Goodhart's Law

2020-10-24 · 197 words

Frequently, we are asked to complete surveys to help the company gauge the level of employee engagement. We are asked to rate and provide comment on a number of statements about the company, the people we work for, the culture, environment and so on. This is a great thing to do and I look forward to completing it whenever it is available.

What doesn’t thrill me so much is the encouragement we receive to complete the survey. There are sincere reasons for this, and I don’t want to underestimate the difficulty involved with getting your employees to trust you. Ironically though, that trust is eroded pretty quickly if you push your employees to participate in order for your team to achieve a high participation rate. What comes next, that all scores should be a minimum of 6 or higher?

We have only witnessed a small amount of this so far, and it hasn’t affected my desire to participate. Still, it does remind me of Goodhart’s Law. If you seek to measure the engagement of the company’s employees but manipulate the participation rate, will you not also attempt to convince yourself and others that you have good engagement?