We have been discussing our work monkeys recently so I thought maybe that would be a good place to start! I think, I hope, it will be interesting, it struck a chord with us so I hope it will for you too. I should say at this point that I take no credit for the analogy or for the principle it represents. I’m not qualified to offer advice and I’m also not very good at passing on my monkeys! However, it is an interesting concept and I think particularly relevant to small business owners (SBO from here on in!).
Some years ago (in the VERRRY late stages of pregnancy, in fact if I recall correctly several days past due date and still working - I can see some fellow SBO’s nodding!) Simon and I attended a management training course organised and run by Tim and Sharon Kidson, who are Business Development Specialists. It was fascinating (even Simon, who would much rather be on site working, was happy to be there) and we discovered several things about our personalities and working relationship that were quite unexpected. As I mentioned, one topic in particular struck a chord for us when we were encouraged to look at the individual tasks we complete during the week and to evaluate whether we actually add value to them or whether we simply have difficulty in letting go of taking control of every task (we discovered that Ichoose to open the post because I like it and Simon chose to vacuum the office before work starts because, well I don’t know why really though he stopped shortly afterwards!).
Every business owner works hard to build growth and success but with growth comes more work, more tasks that need completing and the temptation is there to assume that you are the only one who can complete them properly. This is unlikely to be the case (and when it is may suggest a lack of skill or desire in training) but what is true is that people who have worked as hard as an SBO has to build a successful business, letting go of control is really hard!
So, we were asked to imagine each task as a monkey hanging on to your back for dear life. Are there too many all vieing for your time and attention that you’re constantly juggling and balancing them so none fall off? Now consider whether you are the only one who can care for them or whether the monkey wouldn’t even notice if they were on your back or someone else’s. And if you can do this and pass a few of those monkeys on, just think how much more time you can spend on the remaining ones (or simply taking the odd break!).
And if this wasn’t benefit enough, delegation, if done well, will say to your staff that you trust them and have confidence in them, that you respect their abilities and want them to progress in their career and your business. Happy staff, happy owner, win-win!!! Now to practise what I preach … anyone for lunch?
Helen Tinson, Clover Conservatories & Construction, June 2015
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