Leadership Biases: Stop Letting Attribution Error Hold You Back - Deepstash

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Attribution Error

Attribution Error

If you spend any time around people, you’ll quickly see that while we tend to attribute our own problems to outside events, we’re happy to blame other people for similar issues.

This attribution bias, or fundamental attribution error, causes us to over-emphasize internal motivations to explain someone’s behaviour while under-emphasizing the situation factors.

We assume that someone’s actions tell us what “kind” of person they are, as opposed to considering the environmental factors that may have influenced their behaviour.

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The Easy Mental Shortcut

The Easy Mental Shortcut

Most of us are prone to attribution error as it’s a mental shortcut that keeps us from having to think too hard. It’s much simpler to blame someone’s personality than take into account all of the situational factors that may be affecting them.

We also like predictability in dealing with other people. We want to know who we can trust and who we can’t. Internal traits are relatively stable. External events are changing all the time. Attributing someone’s behavior to their personality lets us categorize that person for future events. 

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People Often Fail, But Not Because They’re Failures

People Often Fail, But Not Because They’re Failures

One of the first lessons a new manager learns is that people rarely do what you ask them to do. The second lesson is that the fault almost always lies with the manager. Ninety percent of poor behaviours tend to be a result of miscommunication.

Managers, especially newer managers, struggle to set clear expectations. They’re unpracticed in giving clear, actionable feedback. And they rarely give their team definitive priorities.

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The Checklist For The New Manager

The Checklist For The New Manager

New managers can go through a quick checklist and look at four potential causes whenever someone fails to live up to their expectations:

  • Direction — Did I clearly communicate my expectations?
  • Competence — Did this person have the skill necessary to succeed?
  • Opportunity — Did they have the time and resources necessary to succeed?
  • Motivation — Were they motivated to do it?

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The Reason For Office Incompetence

The Reason For Office Incompetence

Hanlan’s Razor states, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” 

It’s a good maxim to remember when we start thinking someone’s a jerk for making our lives difficult. But it’s just as important to remember that simply because someone does something stupid, doesn’t mean that they are stupid.

Most workplaces are no stranger to incompetence. Yet they don’t hire incompetent people. And they don’t train people to be incompetent. Nevertheless, you don’t need to look hard to find examples of dumb choices and ill-advised actions.

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Overcome Your Attribution Bias Today

Overcome Your Attribution Bias Today

  • Have compassion for everyone you meet.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Think of a time that you were in a similar situation and recognize how external factors influenced your own behaviours.
  • Instead of assuming, simply have a conversation and understand what’s really driving people’s behaviour.

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CURATED BY

antfr

Primary school teacher

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