Public Comment on Managing Management Time


The Assignment: Read,

Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?

in Harvard Business Review =>

Why is it that managers are typically running out of time while their subordinates are typically running out of work? Here we shall explore the meaning of management time as it relates to the interaction between managers and their bosses, their peers, and their subordinates.

Read the article, draft an analysis, get a second reader as your editor, save a copy, then post in the comments section below.

Remember: the Internet is forever, often true, and your brilliant essay will serve as a writing sample for a future employer.


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40 Responses

  1. Jack Yoest says:

    This article is required reading for my classes at The Catholic University of America.

    • Nicholas Marini says:

      The following article explains the concept of time management, specifically between workers and managers. There are three types of management time discussed: Boss-imposed time, system-imposed time, and self-imposed time. Throughout the article, a “monkey” is described. This monkey is the responsibility for a specific task, and is constantly moved from subordinate to manager, repeating often. When a manager accepts this “monkey”, they are removing a responsibility from the subordinate. The beginning of the article states that too often managers are left with not enough time whereas its employees are left without enough work. In order to avoid this, the monkey should be left to the subordinate. This is not to say that the manager cannot aid in the completion of the task. In fact, it is the complete opposite. When a subordinate approaches a manager for help, the manager should accept this monkey. However, the manager should not complete the task, but offer a roadmap to the subordinate, then returning the monkey. By doing this, the manager saves time and the subordinate receives an adequate workload.

    • Michael Yuschak says:

      This article is great for those who are aspiring managers and are just getting started within management. The article goes into heavy detail about the three types of management time. The first type is boss-imposed time. This is when the boss wants something done so it is imposed by him. If this task is not accomplished then there will be consequences for whoever it was assigned to. The next type is system-imposed time which is where the time is used to accommodate peers and any requests they may have. These tasks may not be as urgent as boss-imposed time ones but they are still important. The last type is self-imposed time. This is when a manager wants to do a task themselves and relishes the opportunity to do so. These tasks can be done all on the managers time and may be done when the manager does not have that much to do otherwise. All these tasks end up with a “monkey” being passed on many different people’s shoulders. Whoever is trying to accomplish the task at hand will also have this “monkey” on their back to remind them.

    • Kaila Bernstiel says:

      Throughout this article I read and learned a lot about management and how managers can create the time management that both employees and managers follow. The first type of management is boss imposed time and this is done when the manager of boss does the task themselves because they want it done a certain way. The second type is system imposed and this time is built for the employees and to give them the power to ask for any requests or things that as employees they may need. The third type is is self imposed. This type happens when the task is completed by the manager themselves. All of these tasks can be completed by the manager but when there is not enough time, the manager can pass them off to other employees who can handle the task. This is called the “monkey” task because it is passed onto another employers shoulders instead of the manager. This monkey task helps decrease the number of tasks needed to be completed by the manager and passed off to another capable employee.

    • Jessica Pulver says:

      This article is a great recourse for any new managers who are unsure how to balance priorities, or even those who have been managers for a while but have found you have lost all of your free time. The article goes through common scenarios one may find themselves in with subordinates and how they end up giving a lot of their work to the manager. The article does an excellent job at highlighting the ways one can fix this. The best advice being never letting the problem stop being the subordinate’s problem. As the manager, you need to ensure that you do not let those under you do the work they are tasked to do. This article shows you different methods to do that and helps you to see how you can implement these methods to allow yourself the time you need and to be able to really take up that managerial position.

    • Jorge Arana says:

      I liked how they compared “passing around monkeys” to passing around problems between employees and managers because it highlights the weight of these problems and how taxing they can be once they pile up. In the article, it discussed what happens when the employees pass all of their problems to the manager to the point where they are overwhelmed with the amount of things that need to be resolved, meanwhile, the employees are left with nothing to do as they wait for the manager’s response. In my opinion, this highlights the importance of delegating work and allowing decisions to be made at the bottom, otherwise the business becomes inefficient as it is bottlenecked by the manager’s workload. The article then goes on how managers can relieve this by not letting the employees pass the monkey to them, but instead guide the employee in “feeding” the monkey or solving the problem. This is where that balance is met, where the employee can resume with their work, and the manager has enough time to continue taking care of other problems.

