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For more information, contact Lori Wurth at or call (313) 577-4449.

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Get That Monkey Off Your Back  


Do you often find yourself stressed out or weighed down by tasks you just don't have time to complete?  If so, you could be "picking up monkeys."  A monkey is an assignment or problem that isn't really your responsibility and distracts you from the work you actually need to accomplish - the so called "next move" in someone else's problem scenario for which you have unwittingly become responsible.  By guiding your team members through the problem solving process rather than taking it on yourself, you not only gain time at work but also increase your effectiveness as a leader.


The next time you need to keep that monkey off your back, try these 3 strategies:

  • Stop saying, "I'll look into it and get back to you."  This response transfers the monkey from your team member's back to your own and deprives that team member of the opportunity to take initiative and own the problem.
  • Ask questions until they take ownership.  Have your team member tell you more about the problem and ask what's behind it.  Ask who else is affected by the problem and how your team member could involve them.  Say, "Are you willing to take this on?"
  • Check up on the monkey.  For every "monkey" that leaves on the back of one of your team members, schedule a check-up appointment.  To increase autonomy, have your team members either a) make a recommendation to you about how to solve the problem and then act on it, or b) act on the problem and then come back to you for advice. 
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