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Does watching workers increase or decrease productivity?

by AirTalk

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What happens to your productivity when the boss is watching? Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

When the boss is away, the workers will play, as the old saying goes, more or less. But new research out of Harvard Business School finds that productivity is actually increased when workers aren’t being closely monitored by managers.

Ethan Bernstein monitored a Chinese factory and found that when the bosses were watching, employees would do everything by the book to keep a low profile. But when the managers weren’t watching, the workers would use different tricks they had developed to work faster. In one study, using a curtain as a barrier between workers and managers increased productivity by 10 to 15 percent.

How much monitoring of workers is too much? Do you find that your work is more efficient when your boss isn’t hanging around?

Ethan Bernstein, Assistant Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Harvard Business School; lead researcher of the paper titled “The Transparency Paradox

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