A new study from University College London reveals that it’s better to give advice during rather than before a task
Successful founders usually have two things in common: a great idea and an ability to encourage their skilful staff to realise their vision. But while conventional wisdom may suggest that business leaders should lay out their plans in advance, new research reveals that this may not be the way to yield the best results. In fact, entrepreneurs who want to foster creativity and boost their results are better off leaving employees to start their meetings and then intervene later with support and advice.
According to a study published in the latest edition of the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes journal, people make better decisions if they’re given pointers once they’ve already started discussing the issue rather than being given advice beforehand. The research was based on experiments with 124 three-person groups, which were tasked with making decisions about opening a fictitious new gourmet restaurant. The groups received advice either before or at varying points during their discussions.
The experiment also revealed that it didn’t matter when the advice was given as long as the team had started the meeting when somebody chipped in to offer guidance. The teams that were interrupted ended up having longer discussions and were better at sharing information.
Commenting on his research, Colin Fisher, assistant professor of organisations and innovation at University College London, said: “The findings go against the conventional wisdom that prevention is always better than cure. Teams that were interrupted had more productive discussions on a variety of measures, improving the quality of the decisions they made.”
So if this new research is anything to go by, managers may want to pop their heads into a meeting room once their team has made a start rather than being too prescriptive from the outset.