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We Develop Human Capital "Not to unlearn what you have learned is the most necessary kind of learning" said Antisthenes. Our passion at 'The Enablers' is to develop people. Developing human resources is more important to 'The Enablers' than getting clients. We want to make sure that people take way something valuable and useful for their lives. In our workshops, we create an environment which is conducive to learning. We encourage participants to: • Un-learn what is obsolete. • Learn what is contemporary to become futuristic. • Un-learn and re-learn, un-learn and re-learn again! When people follow these three steps, the miracle process begins - the process of excelling. With this mission, 'The Enablers' was established in January 2004 by Prof. Vivek Hattangadi. ‘The Enablers’ unlock the concealed potential in people and leverage their latent talent so they emerge as winners. In our learning sessions, the participants learn the way an excellent surgeon learns - practicing what has been learned through purposeful activities rather than merely from instructions. Our sessions are pragmatic; learning’s are doable. We have a large clientele even outside India.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Pygmalion-Galatea Effect in Management

Pygmalion in Management

In George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle explains: “You see, really and truly, apart from the things any one can pick up, [the dressing and the proper way of speaking and so on]; the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves but how she is treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Prof. Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl and always will; but I know that I can be a lady to you (i.e. to Col. Pickering) because you always treat me as a lady and always will.”

The effect was originally studied in context of teachers’ expectations of their students: Students who are expected to perform well usually do so. Those students of whom teachers have lower expectations will generally perform less well. However, this approach has clear application in the corporate world. This effect is named after George Bernard Shaw’s play "Pygmalion", which is the basis of the film and stage musical “My Fair Lady”.

Shaw summarizes the effect by his character Professor Higgins’ observation that:

"...The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated."

The Pygmalion Effect helps you think about how your expectations of other people can influence or motivate their performance.

It argues that by setting and communicating high performance expectations, you can motivate better performance from the people you lead and manage.

Some managers always treat their subordinates in a manner that leads to superior performance.

But most managers, like Prof. Higgins, unintentionally treat their subordinates in a way that leads to lower performance than they are capable of achieving.

The way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect out of them. If manager’s expectations are high, productivity is likely to be excellent. If their expectations are low, productivity is likely to be poor.

It is as though there was a law that caused subordinates performance to rise or fall to meet the manager’s expectations!

Scientific researches now reveal:

-What managers expect of their 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.

-Self-fulfilling prophecies:

The influence of one person’s expectations on another person’s behavior is not a business discovery. In the early part of the last century, psychologist Albert Moll concluded from his clinical experiences that subjects behaved as they believed that were expected to. The phenomenon, he observed, in which the “prophecy causes its own fulfillment”, has become a subject of considerable scientific interest.

The medical profession has long recognized that physicians or psychiatrists expectations can have a formidable influence on a patient’s physical or mental health. What takes place in the minds of the patients and the healers, particularly when they have congruent expectations may determine the outcome. For instance, the havoc of a doctor’s pessimistic prognosis has been observed again and again. It is also well known that the efficacy of a new drug or a new treatment can be greatly influenced by the physicians expectations – a result referred to as the placebo effect.

Pattern of failure:

When medical representatives are treated by their district managers as ‘super-people’, they try to live up to that image. And do what they know ‘super medical representatives’ are supposed to do.

But when the medical representatives are treated by their managers as not having “any chance” of success, this negative expectation also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Unsuccessful medical representatives have great difficulty in maintaining their self-image and self-esteem. In response to low managerial expectations, they typically attempt to prevent additional damage to their egos by avoiding situations that might lead to greater failure. They either reduce the number of sales calls [or call on ‘easy’ doctors only] or avoid trying to ‘ask for a prescription’ that might result in further painful rejection or both. Low expectations and damaged egos lead them to behave in a manner that increases the probability of failure – thereby fulfilling their manager’s expectations.

Power of expectations

Managers cannot avoid the depressing cycle of events that flow from low expectations merely by hiding their feelings from the subordinates. If managers believe that their subordinates will perform poorly, it is virtually impossible for them to mask their expectations because the message is usually conveyed unintentionally, without conscious action on their part.

Indeed managers communicate the most when they believe they communicate the least. For instance, when they say nothing – become cold and uncommunicative – it is usually a sign that they are displeased by a subordinate or believe that he or she is hopeless. The silent treatment communicates negative feelings even more effectively, at times, than a tongue-lashing does.

What seems to be critical in the communication of expectations is not what the boss says so much as the way he or she behaves. Indifferent and noncommittal treatment, more often than not, is the kind of treatment that communicates low expectations and leads to poor performance.

