Ever caught yourself thinking, “This candidate just feels right,” during an interview? Chances are, it’s not your razor-sharp instinct for talent, but rather an age-old friend (or foe) at play: bias. Yup, we’re all biassed. And it’s not just a ‘you’ thing; it’s a totally natural human thing.
Our Brain has ‘Old-Skool’ Wiring
Our brains are like those classic cars: vintage and hardwired for simpler times. They’re designed to make snap judgments about who’s in our ‘tribe’ and who’s not. This was survival 101 for our ancestors as it gave them the ability to make immediate ‘friend’ or ‘foe’ judgements that may just save their lives and keep the human race in existence, but in our modern, civilised world, this ancient circuitry hasn’t quite caught up…..
The world has moved on: but our brains haven’t.
We’re still living with the same innate, and sometimes very powerful, unconscious tendency to prefer people with whom we feel a natural “affinity” and it’s natural to gravitate towards people who remind us of, ….well, us. Take a look at your close friends. Notice a pattern? Often, they’re quite like us demographically. These are the “people like us” – the people we’re likely to feel more comfortable and relaxed with. And while perhaps more diverse than it might have been if you’d been living in a Victorian society, chances are it comprises a high proportion of people demographically similar to you.
“I just hire the best person for the job”
It doesn’t take a huge analytical leap to realise that this natural human tendency to gravitate towards “people like us” isn’t always going to lead to transparent and accurate evaluations about people. Especially when it comes to recruiting them into your business.
The big problem is that our subconscious, while very quick at processing information (e.g. good hair, tie, shoes, accent) can be profoundly wide off the mark when it comes to assuming other attributes on the basis of such very limited data (e.g. good sense of humour, likes beer and rugby, good with customers, perfect fit for my team).
How often, when interviewing for a job, have you shaken the hand of a candidate on first meeting them and taken to them immediately, just knowing within moments that they will be perfect for the job and for the team? Chances are this has nothing to do with your penetrating ability to spot talent in a millisecond – and much more to do with your ability to gravitate towards someone who reminds you – unconsciously, remember – of someone else who you like..
Because when it comes to hiring, all this means we might unwittingly prefer someone because they chuckle at our jokes, share our taste in music, or went to our University.
Studies galore into bias repeatedly show the same thing. These include Steinpres et al in 1999 and (more recently) Nuffield College, which have shown how deep these biases run, with evidence that applicants with male names, British-sounding names, or younger profiles often get the nod over equally qualified candidates, just because they fit the unconscious mould we’ve set.
So when you hear ‘I just hire the best person for the job’, clearly we all need a helping hand with this….
Hiring in your own mould can be very bad for business
As you might realise, far from being a good thing, there are actually significant risks in populating your business or your team with people who are very similar to you.
Filling your team with mini-mes might seem comfy, but it’s like putting all your eggs in a basket that’s… well, pretty identical to your own basket. Diversity is more than just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. Diverse teams outperform the cookie-cutter ones in decision-making, learning, problem-solving – and ultimately business success, so it’s in everyone’s interests to work towards this if not there already.
A truly diverse team is a team which realistically reflects the company’s community and / or its customer base. At the very least, it is a team that can point to having been selected from the broadest and deepest possible pool of talent, rather than a narrow stream of virtually identical candidates.
Taking the first step to change
Just simply being aware of bias and its potentially sabotaging effects is a good start: understanding that our natural tendency to be around people we can comfortably relate to doesn’t always result in the most accurate hiring decisions. Dr Helen Turnbull, an expert in unconscious bias, says that while we may never totally rid ourselves of bias, “we need to feel affinity for more people of difference” and “pay attention to our reactions” when “interacting across differences”.
If you want to find out how you can mitigate against bias in your hiring process & improve your team’s hiring overall, contact us via email@example.com or call on 020 3951 1208
Among the top complaints I’ve heard from various clients is a familiar refrain about some of their team members: ‘They’re just not delivering as expected.’
And it comes in many guises:
The ‘Promising Interviewee, Disappointing Employee’ one;
The ‘Missed Deadline for Important Meetings’ scenario;
The ‘They Should Know Where to Find Information’ assumption;
And the classic …… ‘They Should Just Know’ expectation.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the harsh truth often points in a different direction: it’s not solely on them; it’s also about you, the leader.
