Management Matters: Your Bias Means Their Departure

Bias comes in all forms and shapes. I shouldn’t come as any surprise that it can be found alive and well in management offices in every sector and at every organizational level.

As the boss, there are ways to change the prejudicial way you think and examine how it could be affecting decisions you make about your employees:

  • The biggest bias is also the easiest to understand. When you think that you know what people (like your employees or your customers) want, you are making an assumption based on history, not current data. You may think that money in the prime motivator for employee retention or that a certain type of service is critical for attracting customers. Few would deny that money is a big factor in why people stay with their employers or that a certain style of service is critical to attracting your customers, it’s also true that the shelf life of knowledge is shrinking. Things shift and people change. Without accurate and up-to date information, you may see your employees leave their jobs in spite of the money you offer or watch your customers depart in spite of their previous product loyalty to the level of service they receive.
  • A kind of prejudice occurs when you believe that you know what they know. The days when the boss knew how to do every job of their direct reports is a thing of the past. There is simply too much information and it changes too fast for any one person to be knowledgeable about every little aspect of someone’s job let alone the jobs of several people. Employees usually know more in their specific area than the boss does. The manager who doesn’t realize this is missing a huge piece of critical information.
  • If the boss thinks that the employees complain and don’t appreciate that they have a job, the boss is probably guilty of the predisposition that most people are selfish. People, however, are not loyal to organizations; they are loyal to other people. Employees today are interested in “What’s In It For Them” and the boss should understand that in a world of lay-offs, reorganizations, and mergers, employees have to look out for themselves and their own career development. That’s not selfish – it’s practical and smart business. Keeping employees happy is also smart business. Thinking that people should be happy to have a job won’t motivating people who have a job; it motivates those people who don’t have a job!
  • Today’s business currency is knowledge. If the boss thinks good and loyal employees are ‘a dime a dozen,’ then the boss is sadly mistaken. To stay competitive, what’s needed is knowledgeable employees, and their loyalty needs to be cultivated over time. People are not dispensable commodities. They give your firm the ‘added value’ that separates you from your competitors.

Unhappy employees communicate with their feet and if too many are departing your employ, it may be due to your bias about them being all too clear. If you think your bias about employees might be part of a turnover problem, examine some of your ideas about your team. A change in your thinking may be the best first step in retaining talent.

Nationally recognized consultant, trainer, author and professional speaker Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management consulting practice that specializes in developing people in the areas of leadership and management, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 30 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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