- Subconsciously, what you think your team can achieve influences what they do achieve
- The more confident you are in your team’s abilities, the more they will rise to the occasion
- If you don’t believe in your team’s abilities, you’re setting them up for poor performance or even failure.
70% of communication is non-verbal. This means that without saying a word, your team members already know your expectations of their abilities, simply by how you behave towards them. This can adversely impact on their performance if they’re getting signals that you’re setting the bar too low, because you’re setting their limit before they’ve proven themselves. The opposite is also true of those you expect to excel.
It’s called the Pygmalion Effect and it states that what managers expect of their team members and how they treat them as a result of these expectations has a direct effect on their performance and career progress.
The big idea: Raise the bar, increase results
J. Sterling Livingston, author of Pygmalion in Management, explains that a unique characteristic of superior managers is the ability to create and communicate high expectations that team members want to live up to.
Less effective managers, on the other hand, either don’t believe in their teams, or fail to hold their team members to a higher standard, and overall productivity suffers as a result.
More often than not, team members deliver according to what they believe is expected of them.
“Expectations are dynamic, and if you can create an upward spiral where your people learn to believe in themselves and expect more from themselves, their performance and motivation will continue to increase over time as they take on more challenging tasks and responsibilities,” says Dave Kashen, Co-founder at Fearless Ventures and a leadership coach & culture consultant.
What’s in it for you: Create a team of star players
How you view your team will impact their performance. Believe in them, and they will believe in themselves, radically improving the quality and speed of their output.
Make it a priority to get to know your people, as this will help you understand how they view themselves and their potential. Since your team members’ effort and motivation are linked to their outlook of how capable they perceive themselves to be, it’s important to understand what those expectations are. It’s possible to unwittingly demoralise your team if the bar is set too high or too low.
Make it happen
3 steps to successfully implement the Pygmalion Effect
- Eliminate harmful expectations. Stereotypes prevent you as a manager to approach everyone with the premise that they can do almost anything with the correct leadership and enough support.
- Wipe the slate clean. Forget what happened yesterday. If the lesson was learnt, give your team the chance to change. Encourage them to understand their responsibilities and what is expected of them in terms of performance.
- Encourage working smarter, not harder. Aiming too low or setting small incremental gains in performance may be misconstrued as minimal effort for minimal results. Seemingly difficult goals compel employees to think differently.