What is the Ringelmann Effect?
I learned about this conundrum a few years back when I was the director of a department and I was in desperate need of some quality help. I really could have stayed with just 2-4 efficient individuals, but I knew that if I had a staff of 6, I would have it made. This crisis was the start of what is known as the Ringelmann Effect.
My current staff was actually fantastic on their own. They pulled their weight. They went above and beyond. They made my life so much easier.
But as I hired 4, then 5, then finally 6, I noticed that productivity was down. Efficiency was down. And, this was the worst for me... motivation and drive were down.
I found out that my employees were realizing that the more people I hired onto the team, the less they had to "throw themselves head first into everything" <-- that's actually how my employee stated his view of the situation to me. But I wanted my people to throw themselves head first into everything.. because every time they did that, the passion was up, the efficiency and the motivation was up, and therefore our numbers were ten times better than they were during times of lulling productivity.
I ended up transferring a few of the employees that I felt "could be very useful in other departments" and giving all the workload back to the 3 employees that were originally on my staff. The more I delegated within those 3 employees, the more responsibility they wanted and the more pride they had in their work. Turns out I was better off with less bodies and more responsibility delegations.
I realized that by hiring more people I was beginning to delegate TASKS as opposed to responsibilities. The responsibilities of the original employees were taken away and they were just left with the busy work, so the pride in their work suffered. When they were given their responsibilities back (and not just the task aspect of the job), their drive to do good work returned very quickly.