    • Mike Phillips says:

      This article was truly insightful, giving the reader a deeper understanding of time management, specifically from a manager’s perspective. Using the analogy of a “monkey on your back” was a creative way to show problems going from one person to another. This helped me better grasp the concept of “the next move.” I’ve noticed that in past positions when I shift a problem I can’t crack to a higher up, I feel the weight leave and my thoughts become freed up. The issues on my mind are not gone but shifted to a different party. I was not aware of the extent to which the issue bogged down my bosses. In MGT 310 one of the first things we learned was that managers are paid to make decisions. When managers take on these subordinate tasks, they are no longer free to contemplate big picture problems, and thus are ineffective in making decisions, which just so happens to be their entire job. A manager instead should work collaboratively to solve a problem a subordinate cannot solve on their own, or give them the guidance they need right away so they can solve it on their own. The monkey should never solely rest on the manager’s back, but should either be cared for by the subordinate or in collaboration with the subordinate.

  2. Ana Torres says:

    Time is essential in just about any situation that we face in both the workforce and our personal lives. In the relationship between managers and subordinates, there are several time management situations. It was interesting how they refer to “the monkey” to just about any problem or concern the subordinates may be facing. In an attempt to get help with such, they pass down the monkey to their bosses. The boss’s response to the subordinates will determine whether he/she will take control of the monkeys themselves or not. When taking control of the monkey, the boss now has an additional responsibility that should genuinely not be attributed to them. When the boss takes control of everyone’s monkey and finds himself in a situation where they have no time left to take care of their responsibilities, that is when they will realize the importance of teaching subordinates to take responsibility for the monkeys themselves. Managers should learn to take control of their subordinates by also setting certain expectations from them. Communication is crucial during this stage because subordinates will be clear of how they should address their boss. Rather than coming to them with unsolved problems at random times, they should be made aware of a structured communication process that benefits and respects both their time and their boss’s.

    • Katie Cusumano says:

      You made an interesting point Ana. You mentioned the boss taking control of everyone’s monkey and finding themself in a situation where they have no time left to take care of their own responsibilities. This is an important life lesson that not only teaches them the greatness of teaching the subordinates to take responsibility for the monkeys themselves, but also the bar set for their team. Starting any job with a high bar can only bring more and more success than one with lower standards.

  3. Esmeralda Sevilla says:

    I found this article very interesting. It talks about how sometimes managers find themselves running out of time while their subordinates are running out of work. It explains how managers should avoid carrying their subordinates monkeys on their backs. When managers pick up their subordinates’ monkeys, they accept the subordinates’ problems and responsibility. As a result, the manager will have the responsibility to solve the problem and will have the subordinate pressure to find a solution to the problem. Also If a manager picks up the monkey from the subordinate, it might send a message to their employee telling him that he does not have the skills to care and feed the monkey. As a result, when managers get the monkey, their employees will be waiting for the boss to make the next move. However, if a manager makes the effort of keeping the monkey off their backs, they will find themselves without the burden of carrying with their employees’ problems. They will also help the subordinates by encouraging them and motivating them to find solutions to the problems and to not doubt themselves. This is the right way to operate in an organization because it is more efficient, and the employees will be more productive. When the manager delegates and the monkeys are on the subordinate’s back, the organization will run smoothly. The manager will have enough time to care about the important things that he needs to worry about. So at the end of the article, we learn that it is important to understand and learn the tactics to keep those monkeys off the manager back

  4. Katherine Bojdak says:

    Managers are one of the positions of a company that are face to face with problems from all aspects of the company; the boss, the employees, and the company itself. Managers have to learn how to juggle working on tasks within their very limited time. Managers have three specific periods of time that are delegate for specific things. The first being boss time, working on tasks directly from the boss. The second being system time, tasks from peers and active support. Lastly the self time which is made up of anything the manager themselves agrees to do. The first two are the most important that must be done, so the manger does not have a lot of wiggle room in changing that time. The third is the area where there can be wiggle room but that is mostly based upon managers being able to minimize the subordinate time. The subordinate time is anything time the subordinates take up because of their need of the managers help. In order to minimize the amount of time taken up from this managers need to exercise the five initiatives. The first two being that the subordinates don’t have any initiative. It is very important managers shut that down immediately, in order for managers to minimize subordinate time its crucial that they have initiative. The last three being that the manager work with the subordinates in guiding them and answering questions but leaving the work in their hands. Managers have their own tasks to complete and can not be bogged down in taking on the tasks subordinates don’t know how to do. So, in order for managers to receive the most self time possible they must lead their subordinates to be able to learn and grow on their own without constantly needing the managers help.

