A few years ago, Chandra Clarke, who runs Scribendi, an editing and proofreading firm, had some stickers printed up to affix to all the workstations in the office. They read, “Feed or shoot the monkey.” The expression was meant to encourage her staff to think about how high up the organization’s food chain any given question needs to travel.
Clarke has run the Chatham, Ont., company since 1997 and realized, as it began to attract more and more work, that she and her partner needed to do less. “What is the highest and best use of our time?” she asks herself and her staff. Enter the cheeky stickers, which were inspired by a hugely popular 1974 Harvard Business Review essay about how managers should deal with the torrent of responsibilities on their to-do lists. Giving staff the agency to make decisions for themselves, says Clarke, has empowered her employees to come up with decisions and options