If your clients observed you drafting their documents, speaking to the other party’s lawyer, or arguing a motion on their behalf, do you think you might do things a little differently?
Scientists say you would.
It’s called “The Hawthorne Effect” and it refers to a phenomenon “in which individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.”
When you’re part of an experiment or study and you know you’re being observed (and measured), for example, you work harder or faster, take fewer risks or more risks, and otherwise change what you do in order to better your outcome.
If you have partners, for example, you are accountable to them and no doubt this makes you work harder than you otherwise might.
Because someone is watching.
How could you use “The Hawthorne Effect” to improve your performance? You could get a workout partner or coach and have them hold you accountable. A daily check-in and report is very likely to improve your performance.
You could “go public” with some of your goals, announcing them to people who would care if you don’t reach them. Knowing they are watching will undoubtedly drive you to reach those goals.
Another way to use “The Hawthorne Effect” to your advantage would be to systematically record your results and compare them to previous efforts. Write down how many calls you made this week, or how many words you wrote. Record the number of new clients you brought in this month, and every month from now on.
If you’re not tallying your activities and results, then “nobody” is watching you and you are unlikely to modify your behavior, at least not consistently. When you start documenting your numbers, however, you will naturally push yourself to improve those numbers.
Even though you’re the only one who is watching.
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