  5. Katie Cusumano says:

    The article, “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” spoke on a topic I never realized I was not too familiar with: managing and subordinates time management crunch. I have always perceived the work world quite simply. The manager always has the final say, subordinates are to do as told, and to complete assigned tasks on time. This article went further into depth of the “care and feeding of monkeys.” Before introducing this section of the article that stuck with me strongly, it is important to understand the analogy between the monkey on the back and the process of assigning and controlling work. The monkey symbolizes any bump along the way the subordinate may come across. There were five rules introduced explaining how monkeys should be cared and governed. Rule number four resonated with me the most and was a rule I myself would not have come up with alone. It said that monkeys should be fed face to face or by telephone, but never by mail. I didn’t think that documentation would add to this “feeding process” in a sense that would prolong it as a whole. The biggest take away from the article is to get control over the timing process of what you personally want to take on.

  6. Bryce Moody says:

    To me, this article seems to be principally focused on the assumption of responsibility. Each level of business employment structure, that being every position from the basic secretary to the most valuable executive has to deal with the same common issue of time allocation and task management. In my own experience, there have been numerous times where I have been placed in a situation where my allocation of time needed to be divided by importance and immediacy of responsibility. This is the fundamental principle of time management if there ever was one. The ability to clearly assess your tasks as a subordinate, those placed on you from management, along with typical and expected tasks of your role, is paramount in your ability to progress and gain the trust of those above you. The goal here is for the “monkey” to be passed along as efficiently as possible. In the meantime, it is your responsibility to manage your time and be as effective as possible. I have never found myself “spinning my wheels” as its said. In that case I think you simply aren’t working hard enough. Regardless, the monkeys being passed around will always be sporadic, as is human nature when it comes to competent time management. Your ability to work within the inconsistencies of responsibility as a subordinate will define your success.

  7. Adeline Dygert says:

    Managers do not have time to handle all of their responsibilities and all of their subordinates responsibilities. In the article, it states the problem that managers face is they do not have enough time to accomplish their tasks, while their subordinates are running out of work to do. This problem should not be occurring. Managers should be delegating roles properly so their subordinates have enough work to do. Likewise, subordinates should be able to accomplish their tasks without burdening their boss. Managers need to minimize their subordinate time so they can maximize their self-imposed time which is when they do other tasks that they agreed to do, which is more useful to their time. In order to minimize subordinate time, managers need to encourage and motivate their subordinates to find their own solutions. If managers take too many tasks from their subordinates, the subordinates will become unmotivated and accomplish less work. Once subordinates are encouraged and motivated they will become more productive and have more initiative. They will need the help of their managers less and be able to accomplish more because they have the right mindset. If everyone in an organization does the work that has been assigned to them, it will be a productive organization.

  8. Allie Anderson says:

    I found it interesting that the article was originally published in 1974, and yet is still entirely relevant to many workplace situations. Managers are still running out of time, while subordinates run out of work. The subordinates impose extra time on the managers that the managers don’t really have the space for. The monkey, or issue at hand, is something that is passed back and forth between subordinates and managers. The person with more initiative is the one who typically gets stuck with the monkey, unless the manager gets strategic and delegates the work back to the subordinate. The manager is constantly faced with juggling priorities. I’m glad to have read this article because I am constantly faced with tasks which I have to either take care of on my own or bring to my manager. I’d say I use all five degrees of initiative, varying based on the timeline of the situation. I mostly try to take care of the monkeys by myself, but now my awareness is heightened and I will be extra sure to check before I bring things to my manager’s attention.

