Imagine a workplace where managers and coworkers viewed one another through a purely objective lens. Or where customer concerns were resolved without blame, judgment, or misunderstanding, 100 percent of the time.
Sounds pretty far-fetched, right?
Many organizations’ perceptions of their workforce, customer service standards, and brand reputation are far out of alignment with those of their employees, customers, and respective industry as a whole.
To put it more simply, it comes down to cognitive bias about business.
Managers are often surprised to learn that negative employee and customer perceptions of the business are the direct result of their own cognitive biases.
Cognitive bias in businessManagers are often surprised to learn that negative employee and customer perceptions of the business are the direct result of their own cognitive biases. Click To Tweet
Very Well Mind describes cognitive bias as a “systematic error in thinking that affects the decisions and judgments that people make,” and “a type of error in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the world around them.”
When you apply those cognitive biases to business processes, you can see how this becomes problematic.
Due to cognitive biases, managers or organizations may fail to see consequences of protecting a culture stuck in the past or unwilling to embrace divergent opinions.
Want to learn more about getting to the root of these unconscious biases? Don’t miss this post.
Consider the example of Jack, a talented millennial in the sales profession.
Jack’s client base is largely comprised of an older demographic that prefers “closing the deal” with his baby boomer manager.
Jack shared his frustration with me regarding his customers’ lack of trust.
He lamented: “My friends tell me that I should grow a beard so I’ll be taken more seriously.”
The harsh truth is that Jack’s customers don’t perceive him as capable or competent.
Jack’s manager runs the risk of losing a valuable employee by knowingly or unknowingly maintaining the status quo. Even worse, Jack is perceived as lacking the ability to build business relationships, both internally and externally.
When a genuine display of trust is encouraged, people are motivated to be their best.
In the absence of trust, individuals are likely to question their employer’s credo, become increasingly disengaged, or potentially shut down and quit.
Want help building a collaborative, trusting space at work? I’ve outlined important steps for this process here.Business is often won or lost based on how we perceive people and enterprises. Click To Tweet
Subjectivity in business
Business is often won or lost based on how we perceive people and enterprises.
And whether or not we’re prepared to admit it, subjectivity creeps into almost every human interaction.
A prospective employee forms impressions of an organization based on research and the job interview. They can be highly influenced by a friend’s recommendation when deciding to accept a position.
Once on board, his or her actual experience may not resemble what they envisioned.
Similarly, a customer decides to return to an establishment or take their business elsewhere based on how he or she discerns and then experiences the overall encounter.
Overcoming preconceived notions and cognitive bias
Changing perspectives and biases that have been ingrained for years is a process.
In order to expand our perspective and suspend judgment, we first need to recognize our frames of reference, attitudes and perceptions that have been honed over a period of time. Influences can include family, geographic location, education and culture.
Many individuals are unaware they view the world through a myopic lens and may not realize the negative business consequences of these cognitive biases until they experience the impact directly.
Others may remain oblivious for a multitude of reasons and never transform their thinking.
You perceptions are indeed your truth.
Only you can decide if your discernments are attracting or repelling potential talent or clientele from doing business with you.
To learn more about increasing accountability (and much more) in the workplace, you can also WATCH and subscribe to Michelle’s brand new Leadership Insights TV Series!
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This article was originally published on March 20, 2017, and has been updated.