By: Ken Austin
Most managers unintentionally treat their subordinates in a way that leads to less than desirable performance. Many leaders have difficulty delegating responsibility. There seems to be the programmed feeling that the only way to get the job done right is to do it yourself.
While doing it yourself may appear to work, it tends to be a breeding ground for apathy, non-involvement, low motivation, and loss of commitment and enthusiasm. Sharing the work can be a great motivator, thereby strengthening the organization.
The way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them. If a manager's expectations are high, productivity is likely to be high. If his expectations are low, productivity is likely to be low. It is as though there is a law that causes an employee's performance to rise or fall to meet his manager's expectations.
1. What a manager expects of a subordinate and how he treats the subordinate will combine to profoundly influence the subordinate's performance and his career progress. What is critical in the communication of expectations is not what the boss says, but what he does.
Indifference and noncommittal treatment communicate low expectations and lead to inferior performance. Most managers are more effective in communicating low expectations to their subordinates than in communicating high expectations, even though most managers believe exactly the opposite.
2. Superior managers create high performance expectations that subordinates can fulfill. Subordinates will not strive for high productivity unless they consider the boss's high expectations realistic and achievable. If they are pushed to strive for unattainable goals, they eventually give up trying. Frustrated, they settle for results that are lower than they are capable of achieving.
The experience of a large printing company demonstrates this. The company discovered that production actually declined if production quotas were set too high, because the workers simply stopped trying to meet them. "Dangling the carrot just beyond the donkey's reach" is not a good motivational device.
3. Less effective managers fail to develop high expectations for their subordinates. Successful managers have greater confidence than ineffective managers in their ability to develop the talents of subordinates.
The successful manager's record of achievement and self-confidence grant credibility to his goals. Thus, subordinates accept his expectations as realistic and try hard to achieve them.