12 November 2014
12 November 2014, Comments: 0


Brian complains to you about Larry. What do you do?

If you are like many managers, you discuss the situation with Larry. By doing this, you have allowed Brian to transfer his “monkey” to your back. Brian doesn’t have to worry about it anymore, you have taken the issue on as yours.

But is the situation really your issue?

You have to decide if the situation is “your circus & your monkeys” or if it is “Brian’s circus & Brian’s monkeys.”

What can you do when Brian comes to you to talk about Larry?

  1. Listen – Brian may just need to get something off his chest. However, if the situation with Larry is not improved, then you are becoming part of the problem by letting Brian only talk to you and not taking action.
  2. Discuss – Talk with Brian about ways he can approach the situation with Larry. Through this discussion Brian could realize he doesn’t need to do anything, because it is really his issue and not Larry’s. Brian also learns through the discussion that you are not taking the problem on as your own. It is his “monkey” to handle, with your support.
  3. Decide – In certain situations, you need to take the “monkey” from Brian. Decide if this is one of these times and you talk to Larry.
  4. Support – If it is Brian’s “monkey”, then support Brian in talking directly with Larry.
  5. Follow-up – Check to see if the situation is being solved. Situations do not go away on their own, as a leader, you need to ensure the issue is being worked on or it can cause larger issues in the future.


Do you sometimes allow your team to transfer their “monkeys” onto your back? Need some help? Contact me at Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com and we can talk.

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