Mostexperts, along with many psychologists, agree that what we expect of our employees is the greatest influence on what we get from them. When you think of your people as winners and treat them that way, they are more apt to be winners--productive, competent self-starters who deliver the results you need and then some.
Are you getting what you expect from your people? Gain some insight with this self-assessment. For each statement, rate yourself from 1 ("almost never") to 5 ("almost always"):
- I sometimes do other people's work because it needs to be done just right.
- I believe that even employees who are typically late can still learn to be on time.
- I place definite limits on the freedom my staff has in deciding how to do their work.
- I have no problem work, because I'm confident my people can get the job done right.
- I think my least productive employees will never show significant improvement.
- I believe that an employee dealing with a personal crisis can still be effective and will return to peak performance in the future.
- I would tell my manager that I need to replace my incompetent people if I'm ever going to deliver the desired results.
- I involve my staff in planning our workgroup's goals and objectives and the strategies we use to achieve them.
- I'm liable to second-guess my people's approach to their assignments, and I have no problem overriding their decisions if necessary.
- I have faith in my ability to coach and correct my problem employees so they can be productive and cooperative members of the team.
Add up your responses for the even-numbered items, and then subtract the total of your responses on the odd-numbered items. Your final score will thus be between -20 and +20.
If your final score is 10 or higher, you've got the right idea--that employees are generally capable of meeting and exceeding your expectations, if you give them the right conditions, help and support. Now, perhaps that's because you're lucky to be working with an exceptionally solid team. But even so, that's good reinforcement for your own commitment to expect success and thus keep the team working at its peak.
If your score was from 0 to 10, your expectations of your employees could probably stand to be a little higher. Often, this can reflect the presence of one or two genuine problem employees in an otherwise good team. It's important to remember that while getting rid of bad apples may sometimes be the easiest, or even the best, way to improve overall performance, it's not the only way.
If your final score was less than 0, you really should take a hard look at your basic expectations of your people. If your attitude is that people don't want to work, have to be pushed, and can't be trusted to achieve desired results, then that's exactly what you're going to get. Changing your outlook may be a more effective way of improving your results than changing your people--and, of course, it's also a lot easier.