Subconscious assumptions or negative messages that convey an expectation of poor performance are usually made unknowingly by managers. They are often directed toward an individual over time and have the dire effect of discouraging the individual and impeding his or her performance.
These "micro-inequities" can be as small as reading your BlackBerry while conducting a meeting, constantly looking at your watch during a conversation, or ignoring someone’s presence or input.
The result? One employee may not be given the same level of recognition as another, or an individual’s comments or suggestions (which may actually be very helpful for the organization) may go ignored during a group meeting. This accumulation of disrespect can mean the difference between a motivated individual and one who disengages—or moves on to work for a different employer.
So how do you avoid conveying an expectation of poor performance?
Be a manager who is truly interested in the development of your employees.
Ask open-ended questions, listen, and encourage participation from all individuals.
Be cognizant of subtle behavior that can be interpreted as exclusionary.
Take the time to build trust that enhances the development and performance of employees.
Be on the lookout for situations where your or other managers’ micro-inequities affect the staff.
While maximizing your investment in your people may take time and effort, the payoff will be a competent, dedicated team devoted to you and the bottom line.