Shifting the Monkey, by Todd Whitaker

A book I am currently reading is written by Todd Whitaker:

Shifting the Monkey: The Art of Protecting Good People From Liars, Criers, and Other Slackers 

Click on the link above to read the book description from  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how monkeys tend to be shifted in your profession.  


  1. Why is it that we shift "monkeys" from those who are weak, lazy, or unmotivated to those individuals who are our super stars? This happens everywhere you go, and it can create such anger and hostility towards others. This is especially so in education, in my opinion, and there isn't much administrators can do. What I mean by this is the fact that if you have a tenured employee who no longer puts forth the energy and effort necessary to be an effective educator, the unions protect these individuals. How can this be? This is not only frustrating to the employees but also to the leadership. Sometimes, it gets so aggravating that those in charge get fed up and pull in the whole workplace instead of just those individuals that are slacking.

    Whitaker says it best on pp. 39-40: "Never address an entire group regarding the negative behaviors of a few. Don't let a few bad apples drive how you treat everyone." This is something that we need to keep at the forefront of our minds because we need to make sure we aren't negating the "good" employees who are making the good choices. What are your thoughts? How do we remember this quote when we are at our wit's end with a few "rotten eggs"?

    1. This is just like in our classrooms....don't have the "talk" with the whole class and discipline everyone if 2 students were talking while you were talking. It just brings the whole group down. When you are trying to build a positive morale and a safe community-tearing the whole group down will not help in that effort. Your staff will stop going over and beyond because they feel like everything they do is not appreciated or noticed. Many teachers do not do what they do for recognition, but an occasional, "Hey, what you are doing is great! Keep it up!" is reaffirming that what they are doing is right for the kids!

    2. I completely agree, Shammas! What are your thoughts on "whole class discipline?" This is what I would compare "whole class staff" discussions to, and I need to remember this when talking with adults. It is the same thing and can be VERY demeaning to group everyone together. Do you think it's better to address those specific people instead of the whole class? What do you do when it's a majority? How do you handle that?

    3. Whole class discipline---I think if you approach it in a positive way (even though you are talking about something negative) and reiterate that everyone makes mistakes and we learn from them, that it is beneificial---especially if it is a majority. You can't be demeaning, as you said. There's a difference in your tone and the words you choose to use, that changes it from being a chance for people/students to see their mistakes and try and change vs. tearing someone down and making them feel bad.

  2. As I finished up the book tonight, I was totally caught off guard by something Whitaker wrote in Chapter 6: Protect Your Good People First. He states, "Your people are NOT equal; they excel in different areas and should be treated accordingly. It's OK to give preferential treatment to your superstars, as long as you also give everyone else an opportunity to improve and shine" (p. 93).

    At first, I was like --- Yeah, you go, Whitaker! It seems like we are so worried about hurting someone's feelings that we try to include everyone in everything. Sometimes, this just doesn't work. If you need an outstanding job done, why wouldn't you pick the best person for the job? For some instances, it doesn't make sense to "share the wealth."

    One the other side, though, I can see this creating animosity if you ALWAYS go to the superstars. This wouldn't give anyone else the opportunity to spread their wings and fly. There are definitely times that you need to give others a chance so they can learn and grow into stronger individuals.

    Overall, I really liked this idea because it has resonated in my mind --- there are times and opportunities for everyone, but everyone might not be fit for the times and opportunities. I like this. Now I feel I can relax. :-)

  3. I think SB is so unique in this! Everyone has so many strengths and I really feel like our admin goes to many different people for their thoughts and for their strengths. I have seen buildings where admin goes to the SAME person or 3 people for everything. It makes everyone feel like we are not doing anything good.

    But, at SB many people are tapped on the shoulder. I think if people want to be more involved or they feel like they have strengths to share, but not being asked...they should talk to admin! It is so much better than becoming bitter or worse yet, exploding one day! eeeeek!!!

    I LOVE being a SHARK!