Personnel Management with Pygmalion Effect - 5 Tips: The Power of Expectation


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We often underestimate the impact that others' expectations have on us and our performance. This also applies in the management of employees. However, with five simple tips, you can easily increase the performance of your team.

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Here writes for you: Gerd Mittmann is Vice President Benelux, DACH and Nordics at Fyber NV Profile

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The Pygmalion effect

Overview

If we were lucky, many of us in their careers had a superior who had a positive impact on our career. Thinking back, we probably remember useful feedback, training, or continuous support. What we do not, however, is the role that his expectations of us in relation to our work and our self-confidence have played.

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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.

An exciting experiment

Overview

Teachers were given the information that 20 percent of their students had an enormous development potential after an IQ test. In fact, the students were selected quite arbitrarily. In a later re-measurement of the intelligence rate, these children had a significantly higher IQ than their classmates, who apparently had no increased power potential.

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.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Overview

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.

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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

Overview

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".

5 Tips to use the pygmalion effect

Overview

Consider these five options and use the Pygmalion effect in your company:

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Special tip

Overview

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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  1. Monika

    Great, very helpful article on an under-noticed topic. Keep it up!

    • Simone Janson

      Thanks for the nice comment!

    • Simone Janson

      Thank you, that makes me happy!

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  3. Prof. Frank Widmayer

    I am not sure if the Pygmalion effect can be used as a "tool" and should: "A tool with a fool is still a fool!". I'm afraid that without the right inner attitude, the effect will be the opposite ("A fool with a tool is worse than without"). Who out of pure calculation and just because it is "worth" trying to just set high goals, could experience a blue miracle. This could quickly be perceived as a particularly perfidious kind of manipulation. The antennae of fellow humans for such "games" are very fine! So attention: It's very important to know the effect (that would be a start), but not so easy to make something out of it. For me, there are two things: 1. An inner attitude that perceives the other at eye level and not as a malleable mass, which can now be better "guided" by applying the Pygmalion effect. 2. The right management tools, but only with 1. together to achieve an effect in the desired direction.

    • Prof. Frank Widmayer

      It has to be called "A fool with a * tool" is still a fool! "

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Mr Professor Widmayer,
      thank you for the sensible supplements, that with the inner attitude you have expressed very much. However, I do not really see any contradiction with the statements made by Mr Mittmann in your two points. However, you are welcome to present your opinion in a separate guest contribution.
      Regards

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