One of the best leadership lessons I learned from a former colleague, is to see potential in your direct reports.
When my colleague joined the company, he started working with a bunch of people whose performance was less than stellar in my not so humble opinion.
Quite astonishingly though, from the first day my colleague would demonstrate trust in his team’s capabilities. In meetings, he would take every opportunity to delegate high profile tasks to his team members, clearly convinced that they will handle these tasks well. I, however, watched doubtfully, wondering if this was such a good idea.
Turned out it was. In no time the performance of his team increased significantly and visibly. I was impressed. But I should not have been surprised because I basically knew of this 1968 San Francisco school experiment.*
So, if your employees' performance depends largely on how you see and treat them, isn’t then believing that a majority of your employees are not engaged a very dangerous thing?
How about you start treating everyone you work with as if they were highly engaged and full of potential from now on? Do this for at least a month, and let us know what happens.
To your success!
*quoted from the article below: "We direct your attention to a classic experiment dating back to 1968 that was conducted in the San Francisco School District, in which a group of elementary school teachers were informed that one particular class was full of better disciplined and smarter students than all the others. In reality, the students had been randomly placed in that class. And yet, at the end of the year, their scores on IQ tests far exceeded those of students with similar abilities, and were far beyond the scores of those who were not part of the experiment. Since then, 46 follow-on studies have confirmed the impact of a teacher’s preconceptions on student performance."
So what? What difference does it make if managers believe that 70% of the workforce is not engaged in their work? Some might argue that this should motivate managers to put forth Herculean efforts to implement policies and practices that would increase employee engagement. And how bad would that be? [...] The drum-beat message to American managers that 70% of their workforce is unengaged is not only inaccurate, in our opinion, but it is harmful in the same way. In many cases (if not most) it will create unintended and negative prejudices in the way managers perceive and then behave toward their subordinates. This, in turn, will become a destructive self-fulfilling prophecy.