Unconscious bias influences decision making

Biased behaviour tops all others when it comes to workplace issues. Such behaviour is mainly an outcome of unconscious bias. Where people tend to make influenced decisions instead of making rational and logical ones while prejudicing for or against any specific person or group. When this takes over organizational decision-making in critical matters such as recruitment, people management, performance management, etc. then you are likely to fail to come up with the appropriate and objective-oriented solutions.

The unconscious biases that people are not even aware of are far scarier and dangerous than conscious biases. Moreover, when you look at the broader aspect from a business point of view, such bias-based decision-making can even limit your creativity and prospects that may directly affect your productivity, performance and people. Overall, it may take a toll on your business and market reputation.

Mitigate the negative impact of unconscious bias

To create and maintain inclusivity at the workplace, it is quite essential to recognize, understand and manage your own internal unconscious biases. But, it’s not that easy. It is much easier to identify and combat conscious bias.  First, you need to get aware of your habits, beliefs, actions. Unfortunately, they are not always at the forefront of your mind.  However,  it’s possible to resist and mitigate the negative impact of unconscious bias on your workplace environment and decision-making.  Here are a few tactics that may help you overcome unconscious bias.

1. Explore your internal unconscious bias

This is the foremost step towards getting rid of this practice of bias-based decisions-making. Everyone must accept that we all have biases. Build awareness among employees as well as supervisors to watch out their actions and decisions. This will at least put them in a discretion mode that will ultimately lead to controlled behaviours.

2. Approach conscious decision making

Biased behaviour in any form can do a lot of damage to an organization. The most disastrous effect is when critical decisions are overridden by biases. Thus, you must take care to make decisions more consciously.  There are several approaches that you can apply during tough decision-making situations. One of the approaches is ‘priming’ or just taking a tour of your mental state before the process so that you get more conscious while putting your opinions and suggestions. For instance, to avoid any kind of bias while interviewing or reviewing resume, just ask the recruiters a few questions like if they know the candidate, or does he/she remind them of someone, or is there any strong opinion that they have developed for the candidate?

Putting such filters can make the job easier as well as bias-free. Additionally, a widespread discussion on the same will also limit the possibility of making influenced decisions. Another approach that can be used is structuring the processes in a well-defined manner that reduce biased decisions. For instance, the hiring process must be carried according to well-structured formats that eliminate the flexible or overtly (fair or unfair) behaviours towards job candidates.

3. Focus on Accountable Decision-Making

This one is the ultimate bias-controller. Every new decision taken has to be backed by appropriate and genuine reasons and arguments. For instance, if a supervisor rates his 10 sub-ordinates (5 men and 5 women) and at the end, the top performers declared include 4 females, then it is quite possible to have a flurry of questions pointed towards the supervisor. In such a case, he/she could be biased. But if not, then proper arguments and reasons must be presented so as to justify the ratings. Moreover, others can also be asked to rate the same set and cross-check the results.

Bias is as natural as human emotion. It is certainly impossible to suppress it completely. Unconscious bias can be better judged and controlled on individual levels by self-checking your own actions and decisions and checking the matters that trigger such uncontrolled and unintentional gestures.

Thus it’s better to shift your mindset towards finding ways to avoid such incorrect actions. Actions that may directly affect your company growth and productivity. Organizations can incorporate a culture of constant enquiries on critical decisions to check their neutrality as well as encourage the workforce to be aware of the negative impact of such behaviours.

Starting his career as a Cold Fusion developer, Sharma has gained expertise in the field along with perfecting knowledge in diversified technologies like JavaScript, .Net, PHP, Android App Development, Hadoop, Redis, and MongoDb, just to name a few. Sharma has also closely worked on Product Development, People Management, Cloud Software/ SaaS-based Application Development, Agile Development (Scrum), Big Data, Natural Language Processing, Distributed Systems and NoSQL.