Communication Is Everything When It Comes To Performance Expectations
In my experience, upon probing how expectations were set, it becomes clear that 9 times out of 10, clear direction from them on what is actually required has been lacking, if not entirely absent.
I recall a manager who bluntly stated, ‘I pay them to know what to do!’. And whilst it’ might seem frustrating, this mindset overlooks a crucial aspect: payment doesn’t guarantee understanding or alignment of expectations.
The Disconnect Between Said and Understood
Fair enough you might say. You pay a wage and you expect certain standards to be delivered. But what you believe you’ve communicated, clearly might not be how your team perceives it. Effective communication involves not just stating expectations but also ensuring they are understood.
You might think that what you said had been understood by all, but how did you summarise and play it back? Did you involve them in how they might deliver what was being asked? Did you check to see that they understood what you had asked? And, crucially, did you do this in the way in which your team work best? Because each team member is likely to hear different things. What is understood by one team member, may not be understood in the same way as another as we all learn differently. Which is why you should also write things down and follow up wherever possible. Your role here is as a coach, helping them to see how they can achieve the goal in hand, providing the support (and environment) so that they can deliver with aplomb and inspiring them to want to do it.
Leaders often fall into the trap of assuming that their team members will connect the dots on their own. This gap between assumption and reality is where underperformance begins. To bridge this gap, leaders need to practice active listening, understanding the unique perspectives and challenges faced by each team member
So the person you hired that isn’t working out – could a more thorough assessment have predicted the challenges? Reflect on your briefing methods. Were there gaps in how you communicated timelines or deliverables? Self-reflection on your communication style can unveil improvements for both your team’s performance and your leadership.
There’s No One Single Way To Get Great Performance Every Time
…But there are some simple steps you can take to get your message across and make the dark art of getting people to perform and behind you a darn sight clearer:
- Set Expectations From The Outset: From up to date job descriptions to quality time during the interview process and discussing what success in the role looks like. This stage is critical.
- Support Them When They Do Join: Don’t just leave it to chance that they will ‘pick it up’. Spend time with your new recruit on a regular basis outlining what you expect from them and when. Like to be updated on a weekly basis on how the product is progressing? Tell them. Show them. Share with them how you do it. Try it all.
- Focus On WIIFT (What’s In It For Them): For you it’s probably very clear what you get out of their high performance, but What’s In It For Them? Learn what motivates them and push those buttons to get the most out of your team.
- Return The Favour: Give them feedback on how they are doing. Do it immediately and make it real. A well-timed comment along the lines of “That campaign you ran totally hit the mark in terms of coverage but the signups we were after didn’t materialise. Let’s analyse it together and see how we can do it differently next time” is far more supportive and constructive than leaving it a few months to the end of the probation to tell them they didn’t get the results you were after. You’ll have missed valuable time for them to improve and will look as though you were too incompetent to raise it beforehand.
- Keep Talking: Few people like to work in a vacuum, so keep the conversation flowing. It builds relationships. Makes giving feedback (good and bad) much easier. And makes people feel involved.
Despite spending much of my adult life coaching on the subject, I’m not immune from it either.
There’s been many times over the years when I found myself ‘tutting’ in my head when a piece of work failed to materialise or arrived half finished. At that point I have to check myself and think about what exactly I said/ did/ wrote when I communicated what I wanted. Almost every single time I realised that I hadn’t been clear about the importance of what I’ve asked for, why I’ve asked for something and what exactly I’ve needed.
For HR help, advice and all the tools you need to manage and develop your team & help you take your People & HR plans to the next level, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 3951 120
As Black History Month arrives this October, your business has a unique opportunity to engage in recognising and valuing the rich tapestry of cultures that form our shared human story. This year’s theme, “Saluting our Sisters”, serves as a potent reminder of the vital contributions Black women in particular have made, and continue to make, across myriad fields and eras.
Established in the United States in 1926, Black History Month began as a week-long celebration, spearheaded by historian Carter G. Woodson & has evolved into a month-long observance now celebrated annually in each October both in the US and here across the Pond.
