Four practices for great performances
I recently came across a very good article from 2004 on setting expectations which I want to share with you. In "Four Practices for Great Performances", Lauren Keller Johnson grabbed my attention with her opening paragraph: "It all sounds so sensible: Expect the best from your employees, and they'll give you their best - a phenomenon that J. Sterling Livingston, founder of the Sterling Institute, discussed in his seminal 1969 Harvard Business Review article 'Pygmalion in Management'. On the other hand, expect little from employees, and they'll give you meager performance in return - what INSEAD professors Jean-Francois Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux have named the 'set-up-to-fail-syndrome'."
Johnson argues that executing this principle on the ground requires more than simply stating the expectations and suggests four practices:
Involve employees in defining the expectations and make sure that they agree with and buy into the proposed expectations.
Focus on achievability; staff need to see their objectives as realistic and achievable.
Focus on measures that will help staff meet your expectations of them, and providing feedback, training, and encouragement.
Finally, tap into the individual's deepest motivations; get beyond what the staff member is assigned to do to what he or she wants to do.