I just finished reading Gillian Flynn’s suspense novel, Gone Girl (and can totally understand why it was a mega best seller!)

The story is about a husband and wife, and the phrase that stuck with me is what they called “dancing monkeys.”  The term refers to husbands when wives make them do things  to prove their love: “pointless tasks, the myriad sacrifices, the endless small surrenders.”  Flynn writes it as “emotional coercion to play some happy-hubby role”, and the husband becomes a dancing monkey when he stays home instead of going out with the guys or the wife sulks when he arrives late.

I wonder if the dancing monkey concept translates in some form to the workplace.  Are there bosses who require their employees to continually prove their dedication to them in subtle but expected ways?  Do bosses impose unrealistic timelines or working hours to test loyalty or exert authority?  Are supervisors impertinent or standoffish if someone acts too independently for their taste?

In the book, the last thing Amy wanted to do was to make Nick feel like a dancing monkey. Evaluate your posturing and expectations to ensure that you aren’t making your employees see you as an organ grinder instead of a supervisor.

— beth triplett

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Broadway Books, 2014

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