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Stop Being a Monkey Dump!


by Glenn Shepard
November 15, 2016
Category: Management



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The simplest way to keep people from camping out in your office is to remove the “visitors” chairs so that everyone has to stand when they’re talking to you.


If you like to help people, there’s a hard-learned lesson that will rob you of your ability to get things done.

I call it, pun intended, “Being a Monkey Dump”.

Imagine that one of your employees walks into your office and says “We’ve got a problem”.

It’s human nature to ask what it is. But the danger in asking is that you haven’t yet tested the validity of his statement.

Specifically, the word “WE”.

He’s already concluded that the problem is partially yours, and that you should drop what you’re doing to help him solve the problem.

But why should you bail HIM out if HE caused the problem? If you do, you will have crossed the line from being a manager to being an enabler. He’ll get conditioned to run to you every time something doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to, and you’ll have only yourself to blame.

In “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey: Don’t Take on the Problem If the Problem Isn’t Yours”, Dr. Ken Blanchard says that there’s a high correlation between self-reliance and morale.

There’s also a high correlation between how far up the ladder you climb, and how self-reliant you teach your employees to be.

Good managers solve their employees’ problems for them. Great managers teach their employees how to find solutions and solve problems on their own.

Here’s how to handle the situation the right way.

The next time an employee walks in to your office and says “We’ve got a problem”, respond “Obviously YOU have a problem. But whether or not it’s OUR problem has yet to be determined. Let’s start with you explaining what YOUR problem is, and then we’ll decide who needs to find a solution.”

If it really is something you need to be involved in, acknowledge it by responding “Thanks for bringing this to me. You were right to do so and I appreciate your wisdom."  Then proceed to problem-solve with him, but not for him.

But if it’s something he could have solved on his own, respond “What do YOU propose that YOU do about this?”

If he’s too mentally lazy (or codependent on you) to answer, he’ll respond with something like “I don’t know. That’s why I came to you.”

Respond to him with “Well if you did know, what would your answer be?” Make him take a stab at it.

Your job is to see that he does his job; not to do it for him.

When someone walks into your office with a monkey on their back, it has to go back out with them.

Don't let them dump their monkey in your lap.

If you want to deter him from doing this again, say “In case Plan A doesn’t work, what’s Plan B?” Because this requires that he exert more mental effort, he’ll learn that it’s easier to solve problems on his own than to run to you.

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