Managers are expected to make decisions based on objective, impartial information. Whether it’s personnel issues, business strategy or any number of other top-level decisions, an unbiased perspective is one of the most important traits every good manager should develop.
However, despite your best efforts, it’s often impossible to eliminate any and all biases completely. Upbringing, habit, perspective and many other factors can all contribute to how we make decisions, and that can often take the form of a bias in one way or another. Here are some strategies you can use to root out any hidden bias in your management decision-making process, and how you can eliminate them.
Does bias run deeper than you think?
Often when people think of bias they think of overt prejudicial leanings such as those that inform positions of sexism and racism. However, you don’t have to be an out-and-out hatemonger to display some biased thinking.
For example, what image pops into your head when you think of “doctor” or “CEO” or “parent?” You may be surprised to find that cultural biases including gendered thinking seep into the very basis of how we use language and make associations. According to Human Resource Executive Online, there are tests designed to identify these hidden biases, such as Harvard’s Implicit Association Test, which has the stated goal of pointing out these deep-seated biases in our everyday thinking.
How you can bust bias in your office
Knowing how you can eliminate bias in your office – even in your own decision-making – is largely a process of understanding how humans think and make decisions. According to HRZone, our brains are capable of both snap judgment and more deliberate, thought-out decisions. The problem comes when we defer to the former on matters of important decisions.
It’s also helpful to identify common biases that make their way into the office. A writer at LinkedIn noted a few of these, such as the “poor hire bias.” This implies that when we see candidates with one attractive quality, we tend to attribute others to them automatically – often erroneously. From a management perspective, the “recency bias” can be especially damaging to employee engagement and morale. This is the tendency we have to remember only the most recent events or actions. In a performance review, for example, this can manifest as a tendency to focus on recent failures rather than past successes.