Even great managers have biases – how to keep them from affecting your work

by on October 26, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

Who, me, prejudiced? Unfortunately, yes. But don’t take it too hard. Behavioral scientists say we all are, whether we realize it or not.

Prejudices, or biases, are generalized judgments – assumptions that every member of a group behaves similarly. And making such assumptions may have helped us survive as a species. After all, it wouldn’t have been very wise for early man to stop to inquire whether a particular saber-toothed tiger was really like all the rest, would it?

In today’s somewhat more civilized society, though, these hard-wired biases can create more harm than good. Consider these examples of common biases, and ask yourself, “Can I honestly say I’ve never had a thought like this?”

  • Kids today have no work ethic
  • Good-looking people are better at sales
  • Old people have trouble learning new things

The point is, you can’t help carrying around some bias. The question is, what are you going to do about it? If you allow biases about gender, race, age, disability or national origin to affect your decisions at work, then you’re at risk of violating anti-discrimination laws. And to keep that from happening, you must first be able to recognize those unconscious biases in yourself.

Fortunately, there’s an easy four-step method to figure out whether you’re at risk, and get you back on track. To find out how it works, I invite you to have a look at a Quick Take called “The ‘Self-Check Technique’ for Revealing Unconscious Bias.”

photo credit: quinet

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