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Are These Your Monkeys?

The most request article published by the Harvard Business Review is on Monkey Management.  All Directors become familiar with managing monkeys, even if they don’t know that they are doing it.

Below is an excerpt covering Monkey Management from our  book:

Management Time:  Who’s Got the Monkey?

By William Oncken, Jr., (former CEO, The William Oncken Company of Texas, Inc. and Donald L. Wass (former President, The William Oncken Company of Texas, inc.) (Adapted from an article in the Harvard Business Review as an analogy that underscores the value of assigning, delegating and controlling.)

In any organization the Director’s bosses, peers, clients and staff – in return for their active support – impose some requirements; just as the director imposes some requirements upon them where they draw on his support. These demands constitute so much of the director’s time that successful leadership hinges on an ability to control this “monkey-on-the-back” input effectively.

Why is it that directors are typically running out of time while their staff is typically running out of work?  In this article, we shall explore the meaning of management time as it relates to the interaction between directors, their bosses, their own peers, and their staff. Specifically, we shall deal with three different kinds of management time:

Boss-imposed timeto accomplish those activities which the boss requires and which the director cannot disregard without direct and swift penalty.

System-imposed time– to accommodate those requests to the director for active support from his peers. This assistance must also be provided lest there be penalties, though not always direct or swift.

Self-imposed time– to do those things which the director originates or agrees to do. A certain portion of this kind of time; however, will be taken by staff and is called, “staff-imposed time.” 

The remaining portion will be your own and is called “discretionary time.” Self-imposed time is not subject to penalty since neither the boss nor the system can discipline the director for not doing what they did not know the director had intended to do in the first place.

The management of time necessitates that directors get control over the timing and content of what they do. Since what their bosses and the system impose on them are subject to penalty, directors cannot tamper with those requirements. Thus their self-imposed time becomes their major area of concern.

Directors should try to increase the discretionary component of their self-imposed time by minimizing or doing away with the ‘staff’ component.  They will then use the added period of time to get better control over their boss-imposed and system-imposed activities. Most directors spend much more staff-imposed time than they even faintly realize.  Hence we shall use the analogy of a monkey-on-the-back to examine how staff-imposed time comes into being and what the superior can do about it.

Where is the Monkey?

Let us imagine that a director is walking down the hall and the he notices one of his teachers, Jones, coming up the hallway. When they are abreast of one another, Jones greets the director with, “Good morning.  By the way, we’ve got a problem.  You see…”

As Jones continues, the director recognizes in this problem the same two characteristics common to all the problems his staff gratuitously brings to his attention.  Namely, the manger knows (a) enough to get involved, but (b) not enough to make the on-the-spot decision expected of him. Eventually, the director says, “So glad you brought this up. I’m in a rush right now.  Meanwhile, let me think about it and I’ll let you know.” Then he and Jones part company.

Let us analyze what has just happened. Before the two of them met, on whose back was it?  The teacher. Now whose back is it on? The director. Staff-imposed time begins the moment a monkey successfully executes a leap from the back of a staff member, to the back of his superior and does not end until the monkey is returned to its proper owner for care and feeding.

In accepting the monkey, the director has voluntarily assumed a position subordinate to his staff. That is, he has allowed Jones to make him the subordinate by doing two things a subordinate is generally expected to do for a boss: the director has accepted a responsibility from his staff, and the director has promised a progress report.

The staff – to make sure the director does not miss this point – will later stick their head in the director’s office and cheerily query, “How’s it coming?” This is called, “supervision.”

Or let us imagine again, in concluding a working conference with another staff, Johnson, the director’s parting words are, “Fine. Send me a memo on that.”

Continue reading Are These Your Monkeys?

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What is a Mentor Coach and Do You Need One?

Athletes have coaches. Many entrepreneurs and professionals have mentors. They’re really the same thing. A mentor coach is a coach for your growth. Most of us weren’t formally taught how to grow successfully. A mentor coach can help you to figure out what you want to do with your life, set goals, and achieve them. They have experience in helping others to live fulfilling lives.

