Essay about Managing You Time - "Who's Got the Monkey"

Words: 3013
Pages: 13

An analogy that underscores the value of assigning, delegating and controlling

Richard T. Christensen, Management Consultant

In any organization, the manager's bosses, peers and subordinates, in return for their active support, impose some requirements, just as the manager imposes some requirements upon them when they are drawing upon his or her support. These demands constitute so much of the manager's time that successful leadership hinges on an ability to control this "monkey on the back" effectively.

Why is it that managers are typically running out of time while their subordinates are typically running out of work? In this article, we shall explore the meaning of management time as it relates to the interaction between
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Who's really got the monkey? Who will be checking up on whom? Wheel spinning and bottlenecking are on their way again.
A fourth subordinate, Reed, has just been transferred from another part of the company in order to launch and eventually manage a newly created business venture. The manager has said that they should get together soon to hammer out a set of objectives for the new job, and that "I will draw up an initial draft for discussion with you."

Let us analyze this one too. The subordinate has the new job (by formal assignment) and the full responsibility (by formal delegation), but the manager has the next move. Until he makes it, he will have the monkey and the subordinate will be immobilized.

Why does it all happen? Because in each instance the manager and the subordinate assume at the outset, wittingly or unwittingly, that the matter under consideration is a joint problem. The monkey in each case begins its career astride both their backs. All it has to do now is move the wrong leg, and Presto! the subordinate deftly disappears. The manager is thus left with another acquisition to his menagerie. Of course, monkeys can be trained not to move the wrong leg. But it is easier to prevent them from straddling backs in the first place.


To make what follows more credible, let us suppose that these same four subordinates are so thoughtful and considerate of the superior's time that they