The bystander effect is a phenomenon that we discuss in the latter part of the APL seminar: A bystander observer is less likely to help someone in need when that observer perceives that there are numerous other people who are also aware of the need. The burden to take action is spread across a number of people, so the individual does not feel responsible to help.
However, one of the factors that moderates this effect is the presence of friends. Through studies of helping behavior, research has shown that a bystander is much more likely to help a stranger-in-need when the bystander is in the presence of friends than when the bystander is with only strangers. This could be due to a desire to avoid looking bad in front of friends. However, I think that it is due even more to an unwillingness to leave to friends the responsibilities that one would leave to strangers.
In APL, I describe the benefits of team cohesion. One of them is that team members tend to work harder because they believe that people whom they like are benefiting from their work. This explains the finding that friends’ presence moderates the bystander effect.
If your team is cohesive, a member is likely to step up and do more than is required. So, be sure that you use our APL strategies to nurture (regularly) your team’s cohesion; this should help members to do more than just stand-by.