Expectancy Theory

When trying to encourage someone to step up to a challenge or task be aware that their level of motivation to undertake that task can vary.

A quick way to assess someone’s readiness is based upon whether they are ABLE – they have the skills and experience to perform the task, or if they are WILLING – they want to put forth the effort to do so.

We often make inaccurate assumptions prior to delegating or even worse we don’t think it at all and just hand off the assignment.

Here are the combinations to consider:

·  Willing and able: Motivation should be High – delegate away!

·  Willing but not able: Can’ t risk giving them a task without spending time getting them ready.

·  Able but not willing: Examine why they are not willing.  What can you do to influence them?

·  Not willing and not able: Find someone else or accept the risks.


You can also use this tool to assess someone with poor performance. It can be hard to decide how much effort to put into helping them. If they are not able, stop and help coach them on how to do it. If they are unwilling, then it is time to have a conversation about their motivation and what is holding them back. It may be a bigger, fit, issue. 

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