  9. Brynn Reese says:

    Oncken’s and Wass’s article on “The Monkey” was very eye-opening and explains a widespread issue of managers not being able to manage their time because they have taken on the tasks of subordinates. This happens for several reasons. For one, there is a general sense in management that if managers are not working around the clock and controlling every aspect of operations, they are failing their subordinates. Another reason is that managers are often approached with issues or questions in which they do not have complete information and therefore must “circle back” with their subordinates, adding to the manager’s to-do list and taking away from real managerial tasks such as ensuring there is enough cash and establishing the visions and goals of the business.
    Managers must not be sweating out the clock while their subordinates have time to play golf. While this may seem uncomfortable to managers, managers must be lazy. They must rely on completed staff work in order to be effective and successful managers. Subordinates need to do the research, work, and analysis of projects and propose them to managers for decision making. Managers should recommend solutions to problems rather than taking on the task themselves and ensure that managers and subordinates agree on the initiative each should take up on projects. This allows managers the change to use their decision-making authority and for subordinates to practice their expertise and problem solving.

  10. One of the many things that a lot of people fail to incorporate into any discussion of business is the concept of time. While businesses require money, manpower, mission, and ideals, all are worth scrap if you haven’t enough time to leave your mark upon the work, or worse, you mismanage time on little things while leaving larger tasks unattended to. Time affects all employees along all levels of the organizational hierarchy, from the corporate bigwigs, to the lowest subordinates. How each of them incorporates time into their schedules is where it gets specific? Is time granted to us by our superiors, acquiesced by out peers and fellow workers, or set aside by our own doing? In the managerial sense, I agree that with time being a major constraint, we must know when to get involved in order to speed things up, but also when to step back, in order to let employees, feel independent and be able to complete the work tasked to them. Overall, in order to balance time with content, we need to establish what is necessary in order to keep the organization running, and devote other resources into seeing that those goals are completed efficiently.

  11. Austin Kane says:

    Time management will always be one of the most important, yet difficult things to figure out when in college, and in a career. In regards to a manager and his or her subordinates, time management is key when trying to delegate work efficiently. However, this relationship between managers and their employees suffers from problems regarding time management. Throughout the article, it is made clear that managers seem to run out of time and their subordinates seem to run out of work to complete. This is because managers like to take on their employee’s “moneys” which are problems they do not know how to handle. When managers take on too many of these, they run out of personal time to work on their own work they need to have finished. Therefore, managers need to learn how to balance this correctly and only take on the problems they NEED to figure out for their subordinates. They need to have more confidence in handling some of those problems so their bosses are not overwhelmed with the work they have.

  12. Savannah Jackson says:

    I thought the article “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” was extremely interesting. The analogy of the monkey on the back was an interesting way of explaining how a manager should spend his time and delegate to his employees. The monkey represents a problem that a subordinate encounters. The most surprising thing to me was that, just in the article, there are 4 ways that the manager ended up with the monkey on his back but there was only one way to keep the monkey on the subordinates back. Each time the author went through a different scenario with the three subordinates, I kept thinking, “Surely this will work” but quickly figured out that the monkey would end up right back on the back of the manager. Only when the manager took the approach of setting the monkey on the table, explaining that he will not take the monkey on his back but will instead help and guide, was he able to have time to complete the more important work and have time for himself. Time management and delegation is truly a learned skill and that is made very clear through this article but a manager can learn how to do these things, and do them well, then both him and his subordinates will feel content in their job and, for the most part, stress free.

  13. Clare Wagner says:

    I love this article on managing management time. The three kinds of management time, boss imposed, system imposed, and self-imposed, thoroughly describe what it is to manage time. In my own experience in a management position, I did notice that I often ran out of time. Instead of being able to delegate as well as I could, I took on a lot of the tasks because I knew that I could complete them. Boss imposed time is needed to accomplish activities and goals the higher up management requires I need to be done correctly and then the fastest amount of time. System imposed time, are things needed to be done in order to complete the job. Lastly, self-imposed time is things that a manager agrees to do. Part of this is discussing work with the subordinates. The other part of self-imposed time is discretionary which is when the manager is doing their own work. I love that Oncken When’s his article with the quote, “Get control over the timing and content of what you do”. It is not simply about getting out of the office on time or staying in the office so long that time Blends together, but rather the time is properly managed.

