How To Deal with a Problem PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 08 September 2008 00:00

I read somewhere once that problems are like monkeys. If you have one on your back it will screech at you, demand attention, and even defecate on you. Until you can get rid of it, your monkey must be fed (your attention), and should you collect too many monkeys you’ll never get anything done for all the care, feeding, and cleaning they will require.

Dealing with a Problem as an Employee

If you’re an employee who’s just discovered a problem the worst thing you can do is race off to your boss and say “I have a problem, here take my monkey!”  Your boss probably has a whole troop of his own that he or she is feeding separately from your Monkey and will likely be unimpressed with the prospect of having the additional work of dealing with your problem. A better approach is to work what do about the Monkey; can you train it? (fix the problem), can you recommend that someone else to train it (delegate), or can the monkey be shot? (it’s not actually a high priority problem right now).  Once you have your plan take the monkey along to your boss along with a recommended course of action. He or she will most likely agree and which case you’ve both got rid of the monkey. If not at least you will have made your Boss’s life easier for having worked out the obvious solutions, something that will be greatly appreciated.

Dealing with a Problem bought to you by one of your Employees

If you’re a boss and an employee presents you with a monkey, the worst thing you can do is take it off their backs. If you do so, you’ll deprive them of a learning opportunity to become better skilled, and conversely find yourself stepping down to do their jobs for them. The consequences for this behavior on a long-term basis are catastrophic. The organisation degenerates into two groups, an overworked group of Monkey collectors (typically bosses and a few “star” employees), and an increasingly disengaged and low-performing group of Monkey givers. Ultimately the Monkey collectors quit out of frustration and the workplace, left with people who can’t solve problems, falls apart.

Alternatively, when presented with this situation the best Bosses will ask the employee what their recommendation is. This refusal to take the monkey of the employees back forces the employee to deal with it and places the Boss in the role of coach and mentor in helping the employee become better at dealing with monkeys. This approach allows the Boss to take care of his or her own monkeys and empowers the employees within the organization to become higher skilled and more effective. Enough said!

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 08 September 2008 22:18