monitoring performance to death

I love statements that have the word “fact!” With an exclamation mark. It’s like “And THAT’S science, bitch!”. All sassy like. This piece, from the improbably but literally named incognitoinrome, contains actual science AND fact.

Becoming Better

In economics opting for the middle ground is usually best. But in this case, the extremes seem to be a better choice: monitor hard, or do not monitor at all. A little bit of monitoring only annoys the good workers, causing them to slacken off. And sometimes the wisest thing is just to let people get on with their job.

So says this week’s Economist, reporting on research that has just come out in which volunteers were given a task to do under various degrees of supervision. The unsupervised group performed well, on time, with few mistakes. The extremely supervised group was more careful, more accurate, and slower. The slightly supervised group made the most mistakes of all and was also slower. “This means that resources devoted to monitoring were wasted.”

Great paradox. If you pay someone to work for you, you want to know that they are doing…

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