Are You The Problem Solver? Don’t Take the Monkey

Does every problem, situation and crisis end up at your door or on your desk? Are you the problem solver for your department, organization or company? Do you struggle getting your job done because someone is always interrupting you with his or her emergencies? I understand and I hear it often when working with clients at our seminars and while coaching leaders throughout North and Central America. We actually train leaders and executives on exactly how to reduce and eventually eliminate this challenge. We have titled it “Don’t take the monkey”.

Your level of success has, in the past, been directly attributed to your ability to identify solutions, solve problems and be the “get it done” individual. This has worked for you and it’s the reason you are where you are today. But as Marshall Goldsmith’s book and title describe “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful”, if you want to continue to grow yourself and your career you will need to make some adjustments. One of those adjustments will need to be to stop taking the monkey.

What I mean by this is when someone comes to your door with a problem they have a monkey. If you provide the answer you have taken the monkey. You have taken ownership and responsibility of the problem. If your solution doesn’t work, its your fault not theirs. They may or may not agree with your solution and therefore may or may not buy into the plan. If you “don’t take the monkey” but begin coaching them to solve the problem then they begin growing their problem solving skills, it’s their answer and their responsibility. If it’s their solution and their responsibility then their commitment to resolving it increases exponentially.

How do you not take the monkey? Here are some key reminders for you and questions to ask that will assist you:

  • Be comfortable not being the “Answer Man”
  • Ask the person currently holding the monkey:
    • What would you do?
    • If I were unavailable, how would you handle this?
    • Who is the best person to assist you with this?
    • What could you do to resolve the situation?
    • Have you dealt with this before? If so, how did you handle it?

If you want to grow yourself and those you lead you will need to stop taking the monkey. We offer workshops/seminars on coaching training that can assist you and other leaders in your organization to grow this skill and many others. Contact us today so we can begin the process of growing you and the leaders around you.