Archives for bias

What Do We Really Need More of?

Love by Mayberry Health and Home on Flickr

Sing it with me…”What the world…needs now…is…”

Before you go labeling me as a “snowflake,” or “airy-fairy” or an idealist, all of which I have been accused of and may or may not be true, let me ask you this…. What do you prefer? Love or Rules?

In all the corporate disciplines that exist to help companies become better at cultivating a culture that keeps valuable talent and optimizes engagement (Organizational Development, Human Resources, Training and Development, Talent Management, Change Management, Human Capital Management, etc.,) it seems the best a company can do as of right now is to engage an emotional intelligence trainer, train their managers to be better coaches (I will distinguish between these things below), and re-employ someone who turns out to be suited for their intended role or should their role be eliminated.

Even in these best practices, there are shortcomings, and most companies are just trying to cover their butts with more extensive sexual harassment awareness training and instituting more clear expectations of respectful behavior as well as clear and fair consequences for infractions. Is this adequate? Are these companies treating the symptoms instead of the causes?

Not all managers are coaches. Most managers focus mainly on the pragmatic components of performance. Some, for liability reasons or simply because they don’t feel work is the time or place or because they don’t feel adept at addressing it, ignore the emotional side of their human resources. At what cost?

On the morning I was interviewed by KQTH radio in Tucson last week, I awoke and read a page of Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne Dyer. Reading an inspiring passage to start my day was a ritual that I adopted with the Miracle Morning in 2016. I was going to be interviewed on recruiter blacklists by Mike Rapp, and this particular passage was of serendipitous significance.

Think about the problems that would disappear if people were actually kind, instead of being forced to be kind:

  • The negatives of black lists
  • Harassment (sexual or otherwise)
  • Bullying
  • Bias/discrimination

A long time ago I stopped teaching my clients how to act confident and focused more on helping them be confident. If I find that my clients are hurting or resentful about their employment past, I know that they will get much further much faster if they acknowledge that pain, process it, and release it rather than if they ignore it or pretend it isn’t there.

What would happen if instead of creating rules and guidelines to attempt to avoid offensive behaviors, we address why people treat other people poorly in the first place?

“Hurt people hurt people.” (This quote has been attributed to Will Bowen, Yehuda Berg, and Rick Warren)

Regardless of who said it, can you see how this is true?

I’m not suggesting traditional therapy is the answer. I spent years in therapy myself during my youth through my parent’s divorce, and while I did gain some validation for why I acted out as I did, and it was nice to have someone to talk to during that time, I only felt more emboldened and justified in acting out toward my parents. I felt justified in my resentment. I didn’t heal. The healing began when I started to take more accountability, learned how to forgive, and how to be compassionate. This was coaching, not therapy.

It’s not like flicking a switch. I’m not cured of my pain, and I still may tend to react in my old ways rather than respond in a conscious way, but my awareness improves with continued coaching and I continue to add tools to my toolbox to come from a place of love and compassion rather than pain, and the outcomes of my interactions with people are infinitely better when I do.

Coaching is a way of providing an objective perspective on what can hold back peak performance, and what can be done to attain and maintain peak performance. Coaches do not shy away from the nitty gritty of feelings. They create a safe space for a person to be flawed, give feedback without judgment, and provide techniques, drills, exercises. They provide support and accountability in creating new habits.

Some might say that the workplace is no place for:

  • Love
  • Crying
  • Feelings
  • Personal problems
  • Games

Except, science is proving that positive psychology techniques in the workplace are already:

  • Transforming how a company collaborates
  • Feeding innovation
  • Improving workforce health
  • Improving productivity
  • Increasing profits

Shawn Achor proved in his work with Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries that the byproducts of a more positive workforce are well worth the investments and the investments don’t even have to be monetary or require a lot of time.

I am keenly aware that people in pain don’t usually just make a simple choice to be more positive. Personal transformation is much more complex. There are patterns of thinking reinforced over a lifetime that need to be identified and reversed. Yes, you can apply some simple happiness techniques to become more positive, and that WILL trickle down to various elements of your professional and personal life, and maybe that would be adequate to cultivate respect and tolerance.

But what could work look like if there was a focus on healing and helping employees reach potential in areas of their lives besides work?

One thing I can say with confidence – As hard as you can try to compartmentalize an area of your life, it will surely bleed into the others. This goes for both good and bad things. If you form a good habit in your health, it will have a cascading effect on other areas of your life. If you are having problems at home, or are dealing with health issues, you will find your productivity and engagement go down. Even those who escape their personal problems and dive into their work will find that there is a burn out point, or they are just a little less than their best selves when they are at work. There is even greater pressure to make that part of their lives go well.

Your emotions impact your brain chemistry and your brain chemistry impacts your physical body, communication, and cognition (obviously).

What I am suggesting is that companies consider a truly holistic, even “alternative” approach to the very current initiatives of ridding the workplace from bias, harassment of all kinds, bullying, discrimination, toxicity and stifled growth.

