Are Your Team High Performers or Losers?


Share on LinkedIn

What do you think of the team you manage? Are they the crème de la crème or a shower of …

Is that a rather harsh question? Perhaps, but the answer may well have a lot more to do with you than with them.

Why do some people do better than others?

In 1968 Rosenthal and Jacobsen started to look at under achievement among school children. Why do some children do better than others?

Their theory was that it was all to do with intelligence. If you tested children’s I.Q. you could predict which children would do well and which wouldn’t.

So they ran a test.

They ran a succession of sophisticated intelligence tests across children in different school classes. Using this data they identified the children who they thought showed “dramatic potential growth” and those who unfortunately, did not.

Then they sense checked the results with the school staff and teachers and left.

Eight months later

Rosenthal and Jacobsen returned to the school and re-ran the tests.

Their predictions were proven correct. The children highlighted as having superior potential showed a marked increase in I.Q. over the intervening period when compared to the other, “normal” children.

It is all about I.Q.

The sting in the tail

Whilst the I.Q. tests were real and the results were also statistically valid there was a twist. The experimenters allocated children to the “potential” and “normal” groups entirely randomly.

The increased test results had nothing to do with the children’s intellectual potential at all.

It had nothing to do with the children and everything to do with the teachers

If a teacher believed that a child was exceptional then the child became exceptional. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy (sometimes called the Pygmalion effect)

It would have been ethically irresponsible to create a “sub-normal” group in the eyes of the teachers. I’ll leave it to your own judgement what the implications would have been.

So are your team high performers or losers?

And is that down to them?

Or you?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

James Lawther
James Lawther is a middle-aged middle manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for many organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had multiple roles from running a night shift to doing operational research. He gets upset by operations that don't work and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here