HR City

HR City >>  Expert  >>  

Dr.J.Christopher Daniel, M.A., Ph.D


Dr.J.Christopher Daniel, M.A., Ph.D
Former Professor of Social work & HRM and Executive Director
Dr.J.Christopher Daniel is the Founder and Executive Director of the Goodwill social work centre, Madurai, India.He is a former professor and Head-Department of human resources management at the Madurai Institute of social sciences, Madurai, India. He received his master's degree in Social work with Human resources management as a field of specialization from the Loyola College (University of Madras), Chennai, India in 1971 and Ph. D in social work/HRM from the Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India in 1988.He holds a Certificate in International interdisciplinary Course on Children's rights awarded by the University of Ghent, Belgium in 1996.

The people manager is one who leads,motivate,inspire and encourage people at work  places.His job is also to hire,fire,discipline and evaluate them. We see people manager at various societal institutions with different nomenclature.A teacher in a school,a professor in college/university,a husband in a family,manager in corporate and non-corporate sectors.It is an inescapable role of every person who ought to perform role as a people manager.At work places people managers perform  the toughest possible tasks  namely coaching and inspiring employees, offering them guidance in their career, motivating them during organisational changes,and so on. 

Managers who get involved in relationship management of getting things done through employees at workplace are often confronted with managing ‘people problems concerning attitude or performance. These problems revolve around 1.Environment- unsafe workplace or hazardous place or real or perceived hazards affecting their health 2.Skills-Incompatibility between skills and work performance, aberrant work performance resulting in mental impairment 3.Beliefs-Employee belief that high performance is not achievable or working conditions are unacceptable and limiting beliefs causing insecurity. 4. Values-Mismatch between employees’ values and work team and organizational values 5-Identity-Incompatible personalities of employees and managers and emotional immaturity of employees which may not be appropriate for a task to perform. and 6.Transpersonal- social rejection or ostracism by work group or team or inability to adjust  to the workplace or corporate culture.

Most organisations have some problem employees, who continue to carry their monkeys(monkeys) on their back when they come to the workplace or let their monkeys leapfrog on the manager’s back. Consequently a situation arises wherein the manager is not able to find solutions to the employee’s problems nor he is able to get rid of them. Managers are people persons who are required to handle the employees with  problems and take positive and corrective action as far as possible.

There are problem situations in the workplace which bother either the manager or employee or both. What is recognised by a manager as a ‘people problem’ caused at workplace may not be perceived by employee as a problem to himself and vice versa. Sometimes, both the manager and the employee may or may not perceive a caused situation as a problem to them.

The ‘monkey on the back’ analogy developed by William Oncken,Jr brings into focus four potential ‘monkey business’(problem)situations in an organisation.

Problem situation I: ‘The manager has a monkey’. The behaviour of an employee is a problem to the manager but not to the employee. In this, monkey business situation, the ‘monkey’ is on the manager’s back.

Problem situation II: Both manager and employee have a ‘monkey’. The employee’s behaviour is a problem to both the manager and the employee. Apparently enough both have a monkey on their back.

Problem situation III: The employee has a monkey. The employee’s behaviour is a problem to the employee but not to the manager. In this situation, the monkey is on the employee’s back.

Problem situation IV: Neither the manager nor the employee has a ‘monkey’. The employee’s behaviour is a problem to neither manager nor employee. Both perceive there is no problem, therefore the monkey is gone.

Considering the above monkey business situations, if you are a Manager who is involved in people management what role you would be expected to play, where there is a perceived monkey on your employee’s back or your back?

Rescuer role or persecutor role? Obviously enough, you may be responding to a monkey (problem) either way. If you respond from the persecutor’s role, you will put the employee down for having a monkey (problem).From the rescuer’s role, you would then try to solve the problem for the employee. Neither roles will help you nor your employees solve your own problems. Oftentimes, you may respond in such a way that you invite employees’ monkeys promptly  to climb up on your back, crawl up  your leg, swing  above you or  straddle both backs.

You need to know as to how you should feed or shoot the monkeys either by making directive or supportive intervention. You should make your employees understand why you cannot either carry their monkeys or allow them to jump on your back from your employees’ back. You should learn to know when these monkeys are to be fed or shoot. You should keep the monkey population below the number you have time to feed. You should feed them by appointments only and the monkeys must be fed face-to-face. ‘It is a tragedy that many managers often treat the monkey business situation as if it were a problem to neither’(Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard,1986)


Dr.J.Christopher Daniel,M.A.,Ph.D
5,South street Extension
Singarayar colony

Dr.Christopher Daniel is a former Professor of Social work and HRM at Madurai.He can be contacted at