Yes, employees will always benefit from being able to relate better with one another, but they also need to relate better to themselves.

We are less able to give when we feel we don’t have enough. If we don’t feel like we have enough of our basic human emotional needs: connectedness, acceptance, love, we won’t be apt or able to offer it. What companies are asking their employees to do is to put other people’s feelings first. I foresee there being much resistance and inadequate execution with this method.

 

In 2018 Epic Careering is launching a program that will help companies create a conscious culture. It will come with assessments, live workshops, online courses, interactive communities, and management and executive consciousness coaching training. If you recognize that your company is experiencing conflicts and breakdowns that require an alternative solution to the traditional corporate approach, e-mail Karen at Karen@epiccareering.com. Confidentiality is guaranteed. Take the first step in transforming your company for everyone’s sake. There could be a day when you feel as good about going to work as you do about coming home.

What The World Needs Now Is Love / Dionne Warwick

Please skip CM. I am sorry to mistake some spellings. Dionne Warwick ディオンヌ・ワーウィック Burt Bacharach バート・バカラック

How Can Anybody Get Anything Done These Days?

Social Media by Magicatwork of Flickr

 

It has been an interesting past few months on social media. I can personally say it has been much more of a distraction now than it has ever been.

My usual tricks for limiting the amount of time that I spend engaging in non-work related activities on social media have had much less of an impact, and in a lot of cases it’s like I’ve forgotten all about them.

(I will share them in a bit.)

I do not post or comment a lot on political subjects, but I do feel a need to stay informed. This leads to observing very heated discourse between people on both sides of various topics.

I do not seek to persuade anyone, but I do seek to understand both sides. Unfortunately, in most cases I don’t find understanding. Instead, I noticed that I’ve just wasted an extra 15 minutes, sometimes even longer, reading commentary that upsets me. Then I spend another 15 minutes trying to find content that will help me get back into a healthier, more positive, more productive mindset.

Generally, I have noticed that I feel a little more powerless and that has led to a lot more anxiety. I have noticed that people I like to spend time with, I avoid now, knowing that they are very vocal on the opposite side of my beliefs. This makes me sad and I do not feel as connected to these people who used to bring such joy to my life.

I have a given an exception for invitations to meet new network contacts, and favor shorter get-to-know-you phone calls to avoid topics that usually tend to emerge when you sit down with someone for longer than a half hour.

My practice of being happy has required a lot more diligence to overcome these obstacles. I tend to want to immerse myself in more positive content just to normalize myself into a state where I can get done what is on my agenda to fulfill my mission.

Then I wonder about all of these people who are engaging in heated discourse. Some of them seem to go back-and-forth all day defending their original statement and refuting others. I’m seeing referencing data, which may not have just been at their fingertips. It is clear that they have taken the time to search and find this data simply to prove to a stranger that they are right and the other is wrong.

The upsetting thing for me is not that people disagree. I believe that is part of the beauty of our country. The upsetting thing is the name-calling and the dismissing other people’s opinion as being a product of ignorance, lack of morals, or low intelligence.

As a human being prone to bias just like anyone else, as per my previous post, I may make the same initial assumptions, but I know logically that even if there is a different belief system driving people to reside on an opposite side than me, my beliefs are not better than theirs, nor are they worse. It is just very difficult using the medium of social media and a venue like emotionally-charged sound bites, to really get down to the understanding that would enable me to draw a more accurate conclusion.

This desire to understand, however, is not only unsatisfying but unproductive. Especially while my first quarter initiatives have been riddled with technical setbacks and difficulties, it has been even easier for me to justify the distraction of so called informing myself and seeking understanding. I’m at a crossroads and I have to make a change.

No, this isn’t my usual “insight, expertise and practical tips” post. This is something I am still in the middle of figuring out, and I know that I’m not alone. I am hoping we can help each other figure it out. Here are some things that I have done in the past that have been successful in helping me curb succumbing to the siren of social media:

 

Lists on post-its

I cannot always opt to just to avoid social media; it is part of my job. Not only do I market myself on social media, but I also help others leverage it to increase opportunity. That means staying in tune with changes, staying up on navigation and future updates, and listening and observing to help others effectively use social media. Lists may not seem like that ingenious of an idea, but the key is keeping them visible. I write a sticker for whatever I am there on social media to accomplish and stick it to my screen. It serves as a constant reminder that I am there for a purpose.

 

A timer

It is a best practice to decide the night before what I really need to accomplish the next day and break my day up into segments. If you are someone who experiences high-level anxiety when things don’t go as planned, this may actually increase your stress. The purpose is not to be rigid, but to be intentional. If something happens to take longer than anticipated, I know that I have to adjust the rest of the day and the activities, perhaps making some sacrifices to make sure that the most important things get done.

