Your Jolly Fat Expectation Can Influence Behavior

Insight #319 – Reading time: about 0.8 minutes

The jolly fat man in the corner office announcing your bonus

At this time of year, we wonder whether we’ve been good enough to expect a reward from the jolly fat man in the corner office. Which is why it’s a good time to remind you that expectations can influence behavior.

The word expectation has two meanings: likely-to-happen and ought-to-happen.

Often in organizations, likely-to-happen outweighs ought-to-happen. A manager knows what behavior is required (ought-to), but believes that inappropriate behavior is more likely to occur.

This can cause a vicious cycle, reinforcing poor performance: A manager’s expectations of how a subordinate will behave can determine how the manager treats that subordinate. That treatment will, in turn, affect how the subordinate responds, which then reinforces the manager’s expectation.

The good news is that the cycle can reinforce good behavior.

The bad news? Whatever reward you expect, it’s not necessarily your fault or based on your doing.

But maybe, in your case, that’s good news.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

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