In his blog entry, Just Pay Attention To Me, Steve Roesler gives a brief history of the Hawthorne Effect and summarizes it as follows:
"When you pay attention to people, tell them what you are doing, and ask their opinion about things, the response is a boost in morale and productivity."
It's a fairly commonsense principle, so even if a manager hasn't been explicitly exposed to the Hawthorne Effect in the course of their management development, they're generally at least aware of the idea. However, this knowledge all too often doesn't get put into practice. Because too many managers only pay attention to their top performers.
The problem, of course, is that you can't build an organization only on top performers. The backbone of any organization is always the good, steady, medium performer, the one who is always there, rain, hail or shine.
Paying attention to only your top people is entirely reactive, and this 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately' approach breeds discontent among your middle performers.
Managers must be proactive and pay attention to all of their people, from day 1. Yes, the top performers will still bubble up, but they succeed in spite of management, not because of it. It's those middle performers – the backbone of your organization – that need to feel appreciated, and who will drive your business forward.
Further, it's often said that your staff will treat customers as you treat your staff; it's a trickle-down effect. So by paying attention to all employees, so will your employees pay attention to all customers.
To the single employee, Roesler's title gets it right: "Just pay attention to me." But for managers, the mantra must be "Just pay attention to everyone."