Bias isn’t just something that happens within a person. It also happens between people — namely, in meetings.
Without meaning to, people at the head of the table routinely make mental shortcuts that save time, but also may impair decision-making. This expedience may feel good, but teams and organizations may ultimately suffer from the scarcity of input.
The key to holding less biased meetings is diversity, a premise we explored in a recent Corporate Membership article called “How Diversity Defeats Groupthink.” The piece uses tested research to show how more diverse teams can cut through bias and improve decision-making.
We’ve posted an excerpt below, featuring five strategies to help leaders change their behavior and incorporate greater diversity of thought.
1. Bite your tongue when you’re in charge
As a leader, you naturally want to share what you know. But it’s important not to bias the discussion with the influence you wield. Next time you find yourself wanting to broadcast your opinion at the outset, remember to hold back until others have weighed in.
2. Solicit contrary perspectives
People naturally want to get along, but that can make dissent feel unwelcome. Next time you sense team members hesitating to speak their minds, remind them it’s OK to disagree. The goal isn’t harmony, but good decisions. But you need to rotate the role of contrarian, so that it becomes a habit that people can employ.
3. Amplify quiet voices
Bad decisions happen when team members keep their doubts and reservations to themselves. Next time you notice a discussion being dominated by a few vocal personalities, make a point of calling on those whose voices haven’t been heard.
4. Run the scenarios
One way to defeat conformity is to change your time horizon. Next time your team’s plans start feeling too rosy, try projecting yourself into the future, running through scenarios and thinking through what could go wrong. Shifting your perspective can inject an important dose of reality and help you see through misplaced optimism.
5. Switch it up
The more time you spend as a team, the closer you get. This camaraderie can be fruitful, as team members begin to share the same language and behaviors. But, dangerously, they can also think like each other. Next time that happens, make a point to shake things up. Swap in new people on the team, and shuffle roles. Change can be bittersweet, but it will help keep your team nimble and sharp.