The essence of the month is to spotlight the central roles and narratives of Black individuals in history, so without further ado, let’s share some of the most impressive Black women of our very own UK history:
Nicola Adams – Gold medal winner in Boxing in 2012 and 2019, Nicola has smashed down barrier upon barrier by helping to bring women’s boxing to the fore at the same time as continuing to advocate support for LGBTQ+ rights. And if that weren’t enough, she’s born and bred in Leeds, which – as we all know – is the best city in the world 🙂
Baroness Floella Benjamin (b. 1949) Trinidadian-born actress, author, and businesswoman. For many of my peer group, she’ll be forever best known and loved for her role in Play School, however Benjamin’s career in education and entertainment is extensive and she has grown into a prominent advocate for diversity in the media and has served as a member of the House of Lords since 2010.
Doreen Lawrence (b. 1952) After the tragic racially motivated murder of her son, Stephen Lawrence, in 1993, Doreen Lawrence became an anti-racism advocate and campaigner. She played a significant role in bringing about reforms in the British police service. She was awarded the OBE for services to community relations in 2003 and was made a life peer in 2013.
Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock (b. 1968) A space scientist and science educator, Aderin-Pocock has worked on numerous space projects and is a co-presenter of the long-running BBC program, “The Sky at Night.” She has been a passionate advocate for increasing diversity in the sciences.
Fanny Eaton (1835 – 1924). As a big lover of the Pre-raphaelite art moment myself, I’ve seen Eaton grace many a canvas as I was going about my studies. An influential muse of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, Eaton was a Jamaican born artist’s model and domestic worker, who sat for many paintings in the Royal Academy.
Joan Armatrading (1950-today) . West Indies born Armatrading, moved to Birmingham in her childhood and grew up to become a three time Grammy award nominee whose music influenced a generation, not to mention producing some of the catchiest tunes out there. #dropthepilot
Deborah Anne Dyer OBE (b.1967) aka Skin : In homage also to my own teenage music influences, the list wouldn’t be complete without inclusion of Skin, the lead singer of SkunkAnansie. Brixton born Skin was the first every Black music artist to headline Glastonbury and was awarded an OBE earlier this year for her services to the industry.
Olive Morris (1952-1979) A community leader and activist, Morris co-founded the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) and was an influential member of the British Black Panther Movement. She worked towards racial, gender, and social equality.
Diane Abbott (b. 1953) In 1987, Diane Abbott made history by becoming the first Black woman to be elected to the UK Parliament. She has been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since then, advocating for various social issues.
This is just a taster of some of the many influential UK based women of colour the UK designed to encourage you to research further. Why not go further however and encourage your teams to celebrate their own icons and influences in order to honour Black women’s past and present contributions?
For more information about access and how this can help you become a more inclusive organisation, contact email@example.com
Later this year,The HR Hub team will be moving up in the world, as we take part in the Three Peaks Challenge.
The race to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon (the three highest mountains in the UK) within 24 hours, is one I’m both looking forward to and with apprehension in equal measure. On the plus side, it will be great to spend some time with the team away from laptops and with the wind in our hair ( and perhaps the odd blister on our feet too….). However given that the last time I saw Scafell Pike through a window out of the back of an ambulance as I was whisked away to the hospital having suffered hypothermia was on a Silver Duke of Edinburgh exercise, I’m hoping very much that my visit this time will be with less need for medical intervention!
Notwithstanding this, the team and I are all primed and ready to start our training for the big weekend! And so how lucky we are then, that in the first month of our training for the race, that May is none other than National Walking Month – an annual campaign that takes place every May to encourage people to walk more and improve their physical and mental health – something that can only. boost our motivation to lace up the trainers.
The campaign is led by the charity Living Streets and aims to raise awareness about the benefits of walking, as well as promoting walking as a sustainable and environmentally friendly form of transport. It’s also therefore a great opportunity for you to support your team members in engaging with this & some suggestions of how to do this are shown below:
3 Weeks Challenge: Create a walking challenge for different team members to rack up the distance of the Three Peaks Challenge between them, but to be done over the remaining days are left in the month. Less sleep deprivation needed for this one that the real Challenge but still provides a sense of achievement for those who take part.
Walkey Talkey: Encourage team members to take their meetings outside and walk while they talk. This can be a great way to boost creativity and productivity, while also getting some exercise.
Happy Feet: Create a walking club within your company, where team members can get together and go for a walk during lunch breaks or after work. This can help foster a nice sense of community and support among the team as well as often getting to see parts of your city and town that you’ve never seen before!
Keep on track: Share resources to help people get started such as route maps, apps to share or trackers in order to make it more accessible & achievable for everyone.
