Have you ever had that one coworker that you just can’t seem to click with? A co-worker that brings different ideas and opinions to the table that you don’t agree with? And each time they express their thoughts and opinions, you can’t be bothered to listen or play devil’s advocate? You, my friend, are a victim of confirmation bias.
In a nutshell confirmation bias is when we cherry pick information that is consistent with our own pre-existing beliefs. When we form ideas and beliefs about a person before we really get to see who they truly are, we are letting creative people with new and different ideas down. Individuals that have different opinions and ideas within an organization can actually be a huge asset. You know the saying “two heads are better than one? Imagine what you could do as a business when you have tons of ideas and opinions that are all different from one another.
All in all, when it comes down to it, confirmation bias is something that we all fall victim to at some point or another in our lives whether it be intentional or not. It is everywhere. In your personal life, at school, or at work, the only person that can kick confirmation bias is yourself and it starts here.
When talking about confirmation bias in the workplace it is very common. It is in interviews, clients, customers, even your first day on the job. Confirmation bias in the workplace can be a dangerous thing to play with. For instance it can lead to performance issues, such as biased hiring practices. Companies are required to make critical decisions for the betterment of the organization each and every day and if people within the organization are negatively influenced by confirmation bias then failure is bound to happen.
With this, here are four steps that can be taken to mitigate confirmation bias for individuals and businesses within the workforce in order to become more inclusive and reach organizational goals.
The first step is awareness. Diving deeper into your biases and becoming aware is a positive take on confirmation bias, in order to identify and avoid it. By allowing yourself to be wrong and open to other people’s ideas, opinions and beliefs that may not be inline with your own is a great step forward in abolishing confirmation biases while at work. Even providing tools to managers and employees on self-reflection can help majorly. Taking the time to understand and examine biases is how we can shift and mitigate our own.
When it comes to hiring, ensuring there is a set hiring policy in place so each candidate goes through the exact same process can help to mitigate biases. Being aware of confirmation bias can exist in the recruiting and hiring process is very important. When we onboard people that have the same ideas and opinions as ourselves we are holding back the organization and team when it comes to achieving desired results. By hiring people with different cultures, beliefs, ideas and opinions it can bring diversified perspectives and improve organizational morale.
Confirmation bias is widely seen in performance reviews. A step that can be taken to eliminate confirmation bias in employee performance reviews is to provide evidence on their performance rather than giving a vague comment. By using a specific and clear performance evaluation, ALL employees will be evaluated in a fair and equal manner eliminating confirmation bias for certain employees.
Create a work culture that encourages a safe space for individuals to provide feedback, share stories, opinions and ideas! By having that work environment that is open-minded to others, having a voice won’t be something that is feared. It will help to create trust within the team and help to create an open and honest dialogue between employees and managers.
It all comes down to step 1. Being aware that confirmation bias is here and here to stay if we don’t start to recognize and address it.
Canada is a mosaic of diverse cultures. We have people from all over the world with different experiences, working and living together. With a country as inclusive as it is, we need to continue to uplift and encourage one another. This comes with respecting one another’s values, traditions and beliefs regardless of our own. No single person is the same. If we all had the same ideas, wore the same clothes, looked identical and shared the same experiences, our world would be a pretty boring place. If we continue to strive for a society where EVERYONE is appreciated for simply just being who they are, we can be unstoppable, together.
Written by: Samantha Porter