The Pygmalion Effect: Who leads must expect!
We often underestimate the effect our expectations have on others. But we should know better: if we are lucky, many of us in our careers had a manager who had a positive impact on our careers.
When we think back, we probably remember useful feedback, training, or ongoing support. What we do not take into account, however, is the role that his expectations of us have played in our work and our self-confidence.
Use development potential of employees: An exciting experiment
The scientific experiment of American psychologists Robert Rosenthal and Leonore Jacobson in 1965 at a primary school is a famous example of this effect and shows how strongly our behavior is aligned with the expectations of others.
Teachers got the information that 20 percent of their students after an IQ test enormous development potential was found. In fact, the students were chosen completely arbitrarily.
When executives treat their employees differently, they get different results
In a later, re-measurement of the IQ, these children had a significantly higher IQ than their peers, where apparently no increased performance potential was detected.
But why? The teachers had treated them differently: they were more concerned about these students, were more patient and gave more positive feedback. The teachers' expectations of the students - apparently more gifted - had come true.
Use the power of expectation in employee leadership: self-fulfilling prophecy
In Company one meets the Pygmalion effect in the same way. Because just like the students in the experiment, the employees also adapt their behavior and their work performance to the expectations of their superiors. Team leaders or managers have a certain perception of the employees' abilities and communicate these constantly - both verbally and nonverbally.
Even if they are not aware of this, subtle signals such as tone of voice, eye contact, and body language can convey expectations. And subconsciously we are all trained to interpret these signals to understand what is expected of us and to adapt our behavior.
When managers believe in their employees, they encourage more
Thus, when managers believe in the potential of their team members, they behave accordingly, thereby promoting self-confidence and the efficiency of their employees.
At the same time, however, the opposite is the case. If an employee fails in a task, he is quickly assumed to be incompetent. In the future, less and less is expected of him and his self-confidence decreases as well as his performance - a vicious circle. With a negative self-fulfilling expectation one speaks then of the "golem effect".
Increase performance: 5 steps to use the pygmalion effect
Consider these five possibilities and use the Pygmalion effect in your company to increase team performance:
- Go unprejudiced into cooperation: Regardless of what you know about the past performance of your employees, it is important to start the collaboration without prejudice. So give everyone the opportunity to develop positively. Maintain a corporate culture in which excellence is promoted and, in a certain way, expected.
- Set high - but realistic - goals: Too low targets are not motivating, as are unrealistically high targets. Instead, you should set goals for your employees that lie outside their comfort zone but can be achieved with high probability.
- Offer your support: Once you have set challenging goals for your employees, it is important to offer support. Demonstrate commitment by identifying the role you can play in attaining your goals. If an employee fails to perform a task, support him by exploring the cause together. The way we react to weaknesses or mistakes is crucial. In Shutterstock, for example, we cultivate a culture in which mistakes are definitely desired to grow.
- Speak positively about your team: When talking to other employees about your team members, highlight their positive qualities and point out the strengths and potential of your team. The way we talk about others can positively influence the opinions and expectations of others.
- Give positive feedback: Given the fact that praise has a strong impact on our work and costs us nothing, it is surprising how rarely we praise our employees. When an employee does a good job, you should make sure that he is aware of it - to repeat this in the future and to improve further. For Shutterstock, for example, we have monthly feedback discussions with the employees, whether they reach their goals or if they need support.
Conclusion: Always expect the best from your team
So expect only the best of your team and offer them your full support - you will be rewarded with self-confident, satisfied employees and improved performance!
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