Soon after the One Minute Manager was published, it became one of the best-selling business books of all time, and it remains one of the most popular business books until this day. Ken Blanchard, one of the co-authors, then partnered with other business experts to write other books using the parable-style format of the One Minute Manager. Blanchard partnered with William Onchen to write the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. Onchen was an expert on management time, and had authored his own book entitled Managing Management Time. Together, Blanchard and Onchen collaborated to write about how managers could be more effective if they learned the art of delegation and supervision of routine tasks.
The story they tell is about a struggling manager who never seems to have enough time while his people always do. When he finally was so frustrated that he couldn’t take it anymore, he met with the One Minute Manager who could help him with his problem. The One Minute Manager helped him to realize that he was inadvertently taking on work that his people should have been doing and it was piling up on his desk. His “ah-ha” moment came when he realized that when his people came to him with an issue or a problem, he needed to redirect them back with the problem to solve it themselves, ie, let them keep the “Monkey.” A Monkey is defined as the next move. So long as he could prevent “Monkeys” from jumping from someone else’s back on to his, then he would have more control over his own time. He could then focus on only those things that only he could do and have the time to do it too. Here are Onchen’s Rules for Monkey management as described in this book:
1. Describe the Monkey: When someone comes to you with a problem, then the task is to keep on talking until the next move has been specifically identified.
2. Assign the Monkey: Assign the Monkey (next move) to the lowest level that can handle the problem which in most cases is the individual who came to you with the problem. Be careful not to inadvertently set up a following move such as “write me a memo” which will then require you to read it and react to it after it is sent to you. So, a better move is to send your employee off with instructions to come back to you with three alternative solutions so you can discuss this again and pick one together for the employee to implement.
3. Insure the Monkey: Decide what level of risk you are willing to accept to have the employee act immediately to solve the problem. Generally, you can send them off with one of two levels of insurance: 1) recommend and then act or 2) act and then advise. Depending on the employee’s experience and the nature of the task, choose an insurance level that matches the employee’s ability to solve the problem on their own and your own willingness to accept the consequences if things don’t get done right. If you have any concerns about the employee’s ability to act first, then have them simply recommend a solution before they can proceed. Otherwise, you can agree on a solution and just send them off to immediately take action and report back later.
4. Check the Monkey: Set an appointment for a follow-up meeting to find out how it is going with your employee. If you have assigned them the responsibility for the next move, rather than having your employees ask you “How’s it going?” while you are dealing with their Monkeys, then you can be the one to ask them “How’s it going?”
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