November 5, 2015

Monkey Insurance.jpeg Have you ever struggled with letting someone else do something that you know you can do faster, better, and with less effort? If you are thinking “Well sure, why the heck would I let someone do something that I could do faster, better and with less effort?” Good question. If you really thought it through though, you know if you don’t pass the task on, you will be doing it yourself forever. If this task is in fact the best use of your time, then maybe the staff member isn’t needed. If there really is a better use of your time, then you have to let someone else do it slower, not quite as good and with more effort. You have to let go of the vine*. Let me ask you a quick query. How much of your week is spent doing these types of tasks?

Let me introduce you to Monkey Insurance. I have never thought of myself as an insurance salesman but the more I help develop leaders and managers in my clients’ companies, the more I am connecting them to Monkey Insurance. There is a great book called the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Kenneth Blanchard, Hal Burrows, and William Oncken. In this book, they explain their philosophy that managers should not take on problems (monkeys) that are not theirs. When managers take on monkeys, they end up becoming the hopeless bottleneck for the company (for more details on this see my past post The Monkey House). In the book, they explain that there are ways to help managers to let go of the vine and get the monkeys back with their rightful owners. One of their main strategies is Monkey Insurance.

There are two forms of Monkey Insurance. The first type, Recommend, then Act, should be used if the issue is large enough or the implications are of the nature that you should be in the loop on what action is taken. In other words, the team member would come back to you with their recommendation on how to resolve the issue and then take action. If the issue is something that the team member should own fully, but you still need to know what was decided, then use the second form of Monkey Insurance called Act, then Advise. Then you will know what was decided but your time is not needed to get things going.

The whole idea of using Monkey Insurance is more for you than your team members. Use either form of insurance as needed to get comfortable with your team completely owning their area. It also helps you to get to the point of no longer needing any form of insurance on their monkeys, because like all insurance, there is a cost. The cost is your time and you need to get to the point that your organization is getting the highest and best use out of your time, which is seldom dealing with other people’s monkeys.

So, insure if you must, but make sure you are slowly letting go of more and more of the vine until your team is the self reliant team you have always dreamed of.

*Thanks to Kevin Armstrong and Sean O’Driscoll for their insight

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