How To Tear Down Your Biases and Communicate Well With Your Team
Because of our tribalist nature, our brains are hard-wired to make snap judgements and assumptions about people we don’t know.
Regardless of how intelligent, enlightened or well-intentioned you might be, you cannot get rid of your own cognitive bias. That being said, just being able to admit your thinking can be flawed is a helpful first step. Acknowledging bias will help you make more knowledgeable and rational choices. Business leaders can use techniques to decrease bias in essential areas, with the goal of improving worker satisfaction, the customer experience, and business results.
Types of Bias
Before addressing bias in your company, you should have a good understanding of what it is. Simply speaking, there are four types of cognitive bias: filtering, additive, convenience, and selective recall.
When we judge a situation or a person based on recent events, repeated events or firmly-held beliefs, it is considered filtering bias. For instance, employees making an argument that they are being overworked are less likely to mention times they were allowed to leave work early.
When we fill in missing information with an assumption, it is considered additive bias. Decisions made based on stereotypes are examples of this type of cognitive bias.
Convenience bias causes us to make decisions based on speed and ease. This happens all the time on-line, when people make comments on a controversial news article without actually reading the entire article.
Selective recall is a type of bias that causes us to disregard specific from past events. When we remember a baseball player or football player having a great game based on one single play, even though they also made many mistakes, it is an example of selective recall.
To tear down bias in your company, you should begin with you. Through personal effort and dedication, you can gain a deeper understanding of your own bias. Also, talk to other leaders in your company about identifying their own bias and organizational bias. A culture of acknowledgement, coaching, and support in trying to tackle bias can have a massive positive impact.
Because a great deal of bias is unconscious, an effective technique is to eliminate any information in a decision-making process that isn't relevant or that can feel 'loaded' with meaning. For instance, many hiring managers have names redacted from applicant résumés before screening them in an attempt to steer clear of gender and ethnic discrimination that many be triggered by gender-specific or ethnically-suggestive names.
Basing personnel decisions on hard numbers and data-driven standards can also help to eliminate bias in your organization. Look at the crucial metrics before and after bias-reducing interventions to ascertain if they are having the desired effect, such as positive shifts in hiring and retention across demographics.
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