Pygmalion in Management Essay

2219 WordsAug 1, 20149 Pages
Pygmalion in Management Want the most from your employees? Expect the best. — J. Sterling Livingston Most parents are aware that teachers’ expectations about individual children become self-fulfilling prophecies: If a teacher believes a child is slow, the child will come to believe that, too, and will indeed learn slowly. The lucky child who strikes a teacher as bright also picks up on that expectation and will rise to fulfill it. This finding has been confirmed so many times, and in such varied settings, that it’s no longer even debated. Self-fulfilling prophecies, it turns out, are just as prevalent in offices as they are in elementary school classrooms. If a manager is convinced that the people in her group are first-rate, they’ll reliably outperform a group whose manager believes the reverse—even if the innate talent of the two groups is similar. The powerful influence of one person’s expectations on another’s behavior has long been recognized by physicians and behavioral scientists. But heretofore the importance of managerial expectations for individual and group performance has not been widely understood. I have documented this phenomenon in a number of case studies prepared during the past decade for major industrial concerns. These cases and other evidence available from scientific research now reveal: • What managers expect of subordinates and the way they treat them largely determine their performance and career progress. • A unique characteristic of superior managers is the ability to create high performance expectations that subordinates fulfill. • Less effective managers fail to develop similar expectations, and as a consequence, the productivity of their subordinates suffers. • Subordinates, more often than not, appear to do what they believe they are expected to do. Impact on Productivity One of the most comprehensive

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