Your expectations of people and their expectations of themselves are the key factors in how people well perform at work. Known as the Pygmalion effect and the Galatea effect, respectively, the power of expectations cannot be overestimated. These are the fundamental principles you can apply to performance expectations and potential performance improvement at work.
The Pygmalion effect
At the end of the 60s, in a primary school class is conducted an experiment. The most talented teachers are selected and they are told that will work with a group of specially selected students. Students are normal, but the teachers know that are problematic. Aware of the difficulties of their students, teachers behave accordingly and at the end of the first half, despite the efforts, the class is still behind with the program. Six months later, the same group of students was assigned to teachers also prepared, which is, however, said that the students are the best of the school. At the end of the semester the class is four months in advance of the program. What had really changed was simply the expectations towards boys and prejudices that all fed to them.
The Pygmalion effect was described by J. Sterling Livingston in 1988 Harvard Business Review: “The way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them,” Livingston said in his article, Pygmalion in Management.
Livingston went on to say about the supervisor, “If he is unskilled, he leaves scars on the careers of the young men (and women), cuts deeply into their self-esteem and distorts their image of themselves as human beings. But if he is skillful and has high expectations of his subordinates, their self-confidence will grow, their capabilities will develop and their productivity will be high. More often than he realizes, the manager is Pygmalion.”
If the supervisor actually believes that every employee has the ability to make a positive contribution at work, the message, either consciously or unconsciously, will positively affect employee performance.
When the supervisor holds positive expectations about people, he helps individuals improve their self-concept. People believe they can succeed and contribute and their performance rises to the level of their own expectations.
Take a look at the Galatea effect to learn more.