The Pygmalion effect is a psychological phenomenon wherein high expectations lead to improved performance in a given area.
Robert Rosenthal defined the Pygmalion effect as “the phenomenon whereby one person’s expectation for another person’s behavior comes to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy” (American Psychologist, Nov. 2003, p. 839).
In the domain of management, some managers always treat their subordinates in a way that leads to superior performance. But most, unintentionally treat their subordinates in a way that leads to lower performance than they are capable of achieving. The way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them. If the manager’s expectations are high, productivity is likely to be excellent.
If their expectations are low, productivity is likely to be poor. It is as though there was a law that caused subordinates’ performance to rise or fall to meet managers’ expectations.