Hawthorne Effect?

by Anonymous

Photo Credit: Michael  Koukoullis

Photo Credit: Michael Koukoullis

We have a small team in a large department where I work, which ended up with a significant backlog of outstanding jobs.




As managers, we focussed on tracking the number of outstanding jobs week to week, and displaying the graph so the team could be aware of the outstanding jobs and hopefully have some extra motivation from watching the number of outstanding jobs reduce each week.

In addition we would praise them if the number of jobs reduced over the week and not say anything if it increased slightly. After continuing like this for a couple of months, we were starting to run out of ideas to increase productivity. With not very much notice, our attention needed to shift to an unrelated project which took up a lot of our time. At the completion of the project (during which we didn't provide any feedback to the team) we ran a report and found that the number of outstanding jobs had dramatically decreased, with no additional resource input.

This seems to be the opposite of what we were taught about regarding the Hawthorne Effect. Is there any such thing as an inverse Hawthorn Effect?

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