I remember a young lady who went to work for a company immediately after graduating from college. She seemed extremely talented but unbelievably timid.
She was assigned to a division-level marketing department where she assisted in the production of advertising and collateral material. Her supervisor associated her shyness with a lack of technical and conceptual skills. As a result, she was never included in brainstorming or planning sessions. The supervisor thought she was best suited to simple graphics layout and paste-up.
Frustrated that her talents were squandered on simple tasks, she applied to the corporate marketing department. The vice-president reviewed her resume and transferred her without interviewing her at length. His concept of the young lady was positive and assigned her to a series of important, key projects. She performed magnificently.
A few months later, the original supervisor was in the vice-president’s office admiring the new corporate ad campaign. The project consisted of television and radio commercials, full-page ads for national publications and complete press kits. The supervisor asked, “What kind of a Madison Avenue rain-maker worked this kind of magic?” The VP replied, “This was all completed by that young lady you sent me. That was the best move I ever made!”
This is but one example of the dozens of cases I can document where individuals were literally hobbled by low or incorrect expectations. In many instances, the mind set of a co-worker or supervisor can restrict an employee’s ability to become an excellent performer.
This cause-and-effect model applies to all aspects of our lives. The neighbor’s young son asked if he could mow my yard. I told him I would talk to his dad first. The father said, “I don’t think he can handle a mower. I never let him near mine. Go ahead if you like.” I assured him I would watch his son closely and be certain he could handle the equipment safely.
The boy not only knew how to handle the mower, but did such a good job, I asked him to help each week. His dad was amazed. “I never would have guessed,” he said. “You should have given him a chance,” I suggested.