What is The Pygmalion Effect and is it appropriate in the workplace?
According to The Pygmalion Effect (otherwise known as the Rosenthal effect), higher expectations of employees may result in better performance and output.
But does this Effect apply to the workplace?
In 1961, Alfred Oberlander, a manager at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, carried out an investigation. With the help of his top assistant managers, he set sizeable goals for six of his best agents. The 'Super-Staff' was the name given to this team. In actuality, this group did live up to its moniker by outperforming the benchmark.
The Pygmalion Effect can influence an employee's behavior, which in turn affects their productivity. When a leader thinks an employee is a great performer, they are likely to regard and treat them differently, as was shown by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company experiment. Because they think the person is capable of taking on such jobs, they might provide them with greater opportunities and responsibility. They might also be more nurturing and provide the person with greater feedback.
When a subordinate is aware of the expectations their supervisor has for them, they are more likely to act in a way that satisfies or even exceeds those expectations. As a result, the employee meets the manager's expectations, which perpetuates the manager's perception of the employee as a high performer.
So, are there drawbacks to implementing The Pygmalion Effect with your staff?
The short answer is, Yes. The Pygmalion Effect can influence some employee behaviors in a favorable way, but it can also unintentionally affect other employees. For instance, team members may be neglected by bosses who provide special attention to only a few employees. Because of this, these leaders can be impeding the ability of these other workers to develop and perform at a higher level.
Additionally, some workers can consider the leaders' behavior to be biased and unjust. Other employees become discouraged, which causes subpar performance. As a result, the leader's perception of these workers as being less motivated and productive than their favored high achievers is reinforced.
In fact, Oberlander's investigation revealed that lower performers' performance actually dipped during the experiment.
Please watch the attached video for more information about The Pygmalion Effect and leave me a comment about its appropriateness as a leadership or management tool in the workplace.
Author & Motivational Speaker
Terry is a sought after speaker who believes in the power of a story to motivate, inspire, and help others lead their uncommon and extraordinary lives. By combining his eleven-year cancer journey with his diverse business, athletic coaching, and hostage negotiating expertise, he delivers compelling yet relatable presentations for conferences, on-line events, panels, meetings, and seminars.