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| 2 minutes read

Being aware of and minimising bias in performance conversations and hiring

What do we mean when we talk about bias? Bias is an error in judgement. It’s when our conscious or unconscious prejudices affect our judgement of another person, and this impacts how we act.

Why should we avoid it? We need to ensure that bias doesn't impact hiring and other decisions that are made in the workplace. This article is specifically referring to types of bias surrounding hiring and people managing in the workplace, and here are some common types of bias to be aware of and what they mean.

The IKEA effect - this is a bias where someone is inclined to place higher value on things they have partially created. Managers are inclined to be supportive of employees they have chosen, developed and trained themselves, and it's important to be aware of this bias. Whilst of course it is important to support colleagues, having an open mind is key.  Bias can negatively impact productivity, employee retention and employee happiness and confidence.

Gender bias often occurs in feedback. Reports suggest that men receive more detailed work orientated feedback on behaviours and accomplishments, whereas women receive feedback about their personality. This is important to be aware of. 

Leniency Bias - this is when people are given higher ratings than they are warranted on their performance. It could be described as 'going easy' on someone and it also links in with the Halo Effect, which is when you allow one strength of a person to overshadow everything else.

Centrality bias - this is a tendency to rate people in the middle of the scale. Giving someone honest and constructive feedback takes more effort, but it's more useful for everyone. 

Recency Bias - People tend to place higher value on work they have seen recently. This doesn’t provide a holistic view and when conducting a performance review, it's very important to take into account work that was done throughout the period that the review relates to.  You can avoid this by asking the team for evidence and feedback from throughout the year. 

Proximity Bias - this is an incorrect assumption that people will create better work if they are physically present in the office and you can see and hear them working. This not only puts remote workers at risk of failure, but it's also impossible to judge people's performance on this at the moment with people working remotely. This bias can definitely transfer into the remote world of working and it's important to consider. 

Idiosyncratic Rater Bias - when you have higher standards for a skill that you are an expert in, so you rate someone more harshly. When managers evaluate skills they’re not good at, they may rate others higher. Conversely, they rate others lower in things they’re great at. This is an important one to be aware of. 

Similar To Me Bias - this is the inclination to give a higher rating to/hire someone who has similar skills, interests and background to you.

Confirmation Bias - The tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms a person’s preexisting beliefs. For example, if you ignore feedback that goes against your pre conceived view. How can a workplace overcome this? Encourage your managers to think like scientists. Teach them to try to disconfirm a hypothesis to ensure that their belief is correct.

Some of the most effective ways to prevent bias are to make people aware of bias and incorporate bias blockers into each step of the process to ensure that it is fair. Continue to review processes and educate your team.


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