Employee Leadership - Improving Team Performance: Pygmalion Effect in 5 Steps


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Managers often underestimate the impact that their expectations have on the motivation of the team - especially when it comes to leadership. You can increase the performance of your team in 5 steps.

Karrieremanagement_Pygmalion effect

Here writes for you:

 

Gerd Mittmann Gerd Mittmann_ShutterstockGerd Mittmann is Vice President Benelux, DACH and Nordics at Fyber NV

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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.

Using the 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.

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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.

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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, the opposite is the case. If an employee fails in a task, they are quickly assumed to be incapable. In the future, less and less is expected of him and his confidence drops just like his performance - a vicious cycle. In the case of a negative self-fulfilling expectation, one speaks 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:

  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 you talk to other employees about your team members, emphasize their positive characteristics 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.

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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  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!

  2. Thinking outside the box XXXV / 15 - HR links of the week: The end of personnel development, learning in old age and more efficient teams | edutrainment company GmbH

    [...] "Personnel management with the Pygmalion effect - 5 tips: The power of expectation" - We often underestimate the effect that the expectations of others have on us and our [...]

  3. Prof. Frank Widmayer

    I am not so sure whether the Pygmalion effect can and should be used as a “tool”: “A tool with a fool is still a fool!”. I fear that the effect will have the opposite effect without the appropriate inner attitude (“A fool with a tool is worse than without”). Anyone who simply tries to set high goals out of pure calculation and only because it is “worth it” could experience a blue miracle. This could quickly be perceived as a particularly perfidious type of manipulation. The antennae of fellow human beings for such “games” are very fine! So be careful: It is very important to know the effect (that would be a start), but not so easy to make something out of it. For me, two things are involved: 1. An inner attitude that perceives the other at eye level and not as a malleable mass that can now be “guided” even better by using the Pygmalion effect. 2. The right leadership tools, which, however, only 1. work 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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