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June 28, 2013
People Will Live Up (or Down) to Your Expectations
Employees want to work for an organization that they can feel proud of: an organization that has values and viewpoints compatible with their own; an organization that is oriented toward the long haul, working toward the prevention of ills, not just curing the symptoms; an organization that cares about morals and ethics, doing what is in the best interests of its customers; and an organization that cares about the impact it has on the environment. Employees want this because they recognize that such an organization will also care about them. The fact is, according to research, being a good corporate citizen is also good for your company.
Companies that search for the best and brightest people must also learn that their efforts shouldn't end when those people join the organization. To retain these employees, companies should invest heavily in them, both personally and professionally. Today, employees demand trust and respect. They want their input solicited, their strengths utilized, and their contributions valued. Furthermore, they want and should be given challenging new responsibilities that stretch their potential.
Managers who act in this way are far more likely to achieve superior performance from their employees. In fact, formal psychological research, as well as a large amount of casual empiricism by others, leave no doubt that the power of expectation alone can influence the behavior of others. This total phenomenon is called the Pygmalion effect. Studies have shown that merely expecting them to do well can raise the IQ scores of children, especially on verbal and information subjects. Furthermore, a study showed that worker performance increased markedly when the supervisor of these workers was told that his group showed a special potential for their particular job.
The opposite is also true: Employees who feel like helpless drones perform that way. Employees who believe they are essential to the success of the operation will always rise to the occasion by accepting greater responsibility, ultimately increasing their productivity. This kind of commitment is happening today, and those organizations that unleash it are winning. So, expect a lot from your people and they’ll never let you down.

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Frank is an award-winning author. He has written five books and over 300 articles. He was recently named one of “America's Top 100 Thought Leaders” and nominated as one of “America’s Most Influential Small Business Experts.” Frank has served on several boards and has consulted to some of the largest and most respected companies in the world. Additionally, FrankSonnenbergOnline was named among the “Best 21st Century Leadership Blogs.” Frank's latest book is "Follow Your Conscience," November 2014.
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