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.

Five Ways to Get Great Temporary Employees

Did you know that high performing employees produce 25% to as much as 1,000% more than their peers? And that includes temporary employees!

With temporary employees, getting the best results doesn’t happen by chance. But it does happen, and you actually have a lot more control over the quality of the contingent staff you hire.

So what can you do to get great temporary employees–every time?

Tip #1: Create job descriptions
If you want to hire a great employee, you first need to define what a great employee looks like. With temporary employees, you need to create job descriptions that accurately define the goals, duties, and responsibilities of each job. Ideally, your job descriptions should include specific performance goals and standards.

Tip #2: Benchmark performance
When creating job descriptions, go beyond a list of required skills and experience, and provide measurable goals for technical skills. One thing you can do is ask your staffing partner to conduct benchmark assessment tests with your current top performers. Then when they hire, they can compare new candidates against your company’s benchmark scores.

Tip #3: Allow more lead time
While last minute staffing needs will happen, the more time you can give your staffing partner to source and evaluate talent, the better they’ll be able to do.  And when you can’t provide much lead time, prioritize the skills and traits that are most critical for the assignment.

Tip #4: Set clear expectations
It may seem obvious, but if you want employees to do something, you have to tell them what you expect. And this includes temporary employees. Too often, temporary employees are given a list of duties to perform, but performance expectations are never discussed. Your quality and productivity expectations should be part of your job descriptions. They should also be discussed with each new temporary employee during their first day on the job.

Tip #5: Provide feedback
Performance feedback is essential to any employee’s success. Make sure your temporary workforce is given feedback on their work, especially in the first few days and weeks.  But with temporary employees, performance feedback can be a little tricky. To minimize co-employment issues, lean on your staffing partner to provide any needed discipline. While casual feedback directly to the worker is encouraged, formal performance feedback and discipline can be provided by your staffing partner.

If you are happy with a temporary employee’s work, it’s fine to tell them they are doing a great job. You should be specific about the things the person is doing well.  However, if you are not happy with a worker’s performance, tell your staffing partner about the problem.  If you want the worker terminated or replaced, ask your staffing partner to do it.

Want more ideas on temporary staffing?

Contact Helpmates today!  As one of the leading staffing agencies in Southern California, we match the area’s leading companies with outstanding temporary employees.

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