Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Faster employees may indirectly motivate colleagues to increase production

Date:
June 20, 2010
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
You wouldn't think that there would be much similarity between a hockey line and an automobile assembly line. However, management-science researchers say that both groups can learn something about line design and human behavior, which may help them perform better.

You wouldn't think that there would be much similarity between a hockey line and an automobile assembly line. However, management-science researchers say that both groups can learn something about line design and human behaviour, which may help them perform better.
Credit: iStockphoto/Joseph Gareri

You wouldn't think that there would be much similarity between a hockey line and an automobile assembly line. However, University of Alberta management-science researcher Ken Schultz says that both groups can learn something about line design and human behaviour, which may help them perform better.

Schultz, who recently published an article in Management Science, analyzed production-line data from a General Motors plant and identified that there seemed to be a shift in how fast the task was completed. What he and his fellow researchers hypothesized was that these workers, who were performing similar tasks, were positively influenced by the performance on a fellow worker who completed his task more efficiently.

Schultz found that an individual's performance level may have a direct effect on what becomes "a good day's work" in that some members may change their work behaviour to match the output of their co-worker.

Schultz ties the results of their study to the principle of equity theory, or the idea that motivation comes from fair treatment -- a good day's work for a good day's pay. "The workers may think 'we're not really connected, so I have no real reason to care about how fast you are working. But I'm a human being and I do care, and I do notice,'" said Schultz, who concluded that is possible for "people [to] change based on what they see."

Part of that change, Schultz found in his analysis of the production-line data, was that, by changing up lines to introduce a higher-performing worker to an average or lower-than-average performing line, an impact can be made on efficiency or productivity.

However, Schultz notes, simple switching people on teams will not produce the desired effect. In a plant, as in hockey, knowing which players to change up will provide the most benefit.

"You'd look for the person who's a good performer but doesn't react to others around him; that's the person you want to move to the low-level team," he said, because "there's a good chance he's going to be a person who has proven to be a leader.

Schultz also noted that the design of the workspace is equally important in influencing productivity, yet is an aspect that is ignored when designing new plants or redesigning workspaces. The key is to arrange the area so that workers are facing each other when performing their tasks, rather than facing away from each other, or in same direction. Allowing the workers to observe and monitor the speed of their co-workers is the necessary catalyst for the behavioural change to occur, he says.

"You don't have to say anything, you don't have to do anything, you don't have to put a flashing light over their head, said Schultz. "Just make sure people can see each other and allow the workers to do what they would naturally do."

Thus, whether seeking to improve productivity or build a strong contender for Lord Stanley's Cup, Schultz says that, while the environments and processes are different, being mindful of the human element and its motivational properties can produce the desired effect.

"Good coaches have seen this, and we have research that shows it's being doing in the factory floor as well," said Schultz. "You want your team to have not just good or average -- or even great players -- that can play well no matter where they are.

"To get that extra bit, you want to find the good or great players who will perform better around other great players."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. L. Schultz, T. Schoenherr, D. Nembhard. An Example and a Proposal Concerning the Correlation of Worker Processing Times in Parallel Tasks. Management Science, 2009; 56 (1): 176 DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.1090.1080

Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Faster employees may indirectly motivate colleagues to increase production." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100615141749.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2010, June 20). Faster employees may indirectly motivate colleagues to increase production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100615141749.htm
University of Alberta. "Faster employees may indirectly motivate colleagues to increase production." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100615141749.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2014) According to researchers at Albright College, women have the ability to make their voices sound sexier, but men don't. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins