Series 9 of The BBC’s “The Apprentice” closed at the end of July, where Alan Sugar is looking for an entrepreneur to go into partnership with. Sugar has a notoriously hard-nosed leadership style, he expects 150 percent and accepts nothing less and he may have a point here. Researchers from Tel Aviv University report that employees are three times more likely to perform well when their manager has high expectations of them, in other words, if you expect more, you will get more.
The group analysed results from 25 years of research, conducted in a variety of situations from banks and schools to summer camps and army barracks. In one study, the researchers divided bank managers into two groups; one was told that their employees were exceptional, while the other was told nothing of their employees’ performance. They were then released back into their branches. The banks with the managers who were told to expect a lot from their employees were more profitable and successful. “A self-fulfilling prophecy goes into effect” says Professor Dov Eden, who conducted the experiments. Managers and leaders would be well advised to expect a lot and let people know that they expect a lot. If your boss believes you can excel, you are more likely to believe in your own capacity to succeed.
However, since you’ve boosted your employees’ performance, how do you know if they will work efficiently in a team? Well, despite the bitter backstabbing and “me,me,me” behaviour you may have seen on any of ‘The Apprentice’ series, a study conducted by Leicester University suggests that most of us will act in the best interests of the team, even at our own expense.
Leicester University researchers asked 82 participants to form groups and complete money-based tasks. They were then asked to choose between two outcomes – one would maximise money for the individual, while the other would result in team members sharing the cash.
Despite what we see on The Apprentice, most people went for the option that favoured the team, which shows that in some circumstances decision makers will co-operate in their collective interests.