Throughout my career I would complain to my father, a prior New York Life Executive about certain support people I worked with. He would always tell me: “Get the monkey off your back!”
Here is how he explained it to me: When you ask someone to help you with a project or give someone a job to do and they don’t own the task at hand and constantly call you for help with the problems they are facing throughout the time it takes to complete the job, then you still have the monkey on your back!
What happened was: When you came to them and gave them the “monkey,” when you turned around and walked away, that monkey jumped right back on YOU!
If you don’t feel good about the performance of an employee and you find yourself being pulled down by things they should be handling, you should ask yourself… “When I give them a problem, are they giving it back to me?”
When you give someone a job to do, you should be able to trust that they will use their resources or inquire with other people and co-workers first BEFORE they come to you with their concerns or challenges. Then, you would have more time to dedicate for other important decisions or management issues.
The best people will come to you with the task completely finished, along with suggestions for other areas, as well on how to improve things. If they face challenges while trying to complete the task, they should come to you with two recommended solutions they have thought of, not just put the monkey back on your back and say “what should I do?”
Get that monkey off your back!
Also, check out a few links that will help you to delegate better and more effectively:
- * A nice guideline with the points you should cover during the delegating process
- * This tool may help you organize the monkeys you have taken out of your back
- * A renowned Harvard Business Review article from 1999 addressing the issue: “Who’s got the monkey?”
- * And a Harvard Business School – Working Knowledge for business leaders Blog post: Do You Know When to Delegate?