Business Building: Get The Monkey Off Your Back!

Words: George HedleyMaking all the important decisions yourself and doing tasks you should delegate holds your company back from growing and making profits you are capable of achieving. When you do things you can delegate to employees it also causes you to get overloaded. And when your plate gets too full, you stop your company from growing, doing better projects, finding profitable customers, and maximizing your bottom-line. In other words, you become the roadblock or throttle that restricts your company from reaching its’ potential.   Stop being in charge of everything!  Want more time off? Want to build a better business? Want better customers? Want a strong management team? Want accountable people? Want to make more money? It’ll never happen with you 100 percent in charge of everything and chief worker and decision maker in your company. When you are doing take-offs and estimates, ordering supplies, going to the hardware store, making sure your crews are working, checking field details, operating equipment, or actually doing some of the construction work yourself, your business is stuck at the level of what you can do, control, and micro-manage.   Employees don’t like to be tightly supervised, over-checked, micro-managed, and not be given authority to make decisions. When they can’t make decisions and have no say in how a project or task is to be completed, they don’t take responsibility or act accountable for what they aren’t in charge of. When you tell people what to do without their input or ideas, they decide if and when they’ll do it. Plus people who aren’t allowed to provide input don’t feel part of a team and therefore decide if they’ll do their best. Therefore, they do as little work as possible for an over-bearing boss who does all the talking and no listening. This downward cycle continues on and on which frustrates the control-freak boss who doesn’t understand why he or she can’t find any accountable or responsible help. Why? Who would want to work for a freak!   Are you the coach or player?  Look at construction companies who continue to prosper and grow every year. The owner or president acts as the head coach and spends his time planning, negotiating, selling, presenting, coaching, training, hiring, reviewing results, tracking results, and leading the management team. Not doing or controlling work. When you coach a winning team, your job is to lead, strategize, set goals, develop a standardized playbook, track player’s performance, motivate, inspire, encourage, train, call the right plays, put in the best players, make people perform, hold meetings, innovate, and WIN the game. Winning coaches call the plays but never get on the field and play the game.  Leadership is about getting people them to WANT to follow and do their best. Winning coaches are great motivators who build positive attitudes and teamwork focused on achieving a common goal. To make this happen, leaders insure they provide clear instructions, targets, goals, follow-up, input, review, feedback, and systems to monitor expected results on a regular basis. Before a team is left alone to play a game, time is invested in training and reinforcement of fundamentals required so the team can perform efficiently and accurately. When construction business owners act as leaders, they delegate responsibility to project managers, superintendents, and foremen who act as team captains empowered and responsible to achieve results, know exactly what’s expected, when it’s required to be completed, and the standard system to get the work done.  Who’s responsible for what?  Business owners complain they can’t find any good help. But in reality, they don’t spend time or effort looking for help, and hope someone perfect arrives on their doorstep. Finding good people takes a plan. First you have to decide which key position you need that’ll allow you to delegate getting work completed. For example, most business owners should focus on getting profitable work and developing loyal customers as their number one priority. Therefore, they should create responsible positions to allow for delegating project management, field supervision, office administration, and financial management to people who have those gifts.   Start by making a clear and detailed job description of what you want each position to be accountable for and what tasks you want them to do on a regular basis. To get sample accountable job descriptions, email The rest is simple. Run an ad and start interviewing. After selecting the right employee candidate, hire them and give them a ninety-day probationary period to see how they turn out working for you in their new position. Meet with them every week to review their results based on what they have committed to achieve, accountabilities and responsibilities.    Let go of monkeys!  People are lined up outside your door waiting for you to make decisions for them because you make all their decisions for them. Therefore, they continue to ask for help. Decisions are often called ‘monkeys’ people want to get off their back. Monkeys like to jump from employees upward towards the boss who has bigger decision making power. Monkeys can be taken from subordinates or rejected. But the tendency is for bosses to want and accept lots of monkeys which elevates their control and power. Monkeys show up at the boss’s door when the employee says: “Boss, we have a problem.” The boss says he’ll help and therefore accepts the monkey as his issue to solve. The employee leaves happy he didn’t have to make a decision that might have upset the boss.  To start letting go of tasks you shouldn’t do and decisions you shouldn’t make starts with having the right people you can delegate to. Currently you likely have capable people who’ve been held back by your controlling style. Now let’s give them a change to excel. When people bring you problems to solve, turn things around and ask them what strategies and actions they suggest to solve their problems. Listen first and then offer suggestions and advice to consider.   Next ask the employee to identify the next move for the monkey to take. Ask them how they’ll handle the decision, what steps they’ll take, and how they’ll get things done and the task completed. Determine if there are any risk factors or financial decisions to make along the way. Decide on limits of authority or when they might need to get approval for decisions, if any. Then tell them their solution sounds good and reinforce that they’re responsible to take the next step and accomplish the task by the agreed upon date. Before you adjourn your meeting, set check-in and follow-up times or appointments to keep the monkey moving towards the expected results you have agreed on.   Stop being the monkey keeper!  When you solve other people’s problems, they will continue to bring you more problems or monkeys to solve. Your new job is to transfer ownership of issues to the right person who should handle the challenge. The problem and solution is you. Stop demanding more monkeys be placed on your back. Delegation starts with trust. Start with letting go of small tasks and decisions and you will soon see that it is easier than you thought it would be. Your company can’t grow unless you’re willing to delegate and assign accountability and responsibility to others.  Go through your in-basket and ‘to-do’ list of what you handle on a regular basis. Make it your goal to delegate at least fifty percent of everything you do and decisions you make to an accountable person. As you hand off each responsibility, make sure you take time to teach them what it takes to get it done right, explain the standardized process or system, discuss the financial levels of authority for decisions, and set follow-up and check-in times to review the progress and results for each assignment.   ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As a professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker, George Hedley helps contractors increase profits, grow and get their companies to work! He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available at his online bookstore at E-mail to sign-up for his free e-newsletter, join a peer mastermind BIZGROUP, attend a BIZ-BUILDER Boot Camp, implement the BIZ-BUILDER BLUEPRINT, or get a discount for online courses at George Hedley CSP CPBC HARDHAT Presentations Phone:             (800) 851-8553 Email: website: 

Words: George Hedley
Are Your Employees Safe While Working In Hot Weather?

As the temperatures rise outside during summer months, so do the risks that employees working in hot conditions may be harmed by the dangerous effects it can have. Exposure to high temperatures can be deadly.1 It’s your responsibility as a business owner

Maximizing Efficiency with CrewTracks

In the masonry industry, efficient project management is crucial for success. CrewTracks addresses this need by streamlining various aspects of daily operations.

SOLA Innovation: Digital Levels

In 2021, SOLA introduced a new generation of digital levels at the World of Concrete. Because it was in the midst of Covid it wasn’t the most well-attended show, but we were optimistic. We attended, showcasing both our SOLA and Keson brands. The standout

Bonding with Masonry 2024 Q2

This issue’s questions come from an Architect, an Engineer. and a Mason Contractor. What questions do you have? Send them to, attention Technical Talk.