May 10, 2024
OOH Sales Blog

Wonder Why You Can’t Seem To Get Everything Done?

Doesn’t matter if you are the owner or senior leader of a 5,000 face OOH company, a manager of a large OOH sales team, or the principal leader of a 3-person OOH plant, there’s a good chance somebody is loading extra things on your plate. These 'extra tasks' we often refer to as the 'monkey on our back'.

Imagine one day that you are walking through the office; one of your people approaches you with a problem. "XYZ Roofing is 60 days past due on collection. I’ve tried to reach the owner but can’t seem to get them to return my call.  I know you know them; can you reach out and see if you can talk to them?

As a leader, you’ve got a choice. In a classic article in the Harvard Business Review in 1974, authors William Oncken, Jr., and Donald L. Wass In the article "Who's Got the Monkey?" The authors tell the tale of an overburdened leader who allows his/her employees to delegate upward. When a manager takes an unsolved problem from his/her people, they are allowing a figurative monkey to leap from the employee's back to his back. When a leader has too many monkeys, they are increasing their own load, distracting themselves from their own priorities and they are failing to develop their subordinates,

As an effective leader you simply cannot allow your people’s problems to become yours.  Once it becomes yours, they no longer have a problem.  You can allow them to ask for advice and guidance on what their next step should be.  Once that next step is determined they will own the responsibility of following through.
These Monkeys rarely seem like such a big deal to help out with.  Often, we think it is just easier to tell our people not to worry about it, you’ll handle it. They are distractions.  These distractions, or monkeys, if not managed will stop you from achieving your own important goals or objectives.

A 'monkey' is transferred to us the moment that we accept the responsibility for its care. The monkey could come in the form of a unpaid bill, an angry customer, negotiation of a land lease, art work sign off, researching avails for a rep who has another appointment to get to, etc.
Individually, each monkey thrown onto your back might seem harmless enough but imagine the results if you were to take on 2 or 3 new monkeys every day... that's a lot distraction from what you are SUPPOSED to be doing!

Before you say this really isn’t a problem for me…do you ever complain there never seems to be enough hours in the day?  Worked hard all week, so many things on my to do list that I didn’t accomplish though!  Are you sure you are not taking on other people’s monkeys?  

Might want to ask yourself these questions:
1. Do people often ask for your help in getting their job done?
2. Do you find it hard to say "no" to other people?
3. By the end of the week, do you realize that you have over committed your time?
4. Do you find yourself volunteering for things only to regret it later?
5. Do you know that you are just too nice to people?

If you have answered "yes" to 3 or more of these questions, then you are carrying too many monkeys. You need to find a way to get rid of them. Refuse to accept problems that your people try to delegate upward. The employee who is closest to the problem usually has the knowledge and skill to solve the problem, if empowered to do so. Consultations with you will serve to broaden their perspective and offer new ways of seeing the problem. And as the employee eventually solves the problem, he or she learns important skills that make them more valuable to the organization.

Need help with sales skills or coaching to take your out of home company to the next level.  Learn more about OOH Sales Mastery at  or Contact Dan Nausley at, 423.702.5579.  

Lisa & Dan Nausley and Reggie Piercy of Sandler Chattanooga have developed the OOH Sales Mastery Program after more than a decade of training/coaching thousands of OOH Operators across the country in sales, leadership, and executive coaching.

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