Strategy & Managing the Monkey

In the classic HBR article, Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey, the authors say this:

“Subordinate-imposed time begins the moment a monkey successfully leaps from the back of a subordinate to the back of his or her superior…”

That happens all the time and most bosses LET it happen. They let their subordinates walk up to them and with an opening line like “We’ve got a problem…”, they allow that monkey to jump on their backs.

It’s no surprise this happens. Everyone has a strategy, and in this case, the subordinate’s strategy is to get that pesky monkey off their back and onto someone else’s.

But if you and your subordinates have been trained in ThinkPoints, everything changes. You can keep that monkey where it belongs with one simple statement:

“What’s your strategy for that?”

That simple question keeps monkeys where they belong. They won’t be your responsibility for care and feeding. They’ll be taken care of by your subordinates. As they should be.