  14. Tom Ryan says:

    Managers have one of the most important jobs within the company because they not only have to manage their time, but they have to manage the boss’s the employees and the company’s time as well. These managers have to use time management or else they will fall behind and find themselves trying to play catch up. They have a total three sections of work they have to allot time to and if they are able to do all three in a timely fashion then they will be able to make the company more profitable. The first section is the boss’s work they have to do. This comes directly from the boss of the company and they have to be able to prioritize the tasks given by the boss. The second one is system tasks that are issued by peers and should be few thought the day these are important and should be prioritized over others but if it interferes with a task that the boss gives you then that should take precedent. The third is managers time and this are the managers tasks that should be already ingrained into the work schedule. If the managers are able to do all three effectively they will be successful at their position.

  15. Kevin Jezard says:

    This famous Harvard Business Review publication goes over the manager subordinate relationship. There is a common conversation had between the manager and the subordinate when the subordinate is stuck on a problem. How the manager responds to this will decide who takes on the “monkey” after the conversation. Managers can decide how much control over the situation they want based on the severity of the situation and their trust in the subordinate. The manager also has to account for his own obligations and the obligations of others he manages, as to not show favoritism or take on too much work. Managers however need to consider why they care keeping the subordinate on if they are bringing too many monkeys on to them. Managers are meant to show subordinates the correct way of doing objectives, rather than just taking on things the subordinate is unable to do. This article reminds me of the importance of the managers ability to let subordinates learn and do things on their own. Allowing your self to take on monkeys is not proper managerial leadership and does not make them any better employees. Even if they fail, at least they can learn from these mistakes and be better for them. Managers can then note what they could have done better to help the next subordinate take on the next monkey that is brought to the manager.

  16. Liam Patrick O'Sullivan says:

    I found this article to be incredibly fascinating, but also something that is seemingly mundane. Only ever being an employee, time just kind of took care of itself as I carried on with my job. I never thought about the difficult task of managing not only your time, but also the time of many employees. You must not only manage their time, but also make sure that their assigned work is also done on time. I think the analogy of the monkey refers to give the employee a certain degree of agency. To avoid small problems is advantageous to the company because it saves the managers time. The problem is that if the employees have no agency, and the manager gets caught up on a small issue that could/should have been handled by a subordinate, that means that all the employees will be waiting for the manager because they dont know what to do without being told.

  17. Mary says:

    This article describes three different kinds of management time: boss-imposed time, system-imposed time, and self-imposed time. Boss-imposed time is dedicated to those tasks assigned by the manager’s boss. Such tasks have the highest level of urgency in the sense that if they are neglected, the manager will suffer “direct and swift penalty.” System-imposed time is dedicated to those tasks brought to the manager’s attention by the manager’s peers. These tasks have a moderate amount of urgency because if they are neglected, the manager will suffer a penalty, but the penalty will not be as severe as that of boss-imposed time. Finally, self-imposed time is itself composed of two kinds of time: subordinate-imposed time, or time dedicated to those tasks brought to the manager’s attention by the manager’s subordinates; and discretionary time, or time dedicated to those tasks which the manager brings to his or her own attention. Since both boss-imposed and system-imposed time involve penalties if not properly attended to, but self-imposed time does not, the author argues that self-imposed time is the manager’s “major area of concern.” More specifically, the author describes how the manager can increase his/her discretionary time by decreasing (and perhaps eliminating) subordinate-imposed time. The manager does this by always ensuring that the monkey (the task to be done) is always on the back of (left to) the subordinate, and not the manager. Moreover, the task should always be addressed promptly and in a scheduled meeting, and the number of tasks should be limited to a reasonable number.

  18. Alex Tomaine says:

    In the article “Management Time: Who’s got the Monkey?” many great points about management dealing with subordinate problems were discussed. The “monkey” is the problem that has arised and typically will jump from the subordinate to the manager waiting on a resolution or another question that arises from it. Once the manager acquires the monkey, he must make a decision on where to go next and is in line to make the next move. The manager must remember that if he solves this very fast, he will be asked more frequently to help with problems that become overbearing. Managing your personal time can help with problem solving as well. The manager can initiate the job back to the subordinate in 5 ways: “wait until told (lowest initiative), ask what to do, recommend, then take resulting action, act, but advise at once, and act on own, then routinely report (highest initiative).” In order to control those problems that subordinates may need help with, the manager must not feed into the problem or completely shut it down, keep a maximum number in mind so you do not surpass that, and only meet with subordinates by appointment only, preferably over the phone or in person. Being able to manage these things will help you manage your boss-imposed time, self-imposed time, and system-imposed time.

