Stop the Monkey from Jumping


You have probably heard the old axiom ‘monkey on the shoulder’ that denotes a problem or a task that someone is dealing with. Too many monkeys on the shoulder weigh that person down with a workload that adds pressure to get them done in the time available.

The quickest way to get rid of a monkey and ease the pressure is to give it to someone else. The person who can’t say NO ends up with many monkeys and a huge workload. To avoid being burdened with extra work, stop the monkey from jumping off someone else’s shoulder on to yours.

Unfortunately some people are just too willing to help with other’s issues and they take on extra work to help out, often being taken advantage of by those who see how easy it is to avoid having to resolve issues or carry out tasks. Unwary Bosses take on unnecessary work of their subordinates who subtly couch the “ monkey on their shoulder’ as an issue they are grappling with and need the Boss to help. The Boss, being experienced and capable, knows how to resolve the issue or how to tackle the task, and takes on the responsibility of doing it, thus relieving the subordinate of a monkey, which then sits on the Boss’s shoulder.

The subordinate now hovers in the background waiting for the Boss to resolve the issue or complete the task. The Boss may allow other subordinates to release their monkeys onto his shoulder and before long; we have the Boss doing most of the work, and under pressure, while the employees are relatively relaxed.

By allowing monkeys to jump from the shoulders of others on to his shoulder encourages others to feel free to approach him at any time and unload their burden. Added to the pressure on his time, are the number of interruptions he will get each day from people asking his advice or seeking help to complete a project. Interruptions are huge time wasters as it breaks into the thought process and it takes time to get back on track with the subject that was being dealt with before the interruption.

To stop the monkey from jumping, learn to avoid tasks that should not be your responsibility. Learn to say no. Make any excuse, just avoid being too accommodating and willing to help out others.

As a Boss, give guidance but do not take on the task. Ask subordinates to figure out the issue themselves or attempt the task themselves. You as a Boss can guide them, offer advice when they are stuck and monitor their work. After all, that is what a Boss is for.

Terry Sorour

Leader Coaching

September 2016

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *