In “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey” (1984, Blanchard and Bowles), a monkey is simply “the next move” in any project. Whether it’s your subordinates or your kids passing their monkeys to your back, you probably need to stop letting them.
Authors Kenneth Blanchard, William Oncken, Jr. and Hal Burrows believe that efficient monkey management starts with only accepting (or seeking) responsibility for the monkeys your subordinates aren’t capable of caring for
This simple axiom frees the manager from tasks they shouldn’t really be doing anyway, and forces subordinates to pull their own weight.
“The Best Way to Develop Responsibility in People
is to Give Them Responsibility”
Rules for healthy monkey management:
- Every monkey, or “next move” needs to be described.
- Every monkey needs an owner – and that owner should be the lowest level employee capable of caring for it.
- Every monkey needs insurance. The manager should impose a “recommend then act”, or an “act then advise” arrangement, depending on the level of trust the subordinate engenders.
- Every monkey needs a scheduled check up appointment, soon enough to ensure that any neglected monkey can be revived.
Armed with these simple rules a manager will, according to “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey,” find themselves with more time on their hands to develop their subordinates into trusted monkey managers in their own right.
“I have learnt to replace the psychological rewards of doing with the rewards of managing, namely, deriving satisfaction from what my people do and being recognized, paid, and promoted accordingly.”
It’s a whole lot of monkey business, but this simple analogy (monkey=”next steps”) brings life, color and relatability to a set of rules that might otherwise seem obvious, perhaps even insipid. But as is often the case, a simple analogy can have the power to lend a fresh perspective to an age-old problem.