General Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Have you ever been part of an organization where more than 20% of the group did the work?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) May 26th, 2012

It’s a commonly heard phrase that in organizations 20% of the group do all the work. The other 80% watch and then partake of the fun.

Have you ever been part of a group where the leaders were able to get more than the usual 20% to work?

Yes? How did they manage it? What were their enticements? (Free pizza?)

Are you usually part of that core that does the work?

Are you normally part of the large group that participates in the fun after all the hard work is done? What could get you to take part in the work days?

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13 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

I volunteer with search and rescue and as everyone is eager to work his or her dog and possibly find the lost person (or human remains), we usually get 100% participation!

bolwerk's avatar

I think 80/20 has been pretty discredited – older MBAs swear by it, so I guess it was actually taught at one time – but it’s pretty common to find most people in an organization underperforming, which of course doesn’t mean they’re nonperforming.

Moving people to a new position or firing people (= getting rid of people with cause, as opposed to a layoff that does not show cause) isn’t as easy as most people imagine, so underperformers tend to stick around, too.

Ron_C's avatar

I spent many years in our local Rotary club. I don’t remember any project where we had less than 70% participation and we did a lot of things. For a club with less than 25 people we raised tens of thousands for immunizations around the world. We gave scholarships for high school graduates, had barbeques and pig roasts to raise money for local projects. No matter the project, members showed up and worked, probably because we had fun while doing it.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t find this to be true. I think it is the opposite. There are always a few who don’t help tow the line, but most people work very hard. Probably it is like a bell curve, a few people exceeding expectations, a bunch of people on par, and a few below just riding coat tails.

I have seen some fluther Q’s where people in school have complained that when put into groups for a project they wind up doing everything. But, they have mentioned part of the reason is because they like to get the work done as soon as possible. So, they take on the project because of their own anxiety about things getting to the last minute.

bolwerk's avatar

@Ron_C: that’s a good point, but a rotary club is full of people who want to be members for the purpose of fulfilling the club’s mission. People get jobs because they need them, and often don’t care if they perform especially well at them as long as they get their paycheck in the end.

@JLeslie: for my master degree, my GPA was seriously knocked down a tenth of a point or two because of the laziness of groups. And I studied industrial & organizational psychology.

JLeslie's avatar

@bolwerk That’s hysterical! Not your grade of course, but the specific class you were in. I probably should have said that in school there is a reasonable chance some of the members are not going to pull their weight. I think your point about people choosing to be members of a club is different than school or work. Although, in my club, there is a core group of people who do everything. They basically volunteer for it, and the ones who do volunteer do work hard. The rest of the people in the club do nothing. At work, I still think the bell curve applies. School, I think it varies. If someone in a group excells, and the rest of the people are average, than the “A” student is going to have to put in more time to get the whole project up to the “A” level. At work there is rarely below A work I would argue. You either do the job, or risk getting fired.

dabbler's avatar

The regular folks accomplish at average productivity rate.
It is clear that the standouts do tend to accomplish five, ten, a hundred times as much as the regulars. In my experience at non-profits there is a definite skew toward a few folks getting nearly everything done.
In the workplace it really does seem like 20% of the crew get 80% of the work done. This is weird because it always seems like everyone is busy, they’re doing something. But a small portion actual get most of that stuff out there, finished.

Jeruba's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake, are you speaking of a business organization—an office or division or company—or a volunteer-run social or cause-based organization? The answers above seem to be divided between those two interpretations. It makes a big difference whether we’re talking about people being paid for work they’re not doing or people joining a club without feeling like pitching in to run it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Jeruba, thank you for helping me clarify. I’m dealing with an all volunteer organization. We don’t even have a paid executive director. People clamor for the results but seem reluctant to participate in the production.

Ron_C's avatar

@bolwerk “People get jobs because they need them, and often don’t care if they perform especially well at them as long as they get their paycheck in the end.” That’s a very negative attitude toward the American labor force. Part of the work my company does is building things out of steel and aluminum. I can state for a fact that the guy where I work take a great deal of pride in their work. Sure they do it for the money but they consider themselves craftsmen and I agree.

bolwerk's avatar

@Ron_C: it’s not an attitude, it’s a motivational effect that happens in any labor force, Amerikan or otherwise. I would guess it’s probably greater at Burger King than it as your company, but it probably exists at your company too.

Ron_C's avatar

@bolwerk Granted, that motivation is greater in my company than in Burger King but I go to a great deal of manufacturing factories and notice the same attitude. The likely reason for the difference is that manufacturing contributes to the country’s wealth while Burger Kings just siphon money from the economy.

bolwerk's avatar

I would think the main reason, at least with skilled manufacturing, is it can be enjoyable/satisfying/[pick your adject]. Maybe people self-select for it, so they like it more. Burger King probably only offers opportunities for rote work. Also, that people aren’t motivated to work doesn’t mean they’re bad workers, either. They just might not be giving their all.

(I think it’s filth and destructive to people’s health, but in theory BK does add value to the economy.)

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