Workplace Bias

“You’re biased!” It’s something we’ve all heard and said, but perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to cast blame on the basis of bias. After all, personal bias is a natural part of life. As unavoidable as bias may be, however, one thing you should strive to avoid is allowing your preconceptions and personal perceptions get in the way of objectively assessing a situation, employee, or offer.

Thankfully, these three steps can help you remove bias from the process of forming leadership assessments.

  1. Ratings Versus Reality

One interesting way of combating personal bias is to directly confront them. We may have ideas in our head about what we’d like to see in our businesses or leaders, but that doesn’t always translate into reality. As a proof of this concept, try asking everyone to imagine their ideal leader – or, indeed, their ideal selves versus their actual selves. By directly confronting this dichotomy between what we want to see and what we actually do see, you can empower your employees (and yourself) to give more unbiased and less wishful thinking-driven assessments of leadership.

  1. Be Specific

One way we let our biases affect our decision-making and evaluative processes is by being too general. “I just don’t like him/her.” Why? By forcing someone to give examples, you’re getting more concrete feedback. Just as importantly, you might tamp down exaggerated negativity. If someone has to give specific reasons why they don’t like someone or something, they have a better chance of understanding why they feel that way and how valid and evidence-based their feelings really are.

  1. Evaluative Tweaks

Another way of removing bias is changing the way you evaluate people and jobs via the assessments themselves. Giving people the ability to add comments, rather than simply ticking boxes, can force them to think about and give better reasons for their evaluations.

By taking these basic steps, you can help eliminate unnecessary bias and, in the process, give your HR department and leaders the data they need to make objective decisions about internal and external company affairs.