Expectations Impact PerformanceMy last blog “How Leaders Cause Their Direct Reports to Sink or Soar” gave examples and research on the power of expectations. The impact of teachers, coaches, parents, or manager’s expectations of the people they were leading on their performance has been well documented. “Leaders Have Great Expectations” reports on the pioneering work of Robert Rosenthal at Harvard University showing the impact of student’s expectations of “bright” or “dull” (they were all the same) rats navigating a maze determined their performance.

In his latest Forbes column, “Your Boss’ Opinion Matters More Than You Think“, Joe Folkman, provides further research showing that “direct reports who worked for negative rating managers had engagement scores at the 47th percentile. Those reporting to positive rating managers had engagement scores at the 60th percentile. This difference is statistically significant.”

What we expect, that we find.
– Aristotle

There are persons who always find a hair in their plate of soup for the simple reason that, when they sit down before it, they shake their heads until one falls in.
– Christian Friedrich Hebbel, German poet and dramatist

Be careful how you interpret the world: it is like that.
– Erich Heller, British Essayist

“You can’t raise performance with lowered expectations.”

Research has demonstrated that students whose teachers were told that they were on the verge of an intellectual growth spurt not only were more likely than their peers to be evaluated more favorably by their teachers but also exhibited actual increases in IQ compared with students assigned to a control group. Many investigations of self-fulfilling prophecies have demonstrated similar effects on the attitudes and behavior of both partners in a given interaction.
– Ellen J. Langer, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility

There is no rule more invariable than that we are paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspected.
– Henry David Thoreau, American author and poet

If we expect people to be untrustworthy, we will closely monitor and control them and by doing so will signal that they can’ be trusted — an expectation that they will most likely confirm for us.
– Jeffrey Pfeffer, “Six Dangerous Myths About Pay,” Harvard Business Review

Some people, without knowing it, carry with them a magnifying glass, with which they see, when they wish, other people’s imperfections
– John Wanamaker, American politician, post master general, and marketing pioneer