Friday, March 29, 2019

Don’t Form Teams!!

If the research is correct, don’t have people work in teams. As it’s been reported in other places, the distinction made is that high performers pull up low performers by 15%. Low performers pull down others by 30%. This seems bad and not a good idea. It means teams will spiral down in performance.

This is how it’s been re-broadcast in other sources, but it’s not quite what the research says.

For example, and according to the ‘popular’ reporting of the study, let’s say you have a high performer at 90% productivity. It could be greater because the effect is even worse at a higher productivity level. Let’s say the low performer is at 70%. By sitting next to a low performer, the high performing person loses 27% of their productivity (30% of 90%). Meanwhile, the low performing person gains just over 10% productivity (15% of 70%), maybe a bit more if their initial productivity is higher. But even if the high/low distinction is 85-90%, the low performer only gains 13% while the top performer still loses 27%. The pair’s performance deteriorates. If the team would need to have one high performer and 3 at 70% in order to have team performance improve; the team probably needs a 3:1 ratio of low performers:high performers.

Fortunately, that’s not what the research showed. The study showed that the low performers get a bump up, and the high performer doesn’t decrease productivity. The high performance is only degraded if they’re by a toxic employee, which in this study was only 2% of the total employee population.

So please do form teams. But keep the toxic employees out of them.

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