An article in the June ISHN talks about the power of expectations. In a column by John Kello, he talks about several studies that sound like valid research, but doesn’t cite the research specifically. But the results coincide with others that I have read. This research looked at workplace teams and how they perform. The workers are randomly assigned to a team. They both do a baseline task and have about equal levels of performance. Then one group is given a “positive spin.” They are told that the first task was just a warm up and they will probably do better the second time. The other group is given a “negative spin.” They are told that they may be tired, so their performance the second time may not be as good as the first time. Other than the spin, both groups are identical.
But guess what happens? The team that expects to do better the second time really does better. And the team that expects to do worse really does worse. So there is a huge margin between the performance of the positive group and the negative one.
This has some great insights for any team leader. Give your team positive expectations and they will perform better. A positive coaching style is much better than a negative coaching style. I have seen the same results with elementary school teachers before standardized tests, sports coaches, and random lab experiments. And so on and so on.
I would love to hear your own stories either supporting or contradicting this idea. Feel free to put them in the comments.