Lead from the front: As a business owner or leader, you can set an example by prioritising your own physical activity and encouraging your team members to do the same. This helps create a culture of Unity as well as one which values and supports their team’s well-being.
For more information on how to keep your team engaged and firing on all cyclinders, drop us a line via firstname.lastname@example.org, give us a call on 0203 6277048 or pop in a diary time here.
#walkthismay #lighthtspark #employeemagic #wellbeing
Who couldn’t do with a little more happiness? Even if you have a great life and plenty of amazing people to share it with, it’s all too easy to lose sight of what’s important in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of modern living.
And that’s where the International Day of Happiness comes in! The aim of the day, which falls on Monday the 20th of March this year, is to create a happier and kinder world together by adopting a simple daily practice to be mindful, grateful, and kind.
The International Day of Happiness is a global celebration coordinated by Action for Happiness. This non-profit movement of people from 160 countries is dedicated to creating a happier, kinder world. And, thanks to the support of like-minded partners, Action for Happiness is able to spread the word while spreading happiness where it’s most needed.
The United Nations proclaimed the 20th of March to be the International Day of Happiness in July 2012, making this year’s celebration the 10th of its kind. The day came about in recognition of “the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals” and coincided with a shift in attitude throughout the world as people began to realise that “progress” should mean increasing human happiness and well-being rather than focusing solely on growing the economy. Since then, all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be more of a priority.
Happiness seems like such a simple concept. But for many people, true happiness is fleeting and fragile at best and ever-elusive at worst.
30% of the UK population suffers from at least one mental health condition, with depression and anxiety disorders the most common among these. And in any given week, around 8 in 100 people experience symptoms of depression and mixed anxiety.
Depression doesn’t always manifest with sadness, of course. It is possible to be depressed or anxious and feel happy, whether that’s in general or from time to time. But for many people, depression and its many symptoms can cause a disconnect from genuine happiness.
This can mean moments that should be happy become tinged with foreboding. Or, as is the case with people who have what’s called smiling depression, feeling forced to look and act happy despite how they feel inside.
This recognition of never knowing what private, internal battles those around us are dealing with is at the heart of campaigns such as Time to Talk Day and the International Day of Happiness. Just as mental health issues can affect our outlook, anything from invisible physical health problems to a recent bereavement or a life-changing event can mean that happiness is hard to come by. When people around us show us kindness and compassion, though, it can make all the difference.
This is why the International Day of Happiness promotes happiness as more of a group objective than an individual pursuit. And it’s also why the 20th of March is a great opportunity for you to spread some happiness in your workplace!
For those of you who’d like to celebrate the International Day of Happiness in your workplace, you can start by downloading these posters on Ten Keys to Happier Living to get everyone motivated before the main event. My personal favourite has to be this Great Dream poster though. It highlights some of the many actionable ways to live happier, more meaningful lives in a simple yet effective way.
Even if your employees are mainly remote, the free Action for Happiness app is a great tool for connecting, sharing, and inspiring you all to be happier and kinder together. Likewise, brands with an active social media following can use the hashtag, #InternationalDayOfHappiness to connect with and inspire their fans.
A quick and effective option for you and your employees to try is the three-step method on the homepage of the International Day of Happiness website. It encourages you to be mindful, be grateful, and be kind, as a way to give yourselves a boost and build your compassion for others.
Or if you’re looking for more in-depth resources, the Action for Happiness website has a huge range of videos for your team to watch at their own pace. Another option is to choose one or two videos to watch as a group and discuss. This video entitled, Work Happier could be a great place to start since it deals with ways to create happier workplaces for those around you.
I realise that dedicating a chunk of time to the International Day of Happiness isn’t going to be possible for all workplaces — especially since it falls on a Monday! But I do urge all of you to at least spread the word among your employees. The true value of any company lies in its people so it’s important to nurture their happiness as a way of creating a culture of unity, support, and kindness.
Happiness is a shared human goal that should be within reach for everyone. But it’s also a lot easier to achieve if we make an effort to be kinder to each other.
Whether you decide to take five minutes to be mindful or make a real effort to spread happiness in your life, there’s a lot to learn from the International Day of Happiness and its objectives.
Looking for tips on creating a supportive and nurturing working environment? Check out our blog for all kinds of inspiring ideas or get in touch with us here at The HR Hub to find out how we can help you make your workplace happier via email@example.com or call us on 0203 6277048.
