The Talent Review meeting is the core of any succession planning process.
It's the meeting at which managers and HR discuss the talent pool, up and coming vacancies, the readiness for progression and where the succession gaps and risks may be. You need up-to-date and accurate talent information, but you also need – a team aware of their biases and knowing how to mitigate these.
This article gives an insight into some of the psychological biases we all are subject to. If we're aware of these, perhaps we can start to minimise their impact on our decisions. Psychological bias comes in many forms. Here are ten common errors in human thinking:
1. Confirmation bias
This is the bias that encourages us to downgrade (or overlook) evidence or information that contradicts our preconceived ideas. It makes us actively seek proof that we’re right, because, after all, none of us like to prove ourselves wrong!
2. The Halo effect
This comes into play when we hold a positive opinion about someone, or we allow a single strong attribute to colour our view of him or her. For example, if someone is competent in their current role, we might assume they have potential for greater things.
3. The Horns effect
This is the opposite of the Halo effect. In this instance, we allow a negative view or experience of someone to taint our perceptions of other aspects of their performance.
4. Anchoring bias
This bias comes into play when we are consciously (or subconsciously) giving things a greater weighting than they actually merit. For example, we might rely too heavily on one piece of information when making a decision.
5. Bias due to loss aversion
This is our tendency to protect ourselves against loss or to veer away from risk. In terms of the workplace, such a bias might encourage managers to protect their own teams.
6. Bias thanks to self-interest
This is the bias that comes to play when a decision maker veers towards decisions or solutions that will result in greater gain for them personally. This could be seen in a situation such as a manager holding on to good people or promoting those they personally hired.
7. Affect heuristic
This bias makes us minimise the risks associated with people or options that we like. It works the other way too: if we don’t like someone or something, we tend to overstate the downside.
8. Groupthink bias
Groupthink bias is the tendency for a group or an individual to converge on a decision or a suggestion that has the most support, even if it is flawed. This is something to be keenly aware of when discussing in a group a talent pool.
9. The ‘what you see is all there is’ assumption
We all have a tendency to overlook the importance of information that’s not easy to come by, so we construct our own narrative and ‘fill in’ the gaps.
The conservatism bias can lead us away from having strong opinions. For example, we might unconsciously restrict ourselves to the middle scores on a performance-rating scale, or when discussing high potentials, or we might underestimate the abilities of people in our team.
Bias can be a barrier to robust succession planning and all those taking part need to be aware of their own biases, and how to reduce them. There is more detail in the slide set below.