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If your team is constantly missing deadlines or delivering shoddy work in order to meet them, here’s a tip: scrap the due date. Syracuse University researchers found deadlines can cause employees to put their assignments off until the last minute, ultimately leading to rushed work of subpar quality.

The researchers specifically studied deadlines for patent applications. They found applications piled up around the deadline at the end of the month, and those submitted closer to the date were less rigorous.

Setting an ambitious time target, then, might not actually be a good way to enforce productivity. “There are potential tradeoffs between speed and performance,” writes lead author Natarajan Balasubramanian, an associate professor at Syrcause’s Whitman School of Management.

So the next time you’re handing out assignments, skip the due date.


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