Monkey on back

Monkey management

Having a monkey on your back is never a good thing. Having multiple is down-right painful.

Yet too many managers are willing to be lumbered with the monkeys that their employees carry.

The thing is, the more you do that as a manager, the more monkeys your employees will bring you.

It gets them off their own back quicker, right?

This solving-all-the-problems-of-your-employees approach is otherwise known as “monkey management”. And it’s pretty dangerous.

Studies have shown that humans are hard-wired to find problems to find and fix. It’s natural to want to find troubling situations, and feel like you are needed to help solve them. It can provide a buzz. A hit of adrenaline.

But this is short-lived. There’s more monkeys. More being taken advantage of. A building sense of frustration and resentment. A situation that’s impossible to get out of.

But the biggest issue with monkey management?

Your employees are not learning to solve their own problems.

How are they meant to grow if they are, essentially, being molly-coddled? How will they ever advance their skills, or in their career, if they aren’t exposed to tricky situations? How will they ever think independently?

The same study I’ve linked to above found that humans that don’t get exposed to challenges in their lives will ultimately find difficulties in the smallest of things. It’s where the term “making mountains out of molehills” becomes relevant.

As with parenting, management means helping someone to grow. And to grow, you need to be exposed to an element of pain.

This is why coaching is so important. Instead of providing answers, coaching is geared towards ASKING QUESTIONS that help the employee to solve the problem they come to you with for themselves.

It means them leaving with the monkey still on their own back, even if it’s now a slightly lighter one.

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