Common illusions

Managers are more effective in communicating low expectations to their subordinates than in communicating high expectations to them, even though most mangers believe exactly the opposite.

Positive feelings, on the other hand do not come through clearly enough.

Clearly the way managers treat subordinates, not the way they organize them, is the key to high expectations and high productivity.

Impossible Dreams

Management expectations must pass the test of reality before it can be translated into performance. Subordinates will not be motivated to reach high levels of productivity unless they consider the boss’s high expectations realistic and achievable. If they are encouraged to strive for unattainable goals, they eventually give up trying and settle for results that are lower than that hey are capable of achieving.

Scientific research by David McClelland of Harvard University and of John Atkinson of the University of Michigan, has demonstrated that the relationship of motivation to expectancy varies in the form of a bell shape curve. The degree of motivation and effort rises until the expectancy of success reaches 50%, and then begins to fall even though the expectancy of success continues to increase. No motivation or response is aroused when the goal is perceived as being virtually certain or virtually impossible to attain.

Failure of subordinates to meet the unrealistically high expectations of their managers leads to high rates of attrition – either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Secret of superiority

Something that takes place in the minds of a superior manager that does not take place in the minds of a less effective manager. While superior managers are consistently able to create high performance expectations that their subordinates fulfill, weaker managers are not successful in obtaining a similar response. What accounts for the difference?

The superior managers have greater confidence than other managers in their own ability to develop the talents of their subordinates. Contrary to what might be assumed, the high expectations of superior managers are based primarily on what they think about themselves – about their own ability to select, train and motivate their subordinates, what they expect of them, and how they treat them.

In other words, the superior manager’s record of success and their confidence in their ability give their high expectations credibility. As a consequence their subordinates accept these expectations as realistic and try hard to achieve them.

Most Influential Boss

A new medical representative’s first district manager is likely to be the most influential in that young medical representative’s career. If managers are unable or unwilling to develop the skills of the young employees to perform effectively, the latter will set lower personal standards than they capable of achieving, their self images will be impaired, and they will develop negative attitude towards their jobs, employers and in all probability – their own careers in business. Since the chances of building successful careers with these first employers will decline rapidly, the employees will leave if they have high aspirations in the hope of finding better opportunities. If, on the other hand, early managers help employees achieve maximum potential, they will build foundations for successful careers.

Astute selection

While success in business sometimes appears to depend on luck, more than luck is involved when a young person is selected by a superior manager. Successful managers do not pick their subordinates at random or the toss of a coin. They are careful to select only those who they ‘know’ will succeed.

The pharmaceutical industry has not developed effective first-line managers fast enough to meet its needs. As a result, many companies are under-developing their most valuable source – talented young men and women. They are incurring heavy attrition costs and contributing to negative attitudes young people often have about careers in business.

For top executives in the industry who are concerned with the productivity of their organizations and the careers of young employees, the challenge is clear: to speed the development of mangers who will treat their subordinates in ways that will lead to high performance and career satisfaction. Managers not only shape the expectations and productivity of their subordinates but also influence their attitudes towards their jobs and themselves. If managers are unskilled they leave scars on the careers of young people, cut deeply into their self-esteem, and distort their image of themselves as human beings. But if they are skillful and have high expectations, subordinates self confidence will grow, their capabilities will develop, and their productivity will be high.

More often than one realizes, the Manager is Pygmalion.

(Original Source: Harvard Business Review)


As a manager, your aim is to get the best performance from the people who work from you. If you have high expectations of a member of your team, this can reinforce your efforts. On the other hand, if you convey lower expectations of an individual, this can undermine your efforts to improve his or her performance. Without knowing it, you may show low expectations by delegating less challenging and interesting work. You may pay less attention to team members' performance and give them less support and praise. In return, the team member may feel undervalued and untrusted, and his or her confidence may be undermined. And so your lower expectations, albeit unconsciously communicated, can demotivate the team member, creating the exact opposite effect of the performance improvement that you want. More than this, the effect of low expectations can create a vicious circle – you expect less, you get less, you lower your expectations and further demotivate, and so on.

The good news is that the opposite is also true. By setting and communicating higher expectations, you can motivate team members and create a virtuous circle leading to continuously improving performance.

Using the Theory

1 To use this new technique to shape the way you express your expectations, follow the steps below

2. Make a list of all of the members of your team, and then write down your expectations of the job-related performance of each team member on the next task you allocate to him or her.

Next, take an objective look at the outcomes of the last three tasks you delegated to each team member. Were these outcomes positive or negative? Again, write down this objective measure of outcomes against each performer.

