Change Agents or Social Loafers? (Wendy Samson, Curt Swenson, 2017)

Wendy Samson tells a story about how the Walt Disney family would often walk job candidates around the Disneyland Park, taking note of which ones would take the time to pick up any paper or debris they saw on the ground and which ones would avoid this seemingly menial task. Can you guess which ones they would hire?

Take a Psychology 101 class and you will learn that “people tend to exert less effort when working with others and more effort when working alone, unless the group is made aware of what each member is contributing. (Meier, et al 2010).” This phenomenon is called social loafing.

Conversely, the idea that when each person in the organization, from the custodian to the CEO, understand and embrace the organizational expectations, a culture of change agency is the result; with every team member feeling both empowered and responsible.

It is obvious that a workplace environment full of change agents is better than one where social loafing is the norm, but what can leaders do to combat social loafing and to create change agents? FutureSYNC International suggests that you ask yourself the following questions:

Are Your Service Standards Evident? – An organization can develop their standards only to find them shoved into a desk drawer once the exercise is over. Ask your team to examine where your service standards are posted, when they are talked about, demonstrated, tweaked and how they are celebrated. Do your utmost in making them EVIDENT to each employee and customer.

Are You the Sole Decision-Maker? – Do you allow your team to answer their own questions first or are you quick to provide all of the answers? Answer only primary questions or you will end up doing most of the agency work.

Does Decision-Making Happen at the Lowest Level Possible? – Some companies simply give this concept lip service, but sanction people when they make decisions in real time. Hire good people and then get out of their way. Provide opportunities for them to come to you with primary questions only.

Do You Back Your People’s Decisions? – A culture of agency can not occur if your team members don’t trust you. Even when mistakes are made, allow people to try again and self-correct.

For more on building a climate of change agency vs. social loafing, contact FutureSYNC International and attend one of our transformational Executive Intelligence seminars at (406) 254-2326.