Posted in Management, People, Productivity


When I say to people that it does not matter what you do, but that you do, they look at me as if I have broccoli in my teeth.

Every entrepreneur must go through the stage where they have to step up to managing people as part of their growth curve. Usually this causes some discomfort to all but the most natural people managers.

When it comes to people management, there is a lot of advice around. The problem is that it is usually contradictory as you find out when you dig deep enough or have been around long enough.

Not to worry; the reality is that it does not matter what you do, just that you do.

Just fiddle, that is.

The ‘Hawthorne Effect’ is what happens when people improve or modify an aspect of their behaviour simply in response to the fact that they are being studied. That is, they change because they are being studied.

The term was coined in 1950 by Henry Landsberger when reviewing experiments conducted earlier at the Hawthorne Works by Elton Mayo (image) to see if its workers would become more productive in higher or lower levels of light. The workers’ productivity seemed to improve when changes were made and slumped when the study was concluded. It did not matter whether the lighting was better or worse, their productivity went up.

So it is with managing people. As long as you are showing them some love – fiddle with the structure, fiddle with the benefits, fiddle with the staff uniforms – any kind of fiddling really, they feel happy – or at least happier.

Companies go through natural cycles; centralisation, decentralisation or diversification and then focus on the core business. (See what I mean by contradictions?) There is always an argument to be had for the opposite of the status quo, so companies use this to effect changes – which will usually work – at least in the short term.

Switch on the lights, switch off the lights.

Just show that you care.

That is the basic rule of management.

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