Plot each team member on the grid in figure 1 (above). Don’t worry too much about scale: Just ask yourself which of the four quadrants (boxes) reflects your expectation of the team member and his or her objective performance. The quadrants are:

“High Performers, As Expected”:These people meet your expectations and continuously improve their performance. This can be a “virtuous circle”, where high performance is subtly motivated by your high expectations.“Low Performers, As Expected”: Here, you have lower expectations of people, and they tend to perform and improve less well than others. This can be a “vicious circle”, and there's a risk that these people are subtly demotivated by your lower expectations of them.
“Self-Motivated Performers”: Despite your lower expectations of this group, these team members perform well. Perhaps their last three tasks were unusually successful, or perhaps you need to adjust your expectations.“Under-Performers”:Despite your higher expectations, this group are failing to improve their perform

Now consider and write down all the ways in which you may be consciously and unconsciously motivating or demotivating the members of your team. This will include factors such as:
-The work you delegate
-The responsibility and trust you give
-Praise and recognition
-Support and guidance given
-Opportunities for development given
-Fair treatment in relation to other team members.

Tip 1: A useful starting point for thinking about what motivates and demotivates others is to think about what motivates you. But people differ in their needs – if possible, check with team members themselves

For the factors you identify, what are the (obvious or subtle) differences in the way you treat people in your “High Performers, As Expected” category compared to your “Low Performers, As Expected” category? What can you learn from how you treat your “High Performers, As Expected” that could help you better motivate others?

Tip2: However “fair” we try to be in treating our team members, differences evolve for all manner of reason. Be honest with yourself about these, and it will help you identify and avoid some unintentional signals that can demotivate.

Now you have analyzed the impact of your expectations, you can use what you have learned to make subtle changes to how you treat and motivate people and so improve performance. Here’s how to consider each category: “Low Performer as Expected” By expecting more of this group, you can help motivate better performance in many areas. Using the information from steps 4 and 5, write down how you can signal and express higher expectations.“Self-Motivated Performers”These people are potentially some of your biggest stars. Write down how you can more clearly signal positive expectations and recognize their achievements, and so motivate even better performance.“Under-Performers” Why do these people under-perform? Are you expecting too much from them, or is something stopping them perform to their potential? Talk to these people and be prepared to expect less or provide more support and guidance.“High Performance as Expected” Don’t forget the people in this category! Keep up your “virtuous circle” expectations and motivation to help this group keep on performing

Key points:
“Pygmalion Motivation” helps you apply the principles of the Pygmalion Effect to alter the way you express your expectations of team members, thereby motivating them to improve their performance.

You can summarize the Pygmalion effect, often known ‘as the power of expectations’, by considering:

-Every manager has expectations of the people who report to him.
-Managers 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.
-However, positive supervision is one of the key factors that keep good employees on the job.

These are ways in which you can encourage positive, powerful self-expectations in employees.

-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.

The Galatea Effect

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 efficiency, has harnessed a powerful performance improvement tool. This transformation from ‘I’m not OK to I’m Ok’ becomes a "self-fulfilling prophecy."

Applied as the ‘Galatea Effect’, these words mean that the individual's opinion about his ability and his self-expectations about his performance largely determine his performance.

If an employee thinks he can succeed, he will succeed. Consequently, any actions the manager can take that increase the employee's feelings of positive self-worth, will help the employee's performance improve.

These are ways in which you can encourage positive, powerful self-expectations in employees. Provide opportunities for the employee to experience increasingly challenging assignments.

Make sure he 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. Harness the power of the employee's self-expectations to ensure powerful, productive, improving, successful work performance.

If management sincerely desires to implement a program involving participative management, managers should introduce programs that genuinely reflect their intention to treat employees as though they are truly appreciated, as well as experts at their jobs. In effect, employee involvement usually allows employees to utilize his or her expertise. When management does this, a "Pygmalion Effect" may result, which will hopefully lead to a "Galatea Effect."

A "Pygmalion effect" occurs when people live up to the high expectations that others have of them.

A "Galatea Effect" occurs when a person becomes self-motivated.

In essence, if management assumes that people want to contribute to the organization and tries to inspire them by seeking techniques to tap into that expertise or wealth of knowledge, the end results can be improved productivity, better decision-making, and high quality of work life.

According to the Fairness, Equity and Dignity (EE.I.) principle, as coined by Dr. Kent Curtis, a professor and a scholar, participative management requires managers to treat their employees fairly, equitably, and with dignity. The primary goal of participative management is to help employees and management operate in the most effective manner. It is imperative that employees become familiar with profits and losses, the cost of products and services, quality, and customer satisfaction. Thus, perhaps it is necessary to require extensive cross-training and shared authority for everyone involved. By using such an approach, the employee may no longer be confined to a narrowly defined job, which could ultimately relieve boredom and fatigue.

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