  19. John Darcy says:

    This article goes into detail about the different times which are experienced by managers. They outline boss imposed time, system imposed time, and self imposed time. These three times are occurring often throughout the day to day activities of a manager. Boss imposed time is the time taken to accomplish the tasks which have been directly given from the boss and require a manager to address them immediately or face swift punishment. System imposed time is time used to address requests from coworkers and will require the manager to deal with them or else there will be consequences in the future from unhappy coworkers. Finally, there is self imposed time which deals with situations where the manager brings up an issue or the manager states that they will address an issue in the future that was raised by an employee. The text goes on to discuss how managers should deal with these “monkeys” or issues that are brought forth. I found that the best recommendation given is to directly address them with the employees and find out how they can resolve the issue properly and swiftly. The managers should look to follow the principle of subsidiarity by finding ways to assist the employees in finding their solution to the problem, but ensure that the employee is able to apply the solution to this issue themselves.

  20. Alexis Kirkland says:

    The article, Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey discusses three kinds of management time, boss-imposed, system-imposed, and self-imposed. If boss-imposed time and system-imposed time are not used properly the manager may face a penalty. However, if self-imposed time is not used properly, the manager loses discretionary time. The problem results when managers accept responsibility from their subordinates. Managers lose time for their daily workload, which leads them to be overworked and the subordinates to be underworked. The ultimate objective is for managers and subordinates to be able to individually manage their time. As a manager, you must recognize initiative in your subordinates before you can continue to develop it. If subordinates do not have initiative, the manager’s discretionary time is eaten away by menial subordinate tasks. The monkey on the back analogy is helpful for understanding the concept of self-imposed time. To maximize discretionary time, managers should eliminate subordinate imposed time from their daily schedule. In lieu of subordinate imposed time, managers must ensure that subordinates have initiative. Lastly, with this increase in discretionary time, managers can focus more time on boss-imposed and system-imposed time. By changing their mindset and language, managers can improve the efficiency of their subordinates and their own time.

  21. Marissa Mazzella says:

    This article aims to answer the question as to “why managers are running out of time while their subordinates are running out of work”. Management time can be distinguished into three different forms: boss-imposed time, system-imposed time, and self-imposed time. Boss-imposed time involves the time being used to complete a task that the boss requires, and the manager must uphold, which takes high priority. System-imposed time refers to the time managers must spend fulfilling requests from colleagues for support. This time is important, but not as high as a priority as boss-imposed time. Finally, self-imposed time consists of the time the manager has to accomplish the tasks he imposes for himself, but also his subordinates. The article identifies that the “monkey” is the subordinate-imposed time that the manager instills. The manager is tasked with the difficult responsibility of controlling the “monkey” all while accomplishing his other work in the time available. This article provided significant insight to the time management difficulties that can occur in the workplace, especially upon leaders. A strong leader can control the “monkey” and manage his time accordingly and in harmony with the various kinds of time outlined in the reading.

  22. Lindsey Wright says:

    This article explains the issue with time management for managers. Managers often run out of time to complete their tasks while their subordinates are “spinning their wheels” because they do not have enough work. The issue is with learning how to manage the various tasks simultaneously. Managers deal with three different kinds of time: boss-imposed, system-imposed, and self-imposed time. Boss-imposed time is used to accomplish activities that the boss requires, and the manager cannot disregard without a direct penalty. System-imposed is time used to accommodate requests from peers for active recommendations. Self-imposed time is used to do things that the manager originates or agrees to do. To juggle these times, managers need to delegate their tasks so their subordinates have enough work to do and are not overwhelmed by their work. Managers should trust these employees to complete their tasks without burdening the superior with incompetent questions. Managers need to minimize their subordinate time to maximize their self-imposed time, which is a better division of the manager’s limited time. This creates a work culture that allows the manager to complete their tasks while allowing their subordinates to gain confidence in completing their tasks without intervention from their superior.

  23. Diego says:

    I found this book to be both fascinating yet seemingly boring at the same time. Being an employee, time just kind of took care of itself while I went about my business. I never considered how tough it is to manage not just your own time, but also the time of a large number of people. Not only must you manage their time, but you must also ensure that their given job is completed on schedule. The monkey analogy, I believe, relates to giving the employee some degree of agency. It is beneficial to the organization to avoid minor issues because it saves time for the managers.

