Your expectations of people and their expectations of themselves are the key factors in how well people perform at work. The Pygmalion Effect and the Galatea Effect are the fundamental principles you can apply to performance expectations and potential performance improvement at work.
- Every supervisor has expectations of the people who report to him.
- Supervisors communicate these expectations consciously or unconsciously.
- People pick up on, or consciously or unconsciously read, these expectations from their supervisor.
- People perform in ways that are consistent with the expectations they have picked up on from the supervisor.
The Pygmalion effect was described by J. Sterling Livingston in the September/October, 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.” When the supervisor holds positive expectations about people, she helps individuals improve their self-concept and thus, self-esteem. People believe they can succeed and contribute and their performance rises to the level of their own expectations.
Even more powerful than the Pygmalion Effect, the Galatea Effect is a compelling factor in employee performance. The manager who can assist employees to believe in themselves and in their efficacy, has harnessed a powerful performance improvement tool.
- Provide opportunities for the employee to experience increasingly challenging assignments. Make sure she succeeds at each level before moving forward.
- Enable the employee to participate in potentially successful projects that bring continuous improvement to the workplace.
- Provide one-to-one coaching with the employee. This coaching should emphasize improving what the employee does well rather than focusing on the employee’s weaknesses.
- Provide developmental opportunities that reflect what the employee is interested in learning.
- Assign a successful senior employee to play a developmental mentoring role with the employee.
- Hold frequent, positive verbal interactions with the employee and communicate consistently your firm belief in the employee’s ability to perform the job. Keep feedback positive and developmental where possible.
- Make sure the employee is receiving consistent messages from other supervisory personnel. How you speak to others about employees powerfully molds their opinions.
- Project your sincere commitment to the employee’s success and ongoing development.
From: Susan Heathfield, about.com