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Manage your biases so they don’t manage you

We all have biases.  They make us human. Biases are our natural inclinations for or against an idea, object, group or individual.  They are often learned and are highly dependent on variables like our environment, background and experiences.  Some biases can be positive and helpful, but many result in us making judgments that can negatively impact our decisions and the people around us.

Understanding and managing our biases is fundamental to building an inclusive culture and leveraging the diversity in our organisations.  It’s hard to benefit from our differences if we’re limited by our own perspectives!

In particular, it’s critical to identify our unconscious biases, because they can influence our behaviours and actions without us realising it.  By bringing our biases into the spotlight we can manage them. This helps us move from automatic emotional responses to slower more deliberate ones, where we take the time to consider alternative perspectives.  And the outcome?  Better decisions!

With this in mind, I thought I’d share my eight top tips for managing your biases at work.

1. Accept you have biases

Acknowledge that everyone has biases. The trick is to become more aware of them, and to learn some practical methods to manage them so they don’t impact your decisions.

2. Recognise your biases

Reflect on your behaviour and observe your reactions to different people.  Notice how you respond to certain situations and what your “default” position is.

3. Slow down

When making decisions, give yourself time to gather additional information and reflect.  This is particularly important if you’re under stress or responding to an emotive impulse.

4. Be curious

Keep an open mind.  Think about what else you need to consider.  Ask open-ended questions to gather as much information as possible.

5. Consider different perspectives

Actively seek out alternative information and viewpoints.  Look for perspectives that contradict your own.  Use empathy to understand the situation from another person’s point of view.

6. Stick to the facts

Ensure all relevant information is available and don’t guess.  Recognise that when we don’t know everything, we tend to fill in the blanks with our own assumptions.  Shift the conversation toward concrete information.

7. Use structured decision making

Structure is your friend.  Set clear criteria for your decisions and keep coming back to this during your evaluation process.

8. Get to know different people

Spend time with people who are different to you and take the time to understand their perspectives. Switch your ‘go to’ person for information, advice, and feedback to someone who will challenge you.

These tips are taken from my “From Bias to Belonging” Capability Programme. This programme covers what biases are, how they impact us, common biases at work, and how to discuss biases with others.  It covers biases in common business scenarios including recruitment (with changes you can make to your processes), brought to life through practical case studies that will start meaningful conversations.  As always, my programmes are delivered in a fun and interactive way and can be tailored to your organisation and budget. 

If you’re keen to know more, including how I can support you on a train-the-trainer basis, please get in touch on I look forward to hearing from you!

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