A mentor coach wears many hats:

  1. A mentor coach is a cheerleader. Life is easier when someone is in your corner. When you know you have support, it’s easier to take risks and chase after big goals. You always have someone on your side when you have a coach. *Your coach will also push you. They’ve seen plenty of clients attempt to avoid hard work and stressful situations. They’ll know when you’re playing games and push you to succeed.
  2. A coach provides guidance. It’s not always easy to make good decisions, especially when you’re stressed or fearful. And let’s face it, some folks just don’t make good decisions, period. A coach can help you to make wise decisions. * A friend can’t always be objective or completely honest, but your coach can. You’ll hear what you need to hear from your coach.
  3. A coach helps you to determine what you want to be when you grow up. It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 68. A mentor can help you to determine what the next step of your life should be. If you’re feeling lost, a coach might be the answer.
  4. A coach will help you to find balance. Coaches are aware that there’s more to life than just money or a perfect classroom. They emphasize keeping things in balance. Health, professional success, relationships, finances, spirituality and leisure activities are all part of a well-balanced life.
  5. A coach is not a therapist. Therapists deal with past issues and traumas. Coaches work from the present moment and into the future. A mentor won’t help you get over a past loss or deal with the fact that you were bullied in junior high. A coach can guide you toward building a more desirable future.
  6. A coach isn’t required to have any training. There are organizations that certify coaches, mentors or trainers, but they aren’t necessary to hang out a shingle and make a living in these areas. Be sure to vet anyone you’re considering hiring. Since the barriers to entry are so low, there are plenty of coaches that aren’t good at what they do. * Pay attention to reviews and schedule an introductory session to see if a particular coach is a good fit. Choose carefully.

Do you need a mentor coach? A mentor coach won’t solve your challenges, but they can help you to help yourself. If you need a steady hand to guide you and a cheerleader to support you, a mentor coach can make a big difference. There are good mentor coaches and bad mentor coaches. If you’re looking for a mentor coach, ensure that you find a good one.

Texas Director offers Mentor Coaching services. Schedule your session today.

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7 Simple Hacks to Simplify Your Life and Get More Done Each Day

Life is fast moving and complicated. There’s a lot you can do to simplify your life and still get more accomplished. There’s a seemingly endless supply of “hacks” online. There are hacks for work, your love life, exercise, and everything else under the sun. Getting through all of the hacks requires a hack of its own.

Keep things simple and focus on a few powerful strategies:

  1. Make a short list. The fewer things you try to accomplish, the more you’ll get done. Make a list of the 2-3 most important things you want to get done at work. Before you drive home, make a list of the 2-3 most important things you want to get done at home. Make a new list for the weekend.
  • The act of making the list will force you to prioritize so you can accomplish the most important tasks.
  1. Focus on one task at a time. Switching back and forth between two or more tasks is inefficient. Learn to focus on one task until it’s complete before moving on to something else. Try this for a week and notice the difference it makes.
  2. Simplify your diet. The next time you’re at the grocery store, stick to the edges of the store. What do you find there? Lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and dairy. Throw in some nuts and healthy whole grains and you have a healthy diet.
  • You’ll save time and money at the store and do wonders for your health.
  1. Try to limit your emails to five sentences. If an email is five sentences, no one will complain that your email is too short or too long. You can maintain relationships without spending a lot of time typing a senseless email. Pick up the phone as the situation calls for it.
  2. Go to bed early. Any extra time you’re awake at night probably isn’t productive. It’s probably spent watching TV while nodding off in your favorite chair. Get to bed early and get up early. You’ll get more done.
  3. Sort your mail as soon as you get home. Each day, grab the mail and stand over the garbage can. Throw out the junk and sort the rest. Put it all away in the appropriate place.
  • Avoid the frustration of lost bills and clutter. Save your time and energy for more important tasks than going through a huge stack of junk mail every time you need to find a bill or other important paper.
  1. Work offline. It seems that more and more work must be completed on the computer, but there are pitfalls to working online – the internet. The internet is both the best and worst thing ever invented. It provides tremendous resources, but it’s also the perfect way to waste a lot of time.
  • Would you rather complete the billing report for your boss or watch a video of kittens riding on the back of a goat? See how easy it is to get distracted?
  • If you’re at home, pull the Ethernet cable or turn off the Wi-Fi. You can find a similar solution at work.
  • One famous writer once stated that the only way he could get any work done was to glue the Ethernet cable into the port and then cut off the cable. He couldn’t control himself if he had access to the internet.

 

Try out these seven hacks and see how they impact your life. What other hacks could you add? Consider where you seem to waste the most time. This is a prime area for developing a hack of your own. Keep your life simple and it will be easier to get through the day with a feeling of accomplishment.