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Ever notice the labels you give employees? Super star? Slow?  Difficult Person? You might be surprised at how quickly your choice of words affects the employee’s choice of how to perform. In fact, if you want more performance and productivity, you might consider holding off on the label and really examining the behavior. For instance:

If you call that employee a “Super Star”…

Their ego feels a boost and the bar has just been raised. Some will see this as an accolade to live up to and some will begin to worry if they are able to continue to keep the pace or risk experiencing burn out to ensure they do. Don’t hold back on the positive labels, merely pay attention to what you expect when you give them out. Calling someone a “super star” needs to be for recognition of behavior they have already done, not a description of who they are that they experience a reduction in self worth over if they don’t hear on the next performance eval.

If you call that employee “Slow”…

What kind of encouragement are you giving them to move any faster? Only certain personalities will see this label as a dare or challenge and attempt to rise above it. And, if you’re only thinking they’re slow and not actually saying it, your actions will still send that message as you dole out the more urgent or likely important projects to others. That employee may begin to think “I never get the good stuff so why bother doing any better” and you have just fulfilled the very label you wish didn’t fit.

If you call that employee a “Difficult Person”…

We train people how to treat us and if the label you give someone is negative, then your expectations become negative and you begin to look for confirmation of what you have decided is true. Are they really difficult or are they different. If you think they’re difficult, then quit being surprised when they act that way.

Remember the experiment from years ago about the teachers who altered their expectations of the students of an inner city school classroom? The teaching or curriculum didn’t change, merely their expectations. The group with high expectations of performance excelled and the ones from which the teachers didn’t expect much, didn’t produce very high marks. In this case, you’re the teacher and your expectations make all the difference in the world. Monitor them closely as with what you expect come the labels that identify just how big the gap is between your expectations and their performance. Are you expecting things this employee is capable of or are you expecting them to be something they’re not? We call it expecting a Jack Russell to act like a German Shepard. Hehe! Not familiar with that reference? Check out Make Difficult People Disappear.

If your organization needs an expectation alignment or training on how to lead employees to perform better, produce more, complain less, and stay longer, contact us at 1-866-382-0121 for more information on the training and consulting programs we provide that help you do just that!

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