Managers get what they expect
Everybody in every land welcomes a thank you note or is inspired by hearing kind words from their boss or co-workers acknowledging a job well done.
From a high-powered CEO to an entry-level administration staff member, we all display our certificates, degrees or show off a special reminder that reveals a particular accomplishment.
I remember visiting a company president in Osaka a few years ago and as he walked me to his office door he stopped in front of a picture. It was a photograph of the executive committee and himself and he spoke for several minutes about his team and the context in which the picture was taken. He was filled with pride.
Here was a gentleman who had reached the pinnacle of his career, yet he was speaking in glowing terms of a small picture of recognition, which told everybody of the achievement he had received with his team.
Sometimes we can forget to tell our team members of a job well done, and this is an opportunity lost. A kind word can be a very powerful motivational tool.
I spoke to one BU head recently and asked about one his marketing team members, which we had placed. “Was he working out?”
He said the fellow was doing a fine job and it was a good hire. I quickly let the employee know that his boss had said some great things about him but he was surprised with this response. The younger man said he doubted his boss would have said such praise.
Clearly his boss was missing an opportunity to boost better performance through these simple words of encouragement.
Success leads to success and great mangers are able to leverage one success from their team into another. And the key is positive communication.
Teachers know this all too well. The best way to get the best out of students is to expect the best and teachers who observe this desirable behavior continue the compliments and watch the child bloom. The office environment is the same.
In Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers he describes how positive reinforcement can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
According to Gladwell, most professional ice hockey players are born in the first few months of the year. Since children play in age divisions, the January and February children are nearly one year older then the November and December children.
Hockey is a highly physical sport and this means the older and bigger kids often have more impact in a game and receive more praise. These youngsters are more likely to be in representative teams, and in turn, receive better coaching.
After a few years these young athletes are indeed better sports people.
In sociology, there is a phrase called the “Matthew Effect” or an accumulated advantage.
The term comes from a verse in the Bible’s Gospel of Matthew. “For unto everyone that has, shall be given, and he shall have abundance, but from him who has not, shall be taken away, even that which he has.”
People tend to live up to what is expected of them and Pharma industry executives should be more attuned to this fundamental concept.
Another philosophy is the Pygmalion/ placebo effect. J. Sterling Livingston described the Pygmalion effect in the 1988 Harvard Business Review. He stated that the way managers treated their subordinates was subtly influenced by what they expected of them.
It is one thing to hire great talent but quite another to build and develop these people into better team players.
It has been said that we can tell a person’s character by the company they keep. We may also be able to tell a manger from their past performances and the way they see them-selves.
I am often asked to conduct reference checks for candidates and almost always interview the person the candidate was under.
However, perhaps a more telling check would be to ask one of their team members about their leadership qualities.
Did the candidate take all the praise and recognition for themselves or did they give credit to where credit was due? Did they share the corporate victories and build up and create a winning team culture? How did he/she implement change and carry our strategy?
Through this observation our clients will see the core of the candidate’s character and will hear reports of team members who had interacted with the person day in day out.
It is often junior staff members – those who received praise, and those who did not – who can give a deeper insight into their management style.
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