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WHY DRIVERS SPEED UP WHEN YOU PASS

Hand of man driving on a highway.

I do a lot of driving, typically in the neighborhood of 25,000 miles every year. Throughout these travels I meet thousands of cars on the road and I’ve been known to pass a few. Okay, quite a few. What I’ve consistently found however is that when I pass cars they invariably speed up, only to slow down once I’ve safely passed.

Have you ever experienced this?

The logical question is why other drives (who clearly aren’t using their cruise control) would speed up when someone was trying to pass them. Are they trying to upset the driver or win some sort of illusionary race?

 

I call this the “speed principle” simply defined, as those who follow will tend to do so at the same rate of speed as others closest to them.

Now let’s step away from the car analogy for a second. Do you think the “speed principle” can existing amongst employees in an organization? Your darn right it can! The question is how can we create this dynamic in a way that supports improved productivity and morale, rather than creating an accident or some alternate form of road rage.

Fortunately the answer isn’t that complex.

If you’ve followed my work or read my book then you know I’m a proponent of employee empowerment that is placing more decision-making power into the hands of those needing to make the decisions – the employees! When creating a community of empowered employees we strategically place those employees who demonstrate a combination of knowledge, collaboration and speed as team leaders, thereby creating a dynamic of the “speed principle.”

 

Simply put, by placing employees who demonstrate high levels of productivity and autonomy and who work closely with others into positions of team champions or leaders, we create a dynamic that naturally attracts employees to want to perform at a level and speed that the champion or leader does.

The “speed principle” at work and helping build a stronger more productive team – who knew?

So the next time you attempt to pass someone and they speed up, remember that they are only doing what comes naturally to them and that you’d be better served to capitalize on this phenomena by creating it within your organization and team, rather than on the road.

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