Is shaming a worker the best way to ; boost productivity?

Concerned about declining productivity in the maintenance department, Foreman Vincent Aurellio decided to crack down on offenders.
By Raymond Dreyfack June 1, 1998

Concerned about declining productivity in the maintenance department, Foreman Vincent Aurellio decided to crack down on offenders.

Reviewing the work sheets, he noted the disparity between the performance of well-rated, marginal, and submarginal employees. Aurellio’s assistant, Bill Holland, suggested that “it might give some of those deadbeats a push in the right direction if their poor performance was publicized.” That sounded to Aurellio like an idea whose time had come.

Huddling with Holland, he pinpointed well-rated and poorly-rated employees, summarized their performance records over the past 6 mo, and posted the findings on the plant bulletin board.

“If this doesn’t shame some of these guys into shaping up, nothing will,” Aurellio said.

The effectiveness of the strategy didn’t get much of a chance to be tested. Within minutes of the posting, Union Steward Andy Gentoso appeared at the foreman’s desk to protest.

“You’ve got to remove that posting,” he demanded. “It violates employees’ privacy.”

“Privacy-schmivacy,” Aurellio retorted. “It’s management’s responsibility to improve productivity. If this succeeds in doing it, we’re within our rights.”

“We’ll see about that,” Gentoso said, stalking off.

Question : Can Aurellio be required to remove the posting?

Berger’s verdict: “Take it down,” Plant Engineer Milt Berger instructed after being filled in on the dispute. “The posting is a violation of privacy. What’s more, it violates the labor agreement which specifies procedures to follow where performance is below standard and unacceptable. Unfortunately, your idea, while imaginative, isn’t one of them.”