  24. Jack Shields says:

    What an interesting and insightful way to look at management time. I have always heard the phrase “I’ve got a monkey on my back” but have never fully explored the extent of what this meant. Oncken and Wass bring up extremely common managerial issues in their article (first published in 1974) which still ring true to this day in the business environment. The analogy of the “monkey on back” has extreme value to it, and the way in which the writers sift through examples of the monkey “transferring” from subordinate in manager and the inverse are quite eye-opening. A takeaway I brought from reading this article – as a subordinate, always be prepared to approach your boss before deciding to do it. Do not ask shallow questions. Work on ways that if you do have to approach your boss, you are able to foster a conversation which will be beneficial for both parties and keep the workload on your shoulders. One of the worst things a subordinate can do is walk in and leave a problem for their boss to figure out. It requires a certain amount of effort, research and respect to seek a way in which to find an answer to a subordinate’s problem while also maintaining the monkey. If more subordinates can be conscientious of this, time and productivity will increase for all parties.

  25. Thomas Welch says:

    This article is shaped by the three types of management time, boss-imposed, system-imposed, and self-imposed time. Boss and system-imposed time is the time used to complete the tasks the boss or company/peers require that are held with a penalty. Self-imposed time is split into two categories. The first is discretionary time, which is the time used to solve tasks originated by the manager. The second is the subordinate imposed time where the manager agrees to solve a situation brought up by the subordinate. This is where the “monkey on the shoulder” comes into play. As the manager needs to focus on their self-imposed time, subordinate-imposed time inevitably eats into it. This happens through the passing of the “monkey”, which is the problem the subordinate cannot figure out. The bad thing about this is that the manager now loses the time they need to focus on boss-imposed and system-imposed situations and now needs to allocate their time on their subordinate’s issues. This leads to less time and decreases the quality of work. To fix this, the manager should reroute the “monkey” to the subordinate and allow them to troubleshoot their problems. This gives time back to the manager and allows the subordinate to learn and grow as an employee.

  26. Cameron Dunn says:

    The article, “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey” highlights an inhibitor of time through the three types of management which are the following: boss-imposed, system-imposed, and self-imposed. For a boss to be successful it is critical for them to manage their time efficiently. Boss-imposed time is the time allotted to complete the activities that the boss requires and the manager cannot disregard without facing a penalty. System-imposed time is the time used to help with the requests from peers for active support. If these requests are neglected penalties will also follow. Lastly, self-imposed time is time allocated for things that the manager agrees to do. This form of time is not subject to penalties. The issue managers face is when they take on the responsibilities of their subordinates which the article conveys with the analogy of “putting a monkey on their back”. The more responsibilities a manager takes on, the less time they have to do their actual job as manager. In order to avoid getting caught up in the responsibilities of their subordinates, a manager must transfer the initiative. Managers can help their subordinates but they must let them do their job and find their own solutions. By following this type of leadership style, a manager can use their time as well as their subordinate’s time efficiently.

  27. Caroline Melia says:

    I found this article to be extremely insightful. Managing time efficiently is something is always a work in progress. This article discusses the different types of management time, which include boss-imposed time, system-imposted time, and self-imposed time. What I found to be most eye-opening was that the manager often gets stuck with the “monkey” and finds themselves running out of time because they are taking on tasks of their subordinates. It is important within any organization that managers are able to trust their subordinates enough to be able to take on responsibilities. This will allow for there to be maximized efficiency within the company. This is so important to keep in mind for any company as they evaluate their leadership style. Thus, Oncken discusses that managers need to make sure that subordinates are getting tasks done within the company rather than placing all of the burden on their boss, the manager. This is ultimately where it is up to the manager to adjust the way in which he/she speaks to their subordinates. They need to make sure that they are not taking on too much on from their subordinates. This is a great article that holds valuable advice for any organization.

