Do you ever feel that you’ve spent the entire day sorting out other people’s problems?

Don’t sacrifice your own performance by taking on employee burdens. Understanding the metaphor and learning the tactics of monkey management to keep those monkeys off your back is essential to make sure that the right person retains responsibility for the task.

In 1974, William Oncken Jr. and Donald L. Wass wrote ‘Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?’ for the Harvard Business Review, and the report remains the second-most popular reprint in HBR’s history.

The monkey is identified as other people’s problems, challenges and issues that somehow get passed to and inadvertently get accepted by the managers. To this end, the manager is carrying the burden of keeping the monkeys alive, well fed and swinging freely in the trees.

In their report, Oncken Jr. and Wass laid out their five rules for the Care and Feeding of Monkeys:

Rule 1: Monkeys should be fed or shot

Rule 2: The monkey population should be kept under control

Rule 3: Monkeys should be fed by appointment only

Rule 4: Monkeys should be fed face to face or by telephone, but never by mail

Rule 5: Every monkey should have an assigned feeding time

BC Training’s half day course will look at management strategies and will help delegates ensure that:

the right things get done

the right way

by the right people

in the right time frame

“Get control over the timing and content of what you do,” conclude Oncken and Wass. “The result of all this is that the manager will increase his leverage, which will in turn enable him to multiply, without theoretical limit, the value of each hour that he spends in managing management time.”