News & Views

Monkey business in the boardroom

BY Greg Fletcher
Employment law
BG Purple

It’s a well known fact that humans share 99% of their genetic makeup with chimpanzees, but have you ever thought about how behavioural similarities translate into the workplace? No, us neither.

Come to think of it, though, we’re sure everyone has had a boss that, on a bad day, reminds them of King Kong in full plane-swatting, skyscraper-clambering glory. And what about the back-slapping, testosterone-driven horde of males that every workplace seems to have in some form or another? Or the gaggle of gossipy girls that hold court in the lunch room, putting the world to rights in fervent hushed tones?  

Maybe we can learn more from chimps than we think. One man who is a firm believer in this is Patrick Van Veen, who has set up a management training course using chimps from Chester Zoo. Participants observe the social interactions of the animals and are taught to ape this in the boardroom.  

Mr Van Veen believes that workers can understand their colleagues better by learning from animal behaviour; in particular by recognising “grooming behaviours”. So, next time your colleagues are driving you bananas, why not whip out the old hairbrush and start giving their hair a comb!

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