The Art of Delegating Ė donít take the monkey!

Instant Recognition and Reflex

I'm going to give you some training in the next pages that'll enable you to spot an upward-leaping monkey while it is still in mid-trajectory, so that with instant recognition and instant reflex you'll be able to bat it back. Now it may turn out to be your monkey because, as we say, "Every monkey has a homeroom." It may be your monkey, no question about it. But if it is, where does the burden of proof lie? With him. And while he is proving to you it's yours, where must that monkey lie? On his back. Then you can in considered, rational, studied fashion, pick up the monkey and put it on your back where it be≠longs. But stop this business of picking up monkeys by default. For if the monkey leaps on your back, and it turns out later to be really his, now you the customer, are going to have to "sell" the salesman that it's really his, and that's got your two roles thoroughly mixed up. Worse still, I can tell you from personal experience that to tear a monkey off your back to put it on a subordinate's back where it really belongs is very painful. So rather than go through that agony, don't let it leap at all until it's been determined whose monkey it is. And if it is his, itís his next move.

Procrastination vs. Insubordination

Finally, I tell him, "You think it over and be back in my office at four-thirty with your thoughts wrapped in merchandisable form, etc." Let's see how well you remember what we did in the last few hours: if he does not show up at four-thirty, what do we call that? Insubordination! If he comes in at four-thirty with no thoughts at all, what do we call that? Also insubordination. On the other hand, suppose I let the monkey jump on my back by saying to him, "Let me think it over, and I'll let you know." Busy as I am, what do you think the odds are that I will have come up with any thought at all about this same matter by four-thirty this afternoon? Practically zero. What will we call that? Procrastination! Procrastination carries fewer penalties than insubordination does. That's why when you let monkeys leap (as we said earlier), it only encourages and catalyzes procrastination throughout the entire company.
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