem-solving way, you say something like "I'll take care of that." And that monkey leaps off the employee's back and onto yours! And then his furry little monkey arms are clasped around your neck. And the monkey is thrilled. Now he gets to ride around bigger offices, fancier cars, better clubs, etc. than he ever would have seen riding on the employee's back! He's moved up the organization!

And if this is a general habit of yours, he's even got company. There are other monkeys also on your back, and he's got a play group.

Most of us are looking for less stress and more free time to enjoy the rewards of business ownership. These monkeys get in the way of that. Monkeys are actually supposed to be downwardly mobile, handed down from yourself through your senior managers, and ultimately to be returned to the floor by people farther down the organization. If monkey handling is taking up more time in your life than it should, practice putting them on other people's backs.

Here's an article on a way to do that:

If you have some ways you eradicate monkeys from your back, would you click "Comment" below and share them with us?

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International
864 527-5917

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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