Expect More, Get More...
It's as simple as that...expect more and you are more likely to get more.
No I'm not talking about some new flunky self-help theory, but a simple and proven way to increase your teams, divisions and perhaps even entire organisations performance.
In business we often rack our brains trying to think of how we can get our people and teams to increase their effectiveness and perform at their very best.
Well help is at hand.
J. Sterling Livingston (*) noted that what managers expect of their subordinates strongly influences the subordinates' performance and progress. In turn, subordinates tend to do what they believe is expected of them. This psychological phenomenon is called 'The Pygmalion Effect' - briefly summarised:
The greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform.
or Expect More, Get More.
To harness the Pygmalion Effect you must have, and show confidence in those who work for you. This will arouse expectations of goal achievement among your team members. This in turn encourages the self-fulfilling prophecy that they will succeed, and as a consequence, will actually increase their likelihood of achieving their goals.
The Pygmalion Effect enables individuals and teams to excel in response to your message that they are capable of success and are expected to succeed. Though the opposite also applies, your communication can sabotage staff performance if you tell them, even subtly, the opposite.
So what's the evidence you may be asking.
Well two researchers, Eden and Shani (*) found that performance in a field experiment among leadership trainees in the army was improved by building their instructors positive expectations about the trainees. The instructors were led to believe that their trainees' had either a high, regular or unknown command potential. These instructor expectations directly correlated with the subsequent trainee objective achievement scores. And interestingly similar effects occurred for the trainees' attitudes - those in the 'higher potential' group reported greater satisfaction with the course and more motivation to go on to the next course.
Now clearly there are a whole raft of approaches you can use to harness the Pygmalion Effect in your business ranging from how you set challenging assignments for employees to the type of vocabulary you use, to the consistency of messages staff receive.
But remember the basic premise: Expect more and you are more likely to get more.
So it may be of value for you to ponder...
"How do you feel you can use the Pygmalion Effect in your business?"
(If you have children at school, you won't be surprised to hear that research shows that teacher expectations can influence their pupils achievement. Perhaps an interesting topic of conversation at your next teacher/parents evening.)
(*) ARTICLE REFERENCES:
Livingston, S, "Pygmalion in Management", Harvard Business Review, Vol 47
Eden, D and Shani, A. B, "Pygmalion goes to Boot Camp: Expectancy, Leadership, and Trainee Performance", Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 76
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