In The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, I learned that we will tend to take as long as we give ourselves to complete a project. This is why some people wait until the last minute to finish a project– they feel it will ultimately take them less time than if they started early. Of course, waiting until the last minute can cause problems when unexpected events and challenges occur. Tim Ferris does not recommend waiting until the last minute, but he does recommend giving yourself and others an early fake deadline. In applying his advice, not only will I manage a larger project like this, but also milestones, mini-projects and tasks.

When it comes to things like writing and social media, I know my tendencies are to get sucked in and take too much time. These are the things that I time. I might give myself an hour to write a blog, but when it comes to social media I will keep the time very short, I favor multiple short visits versus blocking a significant amount of time to get everything done. For instance, I will avoid social media until I have gotten the most impactful things out of the way. I will have already have meditated, and I certainly will have already broken my day down. Then I will schedule three 10 minute time slots intended for short postings that I will write outside of social media first. The next day I will allocate an hour to posting a client’s LinkedIn profile content. Then I plan when I will engage in social media for personal pleasure and interaction. I usually do this during a meal, unless I am eating with someone. I may slip in again while my kids brush their teeth at night. This is ideally where it would stop.

 

Turn off notifications

Social media designers know what they’re doing, and their intention is to make you come back over and over again. They want you addicted. Turning off notifications can be tough when potential clients and customers reach you through these venues and their needs are immediate, for instance if you’re a plumber and you deal with a lot of plumbing emergencies. Realistically, you would want to have someone else handling any incoming inquiries, because most of your time would ideally be spent helping customers. When you have a different quandary – make sure whoever is assisting you with incoming leads isn’t wasting their time on social media.

If these strategies alone do not help you minimize the amount of time that you spend not getting closer to your goals, there are some apps that can help you block websites for periods of time. SelfControl, StayFocsd, and Cold Turkey may help. If your job requires you to be on social media, these tools maybe too inhibitive for you.

If you have noticed a decrease in your quality of life and relationships, and you believe there might be a correlation between this and your social media usage, I encourage you to try these tricks.

However, if these tricks do not work and you sense that your social media habits will continue to have a cost to your life, consider that you might be suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out). While this legitimate syndrome recognized by psychologists is not just limited to social media and users thereof, you may be able to look at your social media usage as either a symptom or a cause, and reach out for help.

 

As I am committed to relieving myself from the potential costs that social media has been imposing on my own life, I would love to hear others strategies and tactics.

 

Bias is Human, Yet Harmful

Interview by Alan Cleaver of Flickr

 

In my recruiting days I had a Vice President who advised repeatedly, “Refute your bias.”

Obviously there are biases that could get us in legal trouble, but she was more so referring to the more subtle biases that can make us dismiss or favor certain candidates. This advice was not in contradiction to using your intuition, but it was just a way to check ourselves before we make decisions that impact our candidates or clients.

Bias is not always bad or wrong; it is a built-in safety mechanism in which we make associations to decide if we are in any harm. It is automatic and it is human. However, now that our brain has evolved higher intelligence beyond our reptilian, instinctual brain, we can take into consideration much different input and make decisions that are more based on logic. The tricky part is recognizing which part of your brain has made the determination.

How much does bias really interfere, though? Why can it be detrimental?

Last week we talked about how critical EQ and empathy have become to corporate success. Bias, on the other hand, when not accurately and promptly assessed will impose unnecessary limits to what you can achieve with other people. This is because you are, by nature, actually limiting the population with whom you can successfully create or limiting the success that you can have with people for whom you have a bias.

It is easy to see that from a recruiting and hiring perspective, a bias will slant what the right candidate looks like, causing you to overlook someone who does not fit that image, but is the better candidate for the job.

As a job seeker, you may think that your intuition is telling you that a potential boss or co-worker is not someone with whom you could work successfully, and you may either decide to not pursue that opportunity or not to give that opportunity 100% of your effort in expectation that it will not work. This, then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Biases against the wealthy keep poor people poor. Biases against the poor have the same effect. You may have biases against generations, religions, races, genders, status, roles, opposing teams’ fans, people from a certain area, where people shop, etc.

If I continue to list these, I will eventually hit upon a bias you possess. The question is, will you recognize it? The ability to recognize and evaluate your own bias is absolutely essential to your EQ.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine if bias is impacting your perceptions, beliefs and actions, and potentially limiting your success and happiness:

  1. What HARD, TRUE evidence do I have to support my opinion?
  2. What do I still need to know and understand in order to know if I am accurately assessing this person?
  3. Could I be wrong?

Only someone with a high EQ would be willing to accurately answer #3, but just asking these questions in the first place are a great way to raise your EQ.

I would like to disclaim that I believe strongly in developing and using your intuition. I distinguish my bias from my intuition by asking these questions. However, once I acknowledge and remove bias, I lean on my intuition, which is a completely different exercise – one that I’ll save for another time.

 

How has bias impacted you?