  28. Liam Dearing says:

    The article, “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” is fantastic. The three types of management time, imposed by a boss, enforced by a system, and imposed by oneself, adequately define how to manage time. In my personal experience as a manager, I found that I frequently ran out of time. Instead of delegating as effectively as I could, I took on many of the chores since I knew I could finish them. Time is required by the boss to complete actions and goals that higher-up management requires. I must complete them correctly and in the shortest amount of time possible. There are things that must be done in order to finish the job within the time frame set by the system. Finally, self-imposed time refers to tasks that management agrees to complete. Discussing work with subordinates is a part of this. The remaining portion of self-imposed time is discretionary, which is when the management is working on their own projects. I liked the remark from Oncken When’s post, “Get control over the timing and content of what you do.” It is not only about leaving the office on time or remaining so long that time blends together, but rather about managing time wisely.

  29. Jack McGorry says:

    After reading this document I learned knowledge in management that I had previously not known. First is that in order for a company to work at its highest capacity and function to the need of the company all levels of management must be on the same page. Too often there is a lack of communication for what is needed in our business. If managers were able to collaborate and make resources for another to all be able to work together to make sure that all their decisions align.

  30. Colin Kehoe says:

    This article discusses ways as to how managers can make more effective use of their ‘management time’ and interactions with managers, bosses, peers, and subordinates. Time management is obviously an important aspect of leadership and management, and although most tasks are delegated to the manager’s staff, a manager also needs to have time management skills for himself. Boss-imposed time is used to accomplish activities that the boss requires and the manager can’t disregard. System-imposed time is used to accommodate requests from peers for active support. Self-imposed time is used to do tasks that the manager agrees to do. Setting time aside for different types of tasks can help an aspiring manager be better prepared to manage their time based on the importance of multiple tasks. An idea that I thought was interesting was the topic of the monkey. The example used in the article can be described as subordinate-imposed time, which is like a subsection of self-imposed time. In the office example, the manager’s subordinate transfers the ‘monkey’ from his back to the managers; at this moment, subordinate imposed time begins. After this happens, the manager assumes the position of a subordinate to his subordinate until the task at hand is completed. This traces a broader lesson of time management because throughout the day and week, managers will have to deal with numerous ‘monkeys’. Keeping communication between staffers and delegating time to complete the different tasks is essential to being a successful manager.

  31. Grace Jung says:

    The article, “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” was very interesting. The idea of different types of imposed time was a new concept to me. Distinguishing between boss, system, and self-imposed time is important to consider when scheduling oneself and creating the schedules of others. The idea of passing off the “monkey” has been around forever, but I don’t think people ever really understood that there was a way around feeling burdened by not having everything they need to complete the task. Managers don’t have all the information and subordinates don’t have the power to finalize any major decisions. By passing off the monkey in this way, the two people have essentially switched roles because the subordinate has tasked the manager with a project and expects results. Seeing these situations as a joint problem is where the error begins. The boss can’t only have imposed time of everyone else because there also needs to be self-imposed time. He is getting tasked from above, below, and by the system. Managers can solve this by setting boundaries and changing the mindset of his employees and this will create a much healthier, more productive workplace.

  32. Brooke Falvey says:

    This article from HBR expands further on a manager’s role as a supervisor of a larger team. Managers are required to manage their own responsibilities along with the responsibilities of others and often “run out of hours” in their days. Oncken and Wass refer to “the monkey,” or the person who needs to put their own responsibilities on the backburner so that other problems within the organization can be solved. These interruptions, while important to address, cause other priorities to be pushed back by hours or even days and makes the manager subordinate to its subordinates. An effective way to solve this issue is transferring the initiative and delegating tasks to those closest to the problem. In order to do this, each employee needs to have autonomy and the ability to align themselves with the company’s priorities.

  33. This article by the HBR is actually really interesting as it explains the fundamentals of time management and the types of management times. In the article, it mentions how been managers and their bosses there are always three kinds of management time. Boss imposed, the system imposed, and seld-imposed. Boss imposed time is basically used when there is a request from our peers for active support and the person in charge cannot disregard it without penalty. system – imposed time is often used to accommodate or to help the request from peers that are asking for active support when neglecting these requests will result in a penalty. And lastly, self-imposed time is one that is used to do the things the manager agrees to do. This one is not subject to a penalty since the boss or the organization will not punish for something they didn’t know the manager had to do. Another thing that caught my eye is the comparison to where is the monkey. Overall, time management is a skill that we all have to master not only at work but in our personal lives as time is something that affects all of us.