Little HR Lie that increases productivity

PM Essence

The Little HR Lie That Increases Productivity

 

By – Victoria Pynchon
Want to get your work team out of the doldrums, off their Facebook pages and away from office cooler lolly gagging, backbiting, and malingering? Try lying to them.
 
As the New York Times explained in 32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow (No. 18, the Liar’s Workout) social scientists who engaged in a little “strategic lying” produced improved performance in the research lab. As the Times explained.
 
For a [recent] study, human cyclists were pitted against a computer-generated opponent moving at, supposedly, the exact speed the cyclist had achieved in an earlier time trial. 

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In fact, the avatars were moving 2 percent faster, and the human cyclists matched them, reaching new levels of speed.
 
Psychoanalysts and child development experts have a benign term for this sort of white lie when mothers tell it to their toddlers and therapists to their patients. It’s called positive distortion. And when it’s done with positive emotion, it’s called positive affective coloration. All mothers, therapists and employers have to do to enhance performance with these slight beneficial falsehoods is to act as if their charges are able to speak or act just a little bit better than they’re actually able to. Baby says ba and mom, clapping her hands in delight, says good baby! Ballllllll.
 
Ba to Balllll and the two percent increase used in the research lab take place in what psychologist Lev Vygotsky calls the zone of proximal development. This is the space in which all learning takes place. It permits baby, client and employee to take a manageable stretch from fumbling to reliably catching; from inattention to diligence, from biting all my finger nails to biting only nine, then eight, then seven. This is the environment in which new habits can successfully be formed and old ones broken. It’s the relationship that allows the baby to get from ba to BIGBLUEBALL without undue effort.
 
Psychoanalyst and healthcare manager Dr. Anne LaBorde says everything good that happens between a therapist and a client or between and manager and her team, takes place in a manageable stretch. Step by step, she believes, absolutely anything is possible. As she said in an interview with me several years ago.
 
As biologists, we pretty well know how we evolved from fish in the sea. But if you and I were living on fish planet and I told you that one day the fish would become human beings, you’d call me crazy. But that’s exactly what happened, in manageable stretches, over the course of evolutionary history.
 
Manage the Stretch
Go ahead and give it a try. Don’t expect the worst from your human resources. Act as if your staff is doing a slightly better job than they are and see how long it takes them to live up to your positive distortions and start delivering the highest quality work product necessary to survive in this postrecessionary economy.
 
As Anne Lamott said in her guide to writing for beginners, Bird by Bird, E.L. Doctorow said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.

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