Chapter 15

Management Time

Who’s Got the Monkey?

A summary of the full-length HBR article by William Oncken, Jr., and Donald L. Wass, highlighting key ideas, with commentary by Stephen R. Covey.


You’re racing down the hall. An employee stops you and says, “We’ve got a problem.” You assume you should get involved but can’t make an on-the-spot decision. You say, “Let me think about it.”

You’ve just allowed a “monkey” to leap from your employee’s back to yours. You’re now working for the person who works for you. Take on enough monkeys, and you won’t have time to focus on your own priorities.

How do you avoid accumulating monkeys? Develop your employees’ initiative. For example, when one of your people tries to hand you a problem, ...

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