Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Let’s Monkey Around: Will the Year of the Monkey Improve or Thwart Productivity at your Workplace?

The Year of the Monkey has arrived in the lunar calendar bringing in wittiness, cleverness, intellectual curiosity, and, of course, fun and mischievousness.

The Buddha used Monkey as a vivid metaphor: “Just as a monkey, swinging through a forest wilderness, grabs a branch. Letting go of it, it grabs another branch. Letting go of that, it grabs another one...In the same way, what’s called ‘mind,’ ‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness’ by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another.” (Samyutta Nikaya 12.61) BJ Gallagher pushes the destructive side of the metaphor further, describing our minds as “drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly.” (Buddha: How to Tame Your Monkey Mind in the Huffington Post.)

Monkey, therefore, is a great symbol for our distracted, do-more-with-less, fractured Whacky Workplaces. But Monkey has other alleged characteristics we can use to create a more productive environment; hard work, adaptable, fast learner, clever, intelligent, many interests, disciplined, creative, and fun.

Think about your current work environment. Which part of Monkey’s persona describes it best? Which Monkey comes out to play? Positive environments invite us to be creative and use our full spectrum of talents and brain power while negative ones simply drive us to distraction, suppressing our initiative and creativity.

Nine is a lucky numbers for Monkey. Here are 9 tips to keep those Naughty Monkeys at bay, free up our Ingenious Monkeys to counter the Whacky Workplace and create an environment where we can tap into all our positive traits.

Monkey works very hard: In a Whacky Workplace hard work is not rewarded. In fact, the boss often assigns more work because of poor delegation and management. We know we are supposed to work smarter. Hard-working Monkey knows the secret; work very hard on the most important tasks aimed at accomplishing objectives and getting necessary results.

Monkey adapts: In a Whacky Workplace the situation is always fluid and chaotic, lurching from crisis to crisis. Adaptable Monkey doesn’t waste time bemoaning the situation, gossiping, or supporting dysfunction. Adaptable Monkey focuses on objectives and results, figuring out HOW to get the job done.

Monkey is a fast learner: The Whacky Workplace lacks formal training and education and teaches the wrong lessons. Learning Monkey wants to learn and use every resource available to increase knowledge and skills. Learning Monkey is always proactive and never sits back waiting for the company to provide training.

Monkey is clever: The Whacky Workplace ignores ways to improve. Clever Monkey cannot resist seeking a better way to get the job done. Clever Monkey wants to improve efficiency AND effectiveness, asking, “How can I make this better for our customers and colleagues?”

Monkey is intelligent: The Whacky Workplace is DUMB, wasting time, money, people’s abilities, and everything else. Intelligent Monkey is too smart for that sort of nonsense. Intelligent Monkey harnesses brainpower to analyze the situation, finds the root cause, tries out solutions to solve the problem, and thinks ahead to prevent problems in the future.

Monkey has many interests: In a Whacky Workplace, only the Distracted Monkey is encouraged with endless incentives to multitask. But Interested Monkey knows neuroscience; the human brain cannot multitask but moves from task to task and back again, eliminating focus and flow. Interested Monkey focuses on the most important tasks, getting results and meeting goals before grabbing the next interest branch.

Monkey has discipline: In a Whacky Workplace, self-discipline goes out the window. In these environments being disciplined and focused is seen as a negative when everyone else acts like drunken monkeys. Disciplined Monkey creates an oasis in the chaos so important work can go on. Disciplined Monkeys and their teams keep on turning out results.   

Monkey is creative: In a Whacky Workplace, creativity is consumed in survival. Creative Monkey keeps creative intelligence focused on creating new goals, inventing new products, and anticipating customer needs. “Thrival” is Creative Monkey’s watchword.

Monkey has fun: In a Whacky Workplace, fun is off the menu. In fact, communication, relationship-building, and cohesion are frowned upon, while fear, cliques, and internal competition are promoted. Fun Monkey knows play releases our creative and intellectual powers. Fun Monkey focuses on building strong teams who enjoy working and playing hard together. Fun Monkey makes sure we celebrate milestones, holidays, birthdays, and exult in the pure joy of life.

Let all these great Monkeys loose in your workplace, your team, and your life. Monkey around a little and enjoy the results in greater productivity, better results, and happier team members.

Monkey Business is Good Business.
*   *   *   *   *

Find out how your organizations compares to the Whacky Workplace. Take this short survey and discover where you score on the Whack-O-Meter (designed by Mischievous Monkey.)

Looking forward to your comments on the Year of the Monkey.