We spend a huge proportion of our lives at work, surrounded by colleagues, clients, managers, and team members. We’re immersed in the culture of our workplaces. And if we’re a good ‘culture fit’, this can feel great. We’re empowered, challenged, and supported.
Working somewhere with a great culture allows me to perform at my best. So as a leader, I want all of my team members to feel the same way. I want to create a culture where we’re all pulling together, supporting each other, and building something incredible.
In TeamHRhub, we call this a culture of unity.
This kind of inclusive, team-based culture creates an enjoyable working experience and a healthy workplace. People who see themselves as an integral part of a team are happier and feel more fulfilled in their work.
A culture of unity also makes it easier for team members to open up about their struggles, enabling you to offer the help and support they need. This is important for both their physical health and their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Creating a culture of unity isn’t just about making people happier — it’s also a great business decision. This type of environment is inclusive and welcoming, attracting high-quality talent with ease. We also see improved staff engagement and retention, leading to better performance and output.
So, how do we create a culture of unity? Here are our 5 tips for lighting that spark…
1. Open communication
The first step is to ensure that your team members feel able to express themselves openly and honestly.
Ask yourself how your team are able to tell you about any worries or concerns they might have, and consider whether you can offer any additional paths of communication. It’s essential that you make yourself available to hear what they want to tell you.
Think about whose voice you hear. Are there any people or groups who don’t seem to step forward? A culture of unity doesn’t just rely on the ‘squeaky wheels’, so look for ways to reach out to quieter team members as well.
As leaders, we also need to think about how we respond to staff concerns. Giving team members space to speak isn’t enough. How are you showing that you’re listening? Take concerns seriously, handle them openly where possible, and give updates on your progress.
Handling today’s problems well is the fastest way to build trust for open conversation tomorrow.
2. Define your company values
The clearer you are about your company’s values, the easier it is for everyone to be guided by those values.
Everyone in your organisation should be able to express your values statement — not because they have been made to memorise it but because it’s a meaningful part of your culture.
Help make this a reality by turning abstract ideas into something more concrete. Talk about your values. Discuss what ideas like integrity, teamwork, or fairness mean to you. How do you recognise them? How can you embody them?
Having a set of values that everyone understands helps make sure that your entire team is on the same page and pulling together to achieve the same goals.
3. Hire according to these values
Everyone in your organisation contributes to your culture, so make sure that your new hires will be bringing the right mindset and values with them.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a variety of voices and different backgrounds. Far from it. We shouldn’t allow our culture of unity to become a hotbed for groupthink. Our aim is to hire diverse voices who all support our overall goal.
Avoid discrimination by hiring for culture growth rather than culture fit. Rather than asking whether someone will fit easily into your team (which can promote ‘like me’ hiring and reinforce stereotypes), give candidates the chance to show what they will add to your culture.
Discuss your values with prospective new hires. Ask questions about how they understand your mission and find out where they see room for growth. The best candidates will engage with these ideas and want to be an active part of creating a great workplace culture.
4. Put the spotlight on employee success
A great team celebrates together.
A good manager highlights the ways in which individuals have contributed to the success of projects and uses those moments to reinforce team values and unity.
Be liberal in your praise when things are going well. Talk about how their success empowers the rest of the team and/or relates to your company’s values.
Remember — the little things really do matter. Make a point of thanking team members for the little things they do every day to facilitate the smooth functioning of the team, such as staying late to finish a task that might otherwise delay a colleague.
And always share your limelight. Praise from senior management or clients doesn’t always filter down to the staff on the ground. Get used to phrases such as “it was a team effort”, “I couldn’t have done it without…”, and “my team really pulled together to get this done”.
5. Assume ownership
It’s important to share our successes, but that doesn’t mean we should also pass the buck with responsibility. When things go wrong, the best thing for team unity is to take responsibility for any errors.
Failure isn’t the time to point fingers and assign blame. It’s a chance to show your team that they can rely on you to protect them and for all of you to learn and grow.
Ownership of mistakes can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Nobody is perfect and instead of viewing a mistake or slip-up as a failure, embrace it as an opportunity for growth.
Taking ownership of any failings gives your employees the psychological safety they need to examine mistakes and learn from them. This encourages them to be more open, honest, and confident.
If you want help in building unity in your team drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0203 627 7048.