Monkey Management

Topics: Problem solving, Management, Monkey Pages: 7 (1045 words) Published: November 16, 2010
Have you ever wished there were 12 hours is a work day or that you had an extra

set of hands? This is the sentiments of a monkey manager. According to William

Oncken , author of Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey, calls “a monkey any

idea, opportunity or task that when you try to delegate it lands on your back”


_Simple_Solutions_to_Reclaim_Your_Time,_Focus,_and_Sanity). Most often, a

monkey comes alive when there is bottle neck due to the inability or lack of authority to

make decisions to solve a problem. “The monkey on your back in other words if you find

that tasks, projects and deliverables that you delegate to other people don't get

accomplished and somehow end up back in your lap to complete, then you have a

monkey management challenge”



In other words, how does one manage the monkey management challenge?

There are several key phrases that managers use which can easily identify a monkey

management problem. “You probably have a Monkey Management problem if you find

yourself trying to delegate but say things like:

Don't worry about it; I'll take care of it.
If you have problems, just give me a call.
If you can't do it I'll figure out how to get it done.
You don't have time? OK, well I can knock it out pretty fast. •I'll find someone to do it for you”



There are three simple yet effective solutions to avoid monkey management.

“1. Make sure that the person you are delegating to understands how much

authority and autonomy they have in completing the task. Do they need to check with you

or can they use discretion to complete on their own?

2. Determine a specific date to get a check in on the status of the project. If there

is no 'deadline' to communicate progress, other projects will somehow become more


3. Never hand off a task without a complete and thorough plan of how the project

or task will be accomplished. Be sure to check for knowledge, resources and time

availability by the person assigned to the project”



Managers need many skills in order to manage people and many skills to manage

the monkeys. Skills such as:

“Proper delegation skills, properly applied as suggested in this creative approach,

can help managers better solve problems and develop their employees' problem solving


Visualizing each problem as a monkey that is impatient and noisy can help

managers see problems as they really are and address them in the best possible way

Refusing to accept problems that subordinates try to delegate upward, and instead

giving them opportunities to meet with you to "feed the monkey" is the best choice for

both the monkey and for its keeper. The employee who is closest to the problem usually

has the knowledge and skill to solve the problem, if empowered to do so.

Consultations with the manager will serve to broaden perspective and offer new

ways of seeing the problem. And as the employee feeds and eventually solves the

problem, he or she learns important skills that make them more valuable to the

organization and to the managers” (

“In addition to the law of monkey management, the authors list six rules of

managing monkeys that are instructive to managers. These include:
Monkeys should be fed or shot. No one likes the consequences of a starving


References: Retrieved on May 3, 2010.
Simple_Solutions_to_Reclaim_Your_Time,_Focus,_and_Sanity. Retrieved on
May 3, 2010.
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