“Pygmalion in the staff room: how the manager’s expectations affect the development of the staff’’ – Part A

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As teachers school owners are leaders, facilitators and motivators.

School owners know only too well that the more a teacher believes in students, the better those students will do.

In much the same manner, if managers think that a new teacher has great potential, the way of interacting with her is positive; their body language signifies approval and closeness, so the teacher who receives these positive vibes, feels that she is trusted and long for actualizing her potential thus fulfilling the prophecy made for her.

One can argue that for the teacher to actualise potential, she ought to have had some in the first place.

The manager’s behaviour would not have given her what she lacked. Then again, think of how many times we have attributed our failure to lack of support by our peers or colleagues or to the fact that those near and dear to us did not believe in us.

All these are connected with self fulfilling prophecies and they point out the incredibly important role expectations play in our professional life.

Communicating innermost thoughts 

Low expectations cannot be hidden. When managers do not trust their staff, they tend to micro-manage. By that we mean that they check every aspect of their work, and they eventually end up doing the work themselves.

Then they complain about the utterly useless staff they have employed and the money they waste on them, completely forgetting that good managers are not those who do everything perfectly by themselves but the ones who give chances for improvement to their employees.

Another upshot of the expectancy advantage is expectancy disadvantage. This means that when we do not believe in certain people, we tend not to expect anything from them. We perceive them as a burden and a waste of time because much like children they need to be told what to do and do not take initiatives and risks.

In these cases managers become abrupt and their behaviour borders on rudeness, which is extremely demotivating for the staff, as every teacher knows.

Moreover, expectancy disadvantage gives rise to double standards since the way some staff members are treated is different from the way managers behave to other members, based on his/her expectations.

Much like the teachers in the Rosenthal/ Jacobson experiment were carried away by the initial facts they were given, managers tend to be driven by the impression they have of their staff and manage them based on this.

The question is ‘do they really know their staff?’ Has the staff been given chances for improvement and development?


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