Tuesday 25 September 2012

Social Loafing

Why Social Loafing is good for small business owners  

You’re a contractor, a freelancer or a small business owner.
Are you missing out on having loads of colleagues, people who can pitch in, lend their expertise and dream up fresh angles? If you’re drowning – not waving – and you’re finding it difficult to cope with all the work, would having a team on the job mean you’d get stuff done faster, in direct proportion to the number of extra hands on board?

Not necessarily. We assume that when we’re joined by others, together we’ll work harder and become more accomplished. But in reality, research proves we don’t pull anywhere near as much weight in a group as we do on our own. Once we have willing helpers, we slack off and invest less effort because we know our work will be pooled. And we know we won’t be judged on our individual efforts, either!

Evolved behaviour

Social loafing isn’t conscious. It’s one of those unconscious behaviours humans have evolved, probably because in evolutionary terms there’s no need to knock yourself out expending valuable energy when the burden can be shared.

Blindfold tug of war

How do the egg heads know there’s such a thing as social loafing? In one experiment the psychologist Alan Ingham set up a blindfold tug of war, with one person at each end of the rope. When he told them they were part of a team, they pulled 18% less hard than when they were told they were alone.

You can read about more social loafing experiments in the book, ‘You Are Not So Smart’ by David McRaney.

Why’s it good for lone cowboys?

The strange phenomenon of Social Loafing works to your advantage. You can drop the notion that the faster you can grow and take more people on, the more efficient things will get. You do a fantastic job on your own. Well done! When you do expand your business, just remember to put some careful thought into the way you distribute tasks and share responsibilities.

That way you’ll get the very best out of everyone.