Saturday, February 25, 2017

(Audiobook) How to Manage Your Life: Lessons on adulting

I'm quite the sucker for self-help books, not so much to religiously apply the suggested tips on how I should live my life, but rather to gain new perspectives on things that otherwise would have been in my blind spot.

So it's no wonder that while perusing the selections available for an audiobook, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) series caught my eye, specifically one that centres on Managing Yourself. This book collates 10 HBR articles examining ways and means for one to be an effective, engaged and productive individual in your professional life. The articles touch on things like time/task management, leadership skills and techniques, an examination of resilience and how to develop it, as well as the importance of having a clear focus of what you want to achieve in this lifetime.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this for completely different reasons to how I enjoyed the first audiobook I listened to. Each of these articles were written in concise but also lively and engaging styles, with well presented ideas that are easily comprehended.

One of my favourite ones has to be this one about task delegation, in which the author uses the analogy of a monkey on one's back to describe a task or problem that needs to be solved in the workplace. The article emphasizes how managers need to be mindful of how they delegate work to their subordinates, and how they address their associates' queries, such that their monkeys do not end up being transferred onto your back. The idea is that one needs to ensure that your subordinate takes ownership of the problem and solves it, not turn around and make it your problem instead, whereupon you will eventually be one loaded with the "monkeys" from your boss as well as your subordinate.

Why does all of this happen? Because in each instance the manager and the subordinate assume at the outset, wittingly or unwittingly, that the matter under consideration is a joint problem. The monkey in each case begins its career astride both their backs. All it has to do is move the wrong leg, and—presto!—the subordinate deftly disappears. The manager is thus left with another acquisition for his menagerie. Of course, monkeys can be trained not to move the wrong leg. But it is easier to prevent them from straddling backs in the first place.
HBR: Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?

I was so enlightened and fascinated by this article that I started furiously jotting down notes to bear in mind. AB curiously asked what I was so engrossed in, and I gave him a summary of it, exclaiming, "This is so true! I have a tendency of letting these monkeys cross onto my back!" He shrugged, "No, it never happens to me, once I gave them the monkey, it's theirs and they are supposed to handle it. I don't expect to hear about it again." I gaped at him, "Don't you even ask for a report to let you know when the monkey is fixed?" He shook his head, gave me his classic steely stare and stated,"No. Once I delegate it, I already consider it done." Gulp. I suddenly had this visual of terrified monkeys scampering off his back as he flicked his finger to indicate their designated owners. :p

In any case, yet another book that was a pleasant one to "listen" to, kinda like the equivalent of TED talks or podcasts I guess, except I'm not the type to proactively search for those to listen, so it was quite interesting to listen to this series that gave some really good food for thought on how I can better myself in my career as it evolves and develops. Well, I guess I could ask AB for tips too, except I'm not so sure his methods will work for me as they had for him, very successfully too. Oof.


nua-ster said...

heehee.. anything w monkey hur.. *points to procrastination monkey*

b.muse said...

nua-ster: Ya, poor monkeys!! :p