It’s not uncommon to be frustrated by the performance of people within your team. It’s okay to grind your teeth about how much more of a burden this puts on you, the leader or manager.

Here’s what’s possible…

There’s one sole-practitioner accountancy firm I work with who have taken the ‘social loafing’ message (see below) whole-heartedly and applied the insights to their firm.

The firm is transformed as a result. The sole-practitioner is doing a 1- to 2-day week, taking 13 weeks' holiday and being rewarded handsomely!

Here’s the profound yet simple insight:

Way back in the 1880s, Max Ringleman, a French anthropologist, experimented on the effectiveness of individuals versus the effectiveness of teams.

He attached a rope to a dynamometer and got volunteers to pull their hardest, like a one-sided tug-of-war.

The average force for one man was 85.3 kilograms.

Ringleman wondered if, with 2 men, the force would be 170.6 kilograms, 255.9 kilograms with 3, and so on up to 8 men.

The result surprised him and everyone else! The total force went up with each new man. But the average per man went down! And Ringleman poetically called this phenomenon ‘social loafing’.

Ringleman’s social loafing showed how a team of 8 pulled less than 80% of the aggregated work of individuals pulling alone. A fifth of the effort went AWOL - more than 20% of effort disappeared!

GET THIS: This is like your team working a four-day week instead of five, without you realising it!

This means that more than 40 work days per year are lost for every person in your team (ignoring holidays, that’s 2 months’ work!).

It’s possible your team is already experiencing social loafing, doing only the equivalent of a four-day week, even though they turn up for five! It’s hard to spot it, of course (they may not even notice it themselves), but the result is profound…

As the saying goes: “’Tis easy to expand the work to fill the time”

Which means that it’s also possible, at no cost to you, to turn a four-day week into five.

What could you do with 40 more work days (per person) this next 12 months? And at no extra cost!

Worthy of your attention?

Worth taking some action?


What Max Ringleman actually proved was that when individual performance is masked by others, performance falls.

Each ‘player’ expects the others to do the work. ‘Slacking’ becomes invisible (and inevitable), because there’s less pressure to do well.

But teamwork is still a powerful force. It’s a powerful force in all successful sports teams. It can be a powerful force in your business team too.

SOLUTION: Prevent social loafing happening – build a culture of accountability in your firm.