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A few weeks ago my subordinate walked into my office and came with a, in his point of view, brilliant idea. He wanted to improve a business process.

Now let me be clear. In this short story it is not my aim to propagate hurt of animals in general and Monkeys in specific, yet I found a clear and easy way to manage activities by creating and writing you down a metaphor. I like to call it Monkey Management.

What is Monkey Management About?

Monkey Management is all about Managing your zoo. What is a Monkey? A monkey is not a project or a problem it is only the next step to create progress in activities of your subordinates. Monkeys like food and preferably bananas. Tend to see the bananas as being food for thought and drivers for progress for the monkeys. So one thing you as a manager need to have is a lot of bananas in store to keep the monkeys satisfied.

Monkeys Jump!

Also, monkeys have the tendency to jump from one to another’s shoulder. Now as you are aware of the jumpy monkey, you as a manager need to find a way to keep the monkeys off your shoulder. Let’s put it this way; your colleague or subordinate is the caregiver of the monkey and that should be kept that way. Otherwise you end up with a lot of monkeys on your shoulder whilst your colleagues do not have a pet anymore to take care of. So it is important to tie the monkey steady to the caregiver. Remind yourself, you are the zookeeper of the Monkeys.

Maintaining your Zoo

So there are some steps to take to assure you as a manager, or the zoo-keeper, monkeys stay with their respective caregivers, are happy and healthy.

  1. Describe the Monkey. What is the next logical activity that can be taken.
  2. Assign the Monkey. Make sure it is clear who the owner and caregiver of the monkey is. Make sure that you only have Monkeys you have to take care of. The rest of the Monkeys are being assigned to your subordinates. The only way in creating responsibility is to give people responsibility.
  3. Assure the Monkey and tie it down to its caregiver. Provide the caregiver the authority and authorization to take good care of the Monkey. You can approach this in two ways. One: Make a proposition and handle it afterwards or; Two: Take action first and inform afterwards.
  4. Check in on the Monkeys wellbeing. A frequent checkup of the Monkeys delivers a healthy Monkey population. Every Monkey needs a followup appointment.

Moral of this Monkey Story

Moral of this story: Ideas of your subordinates that require action come as Monkeys. Monkeys have the tendency to jump from one shoulder to another. You as a manager have one critical mission in this: to qualify the monkey and either to feed the monkey bananas and send it on its path or; to shoot the monkey.

Remember to maintain Rapport, read eye-accessing cues and apply your Meta Model knowledge with each banana you feed to the monkey. Only then they will work for you and your entire zoo is happy.

Happy Banana Days!

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Mind Tools provides NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner Trainings and Certifications. We educate you according to the renowned, latest and highest standards set by the Society of NLP. We will train you thoroughly in all the corners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and some extras we learned from Richard Bandler directly.

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