Self-Fulfilling Prophecies for Managers

Have you ever had a manager that made you feel really excited and empowered? How about one that made you feel discouraged and down? Ever wonder what it was that made you feel that way?

Whether intentional or not, our daily interactions with people can be transformative. A single belief has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, capable of altering perceptions and the way that we connect with others. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that comes true as a result of our conscious or unconscious behaviors. This happens because of how our beliefs influence our actions. They can influence what we say, our tone and facial expressions, and many other non-verbal behaviors.

This is an important lesson for managers, whose expectations of staff can be a critical factor in the quality of their performance. For example, if a manager believes that one of his employees is lazy, he/she might treat that employee in a way that reinforces that belief; perhaps by overlooking that employee when delegating important tasks. These actions could lead the employee to feel under-valued, thus inducing a domino effect of decreased attendance and reduced quality of work output; reactions that confirm the manager’s original belief that he/she is lazy.

So, how can we capitalize on this belief system to benefit our teams? Here are some tips for creating positive prophecies that can help to keep those around you feeling valued and motivated:

Define your prophecy in clear and concise terms. Your prophecy shouldn’t need its own table of contents. Keep it simple. (Ex. “We will increase sales by 5% this quarter.”)

Keep your prophecy realistic. If you set high but reachable goals and communicate them to your staff, they can attain them. If goals are set too high, however, some people will give up before they ever get started. Conversely, if goals are too low, people will attain them, but it may not help you accomplish your job as a manager.

Create reminders for yourself. It can be easy to forget goals that we have set for ourselves when our attention is focused on the task-de-jour. Write your prophecy statement down in a place where you can see it every day.

Monitor and control. Set goals with each of your employees and monitor their progress. Remind them of the overall objective and how their role is vital to its realization.

Most importantly: Stay positive! A goal is only as good as the strength of the belief it is founded on. By communicating an attainable vision and confidence in your team, you are plotting a course of success for everyone. Turn your expectations into positive self-fulfilling prophecies and celebrate the achievements of your staff, as they will reflect well on you too!