Whose monkey is it anyway?

News on 06 November 2019

National Stress Awareness Day

Is running your business making you feel stressed? The myriad of demands, responsibilities and obligations can mount up and feel unbearable. And then you add people issues onto that…

So you’ve heard of the old adage “If you want a job doing, give it to a busy person”? What does that mean? Does that mean the person works tirelessly to clear that to-do list at some potentially unseen personal sacrifice? Does it mean their work colleagues take advantage of their accommodating nature and pile them high with work that they could be doing themselves?

Think of tasks and issues as monkeys, running around the office, jumping on your back and weighing you down. The office environment is a place where monkeys are traded both openly and covertly between colleagues. Our busy person has a load of monkeys running around in his pitch, and his colleagues know they’ll accommodate an additional monkey or two.

As a business owner, are you surrounded by monkeys? More importantly, how do you deal with the monkeys that your team have and maybe offer to you to keep hold of? Do you recognise this conversation:

Team member: “Hi Bruce, I’m struggling with the task you asked me to look at because of a technical problem and I’m waiting for information from Tony.”

You: “Ok Steve, I’ll talk to Tony and finish it off”

What’s happened? You’ve added a monkey to your collection. Taking the issue on is the easiest way to end what could be a long and arduous conversation, but in the long term this is potentially unsustainable for you.

One method to keep the monkey with the individual and make both your day-to-day lives more productive is a simple four step process:

  • Problem
  • Solutions
  • Resources
  • Time and Place

If you have the same approach (“Hi Bruce, I’m struggling with the task you asked me to look at because of a technical problem and I’m waiting for information from Tony”) next time, the first thing to do is say to yourself “That monkey stays with that person”. No exceptions, don’t weaken!

So the questions to ask when Steve turns up with his monkey are:

  • Can you define the issue/problem?
  • What potential solutions are there?
  • What do you need (resources/support) to do to get to a solution?
  • When and where would be a good time to chat next to agree a way forward?

This approach keeps the monkey with the individual at all times and provides a framework for them to work through a solution for themselves. You get a good solution to the issue offered to you rather than a half-baked problem review dumped on you.

If you use the four step process well, your team will soon recognise that you are a no monkey zone, and that they will be asked to provide a structured approach to dealing with issues. The “Hi Bruce, I’m struggling with the task…” approach will soon be “Hi Bruce, can we have 10 minutes tomorrow to run through the proposed solution for…”

At PitstopHR, we are well versed in dealing with all HR monkeys great and small. From £1 a day we can ensure your HR monkeys will not be jumping around on your back.