Monkey Business: Aping Around in the Office
A strange new experiment is leading business moguls to visit chimp enclosures at the zoo to take board room lessons. Just what are they learning?
A programme has been launched at Chester Zoo, where the BBC reports that cages are being opened for business men and women to observe chimps… for a management training course.
According to course leader Patrick van Veen, management skills are achieved through the understanding of how similar your colleaguesΓÇÖ behaviours are to those of an ape. His idea was inspired by an old boss.
ΓÇ£He was about two metres tall, he was huge, and he had small glasses,ΓÇ¥ Mr van Veen told the BBC. ΓÇ£When you entered his office, heΓÇÖd stare at you over them. He really was a gorilla.ΓÇ¥
The programme, which is already successful in Belgium, Germany and Holland, helps professionals to identify the range of overt ape-like goings-on that take place in the average office.
Some are the result of the hierarchy that establishes itself in the workplace. Such monkey business includes dominant male behaviours such as slapping inferior members on the back and standing up tall.
Other behaviour is more socially equalising and takes place among chimps or staff of the same level of authority. This includes chatting and drinking coffee together in the office, which can be seen among chimps in various forms of social grooming.
ΓÇÿCommunication in the WorkforceΓÇÖ
For Chester ZooΓÇÖs in-house Research Officer, Sonya Hill, the scientific basis for the experiment is clear.
ΓÇ£ThereΓÇÖs only a 1.4% difference in genetic material between humans and chimpanzees,ΓÇ¥ explains Ms Hill.
ΓÇ£We groom each other socially, communicating with your friends and making sure in a work environment that you find out about your colleagues.
ΓÇ£By watching your colleagues, you can start to understand how you interact with one another, how you use communication in the workforce to get on better.ΓÇ¥
Can you identify any monkey business in your office? Do you think thereΓÇÖs a lot to learn from monkeys about our own professional conduct? Share your thoughts in the comments below.