Manager, Heal Thyself of Unconscious Bias

We all exhibit unconscious bias whenever we interact with others. In fact, psychologists have catalogued many different types of cognitive biases that filter our perception of the environment.

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But, once we are aware of these biases, we can be alert for them and recognize when we are falling victim to them. Managers need to keep them in mind when dealing with their workers to make sure the managers are dealing fairly and consistently with everyone under them. If you are a manager, here are a few biases to watch out for.

  1. Bias in delegating

Do you unconsciously favor some people over others when you delegate work? Do you tend to give the same workers more challenging and interesting work, while assigning more mundane tasks to others? Also, sometimes managers, without realizing it, give more complete and detailed instructions to certain workers, while imparting scant information to other employees, making their task that much harder.

  1. Bias in feedback

Managers may also unknowingly soft-pedal feedback for some workers, delivering it in a more casual, friendly manner, while taking a more authoritarian and judgmental approach with others.

  1. Bias in assumptions

Managers may also not be aware of unconscious bias they have toward people based on their background, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or education.

Other factors affecting a manager’s judgment unconsciously can be a person’s appearance, mannerisms, and speech, such as a particular dialect. These stereotypes can color a manager’s beliefs about a certain employee’s ability. If you’re manager, you need to think about your behavior toward employees, bring your assumptions out in the open, and examine them.

Also, we tend to give more credence to information that confirms beliefs or assumptions we already hold, neglecting data that may contradict our beliefs.

  1. Bias in recognition

A manager may consistently recognize or praise certain workers and withhold it from others for reasons the manager is not really aware of. Again, unconscious bias may be at work influencing how the manager reacts to some employees.

  1. Bias in hiring

Managers unconsciously tend to favor people who are like them. It’s something everyone does. We feel people who look like, have the same backgrounds, etc. us are somehow better. This is a bias hiring managers need to keep in mind when doing job interviews. They need to figure out how to counteract it. This kind of bias can hinder a company’s efforts to recruit a more diverse workforce, leading to employees who generally all think the same way.

  1. Bias in socializing

Again, because we have an unconscious bias toward people like ourselves, we might tend to socialize more with people like us. Managers may be chatting and bantering more with some workers than others because of this bias. This could make some of your team members feel left out or unappreciated.

  1. Bias in mentors

The bias toward people like us can also manifest itself in the choice of people managers look to for advice and counsel. As a manager, ask yourself if you tend to go to the same people for advice simply because you feel more comfortable with them, depriving yourself of different viewpoints and perspectives.

The tendencies listed above are biases related to other people, but we also have many biases about how we perceive the world around us and the information we receive. For example, when examining an issue or problem, we tend to reduce it to general terms and avoid details and specifics. When we make decisions, we gravitate more toward simple solutions rather than more complex ones. We also tend to see patterns even when there is not enough information to clearly establish one. We tend to pay more attention to events that occur more often, even though they may not be any more important than other events.

Helpmates is here to help Southern California’s employers find terrific workers for their temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job opportunities. Contact the branch nearest you for more information on how we can help you find great people to help your business thrive.

Helpmates’ Proven Performers Prepared for Work in Our New Normal

We have oriented and prepared our top specialists in Covid-19 work safety best practices and they are ready to deploy quickly.

Whether you’re an essential business and still operating during our current safe-at-home reality or you’re hoping to reopen your business as you anticipate a relaxing of social distancing guidelines in the next few weeks, Helpmates has the proven workers ready for assignment, whether you need them to work on-site or remotely.

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We’ve been staffing companies throughout Southern California for more than 45 years providing workers businesses need now and in the future. We have oriented our top specialists in Covid-19 best practices and they are ready to work safely and securely in any type of business situation, whether it’s in an office, a distribution center, warehouse, manufacturing facility, or even remotely.

These are some of our exceptional employees, people who have received consistent top marks from their previous assignments and they are eager and ready to be deployed to companies in the industry segments in which we place workers:

  • Office/Administration
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution/Logistics
  • And more.

We visit each of our industrial clients before sending our associates to work on-site and we provide Covid-19 safety support to our office-location clients.

Our clients have told us that our safety oversight visits protect not only our specialists, but also helps our clients improve their pandemic safety practices for their own employees.

