The Procustean effect and the Dunning Kruger effect

Try to identify the people on your team, some may suffer one of the two psychological effects that we are talking about today. If you take the time to train and help them, you will be able to redirect them and improve their level of competence, and with this in the long run you will improve the results of your team.

In this post I want to explain 2 very detrimental effects for teamwork and that, unfortunately, are much more common than you imagine.

The Procrustean effect is a psychological pathology that makes the person who suffers it not tolerate the success of others, detests people who excel in some aspect, and also usually leads to the rejection of any idea that people who excel have. The name Procrustes comes from Greek mythology. Procrustes had an inn in the hills that was frequented by passing travelers. Procrustes invited each guest to lie down on an iron bed. When the traveler slept, he would tie him up and if the traveler was tall and protruded from the bed, he would cut off his feet, hands or head. If the traveler was short, he would cut it into pieces to stretch it to match the length of the bed.

The Procrustean effect, as you have surely seen in your professional career, is more frequent than would be desirable. It usually generates big problems within the team: bad work environment, reduced performance, high staff turnover… It is a large problem and one that is not usually easy to solve. The most important thing is to detect it in the recruiting process and in this way prevent the person in question from joining the company. As it is not always possible to detect it in time, if you already have the person with Procrustean syndrome in the company, you must make an iron mark. Do not tolerate such pernicious actions. Don’t promote or make any improvements to this person until you have redirected the way he/she works. Talk to the person and help him eliminate Procrustean syndrome from the way he works. Some people manage to overcome it and become great professionals. On the other hand, other people do not manage to change their attitude; In this case, I recommend that you fire the person before it is too late, and the damage caused is greater.

The other effect I wanted to explain is Dunning Kruger effect. It is a cognitive bias that makes incompetent people overestimate their abilities while more competent people underestimate their abilities. It owes its name to the social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, winners of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Psychology. This effect can be summarized simply: people who know the least are the ones who think they know the most. You sure know what I mean. And I would dare to say that you have surely had the misfortune of having several people like them around you.

Studies by the psychologists Dunning and Kruger showed that people who were incompetent in a certain area of ​​knowledge were unable to detect and recognize their incompetence and did not tend to recognize the competence of other people. Its features are easy to identify. In this sense, I recommend that you identify a close person who behaves in this way as soon as possible. The important thing about this effect is that once detected, this effect is diluted as the person increases their level of competence. As their competence improves, the person tends to be more aware of their limitations and tends to more value the skills of other people. Therefore, try to identify the people on your team who suffer from this effect. Then train them and help them improve their level of competence.

Knowing these 2 effects well and knowing how to manage the people who suffer from them is key so that you can develop good leadership and achieve good results with your team. And remember a quote by Andrew Carnegie “The secret of my success was surrounding myself with people better than me

Xavi Roca

I am Talentist, I help organizations, managers and professionals to achieve high performance through enhancing their leadership and personal brand. I am passionate about leadership, high performance team management and Personal Branding, and I have dedicated my professional career to helping companies and professionals develop and enhance their talents and strengths to achieve their maximum development and performance.

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