In addition, while all of our Helpmates specialists already have received Covid-19 safety orientation, they will do so again right before they head to an assignment with you. We also ensure our specialists receive orientation in your company’s individual safety parameters and/or procedures before they head out for their assignment with you.

We maintain close contact with our specialists while on their assignments with you and make sure they stay up-to-date with new safety recommendations or guidelines as they change. For example, Los Angeles County’s recent mandate that everyone wear cloth face masks when in public, while Orange County in mid-April required that all workers in essential businesses such as grocery and liquor stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and places where food prep is done wear face masks. (This may have changed since this post was written.)

Here for you as you reopen

California will slowly start re-opening its economy in the next few weeks. Helpmates is prepared to help businesses reopen carefully as we have started orienting all of our new associates in Covid-19 safety guideline so that they are well-prepared for deployment.

Learn more about how Helpmates can help you and your workers stay safe now and in the months to come by calling Rosalie Villa at 949-225-5016 or via email at rvilla@helpmates.com.

Helping Employees Embrace Negative Feedback

None of us succeeds in our careers without receiving negative feedback at least once.

Many of us understandably melt into a puddle of despair and never recover believing that if feedback is true (and when done correctly, it is) then we are losers of the first order and so…what’s the point? And we then settle for a career of mediocrity, never reaching our full potential.

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Since constructive criticism is essential to employee growth and improved performance, we’ve put together a short list of things you can do to help your employees embrace – or at least welcome – negative feedback.

  • Feedback is a tool, not a weapon.

Remember that your purpose is not to shame an employee but to help them improve. When done well, employees receiving less-than-gushing feedback will understand that you’re not trying to hurt them, but trying to help them improve. Truly caring about your subordinates comes across when feedback is given in the spirit of “you’re pretty good; here’s how to get even better.”

(Note: if you learn that someone is using feedback in a vindictive manner to colleagues and/or subordinates, it’s time to have a sit-down to discuss and reiterate that such behavior is not acceptable. Yes, the irony here is not lost on us: there’s the chance you’d be providing strongly worded negative feedback to a negative feedback bully.)

  • The “feedback sandwich.” Is it time to retire it?

Some people think the old “sandwich” technique of delivering feedback with a “compliment/critique/compliment” process can give a worker a “false sense of how they’re doing” (hearing two positives to just one negative can appear to mean that they’re doing well).

  • Try the “critique and solution” method instead.

For example, say someone regularly provides reports past deadline. Tell the employee why this is a problem: “Joshua needs to edit and proof the report and Tenisha then needs to lay it out graphically and if it’s late, you put them both behind in their schedule.”

Then together come up with a solution.  Ask the worker to think about why they’re regularly late with the report and then the two of you can figure out how the report can be done on time.

Understand that you may have to do something yourself to help the employee fix the problem. Perhaps the employee feels the deadline is too rushed and so you then offer to provide a longer lead-time/extended deadline.

  • Follow up is key.

And by follow up we don’t mean micromanage. Check in with worker regularly (let them know you will do so) and offer feedback. Once you feel the employee has improved as much as possible and/or you think is necessary, back off.

  • Failing to provide feedback means you’re failing your employee.

Many managers have a hard time offering criticism to subordinates, but you’re doing no one any favors if you don’t:

  • You’re allowing an employee to continue a sub-par performance, possibly hurting productivity and/or profits.
  • You’re showing other employees that a sub-par performance is okay.
  • You’re not helping your subordinate grow and reach their full potential.

None of us improves without making mistakes and then having someone see that we’ve made a them, professionally pointing it out then offering direction and suggestions for improvement.

Criticism therefore is important for all of us: it helps us improve and better ourselves. Failing to provide negative feedback/critiquing employees when warranted means they will continue performing poorly. And, because it’s part of a manager’s job to help employees improve, by letting a poor status quo continue, you’re letting your subordinates down.

While we encourage you to work with employees to help them improve, if one or more can’t – or won’t – accept your feedback and strive to improve and you decide to terminate, Helpmates can provide you with top-notch workers for your temporary, temp-to-hire or direct-hire needs. We hope you contact the branch nearest you to learn more.

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