What Happens When Leaders Improperly Judge

Are You Guilty of Misjudging?

The fact is that we make judgments every day. We judge places, things, situations and yes, we judge people.

When used properly, judging can be very effective in assessments. We can use information, experiences, and situations to make an informed decision. Leaders may have to judge a particular situation to decide what action to take. Or they may use information about a person as to whether or not, they may be a good candidate for a position at their company. So the problem is not judging in itself.

It’s when leaders judge improperly.

Judgments can become accusations when we do not have sufficient evidence. When we use our biases instead of gathering pertinent information, we can judge a person, place or situation incorrectly. Errors in judgment can cause a great deal of harm and can be very costly for leaders and organizations.

How Misjudgment Affect Your Leadership

Misjudgment can decrease your company’s bottom-line.

In a global society, lack of diversity isolates creativity and increases the risk of group-think. When everyone thinks the same and leaders are not open to other possibilities, companies can become a relic of the past. Think about companies that no longer exist. Is it possible that those companies could still be around if they became adaptable and open to new ideas?

Misjudgment can stifle your human resource pool.

When you allow stereotypes and biases become a part of who you hire, you may miss out on hiring the best fit for positions at your company. Or you may poorly evaluate existing employees’ talents. Lack of opportunities to properly assess and coach staff suppress performance and engagement. Turnover may increase.

Misjudgment clouds the ethical climate of the organization.

On a personal level, ethical values impact judgment of what is right or wrong behavior. Correct behavior is not framed by the current rules within a society; but rather the visions of what’s ideal for the society. When leaders rely on the rules of current groups, social standards or personal gains, an organization’s culture can become toxic; affecting employee commitment and turnover (Ambrose, et. al., 2007)

How to Overcome Judging Others

1. Compliment not camouflage.
Leaders can manage the impressions they make by honing their nonverbal behaviors. Find ways to encourage employees. Compliment creates harmony and encourages assertiveness. Camouflage in the form of bias presumes one is going to battle. Avoid putting employees on the defensive.

2. Create a culture of mutual respect and collaboration
Find creative ways to communicate with your employees to create a productive and positive environment. Do not assume that employees know (or should know) what you know. Take inventory of your knowledge and then communicate what you know with the team (Nickerson, 1999). Allow opportunity for the team to share their knowledge. Create synergy by considering integrating the ideas of team members. When employees feel that they matter and their work is important to the company, engagement and productivity increases.

3. Create memories
Employees spend a majority of their lives working. Take time to get to know your employees by creating projects that allow for social interaction and positive societal change. Community projects such as habitat for humanity, picking up trash in a neighborhood, or collecting and donating toys to the Boys and Girls Clubs are some of the ways that an organization can give back to society while creating positive memories for the company. As the organization has its highs and lows, your employees are reminded of the bigger picture that they a force for good.

Making judgments is something that we all do every day. Leaders have a moral responsibility to ensure that they judge fairly. Many times leaders may only have limited to no information and may have to make an immediate decision. It is during these times that leaders must make sure that they do not allow personal bias or stereotypes cloud their judgment.

Leaders must also consider what is good for the organization as a whole and not just how the leader may personally benefit. When leadership considers whether a decision is congruent with the company’s vision and mission, the organization wins.

Ambrose, M. L., Arnaud, A., & Schminke, M. (2007). Individual Moral Development and Ethical Climate: The Influence of Person–Organization Fit on Job Attitudes. Journal of Business Ethics, 77(3), 323–333. doi:10.1007/s10551-007-9352-1

Cuddy, A. J. C., Glick, P., & Beninger, A. (2011). The dynamics of warmth and competence judgments, and their outcomes in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior, 31, 73–98. doi:10.1016/j.riob.2011.10.004

Nickerson, R. S. (1999). How we know—and sometimes misjudge—what others know: Imputing one’s own knowledge to others. Psychological Bulletin, 125(6), 737-759.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.125.6.737

Do It Now:

What biases or stereotypes do you hold? How has it affected your decision making?

Challenge your bias. Perform a search on scholar.google.com to explore what peer-reviewed evidence supports your bias. What evidence have you found? If you are unable to find evidence to support your bias, is there a possibility that you could be wrong?

What ways can you improve your decision-making skills?

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About WritingTeam

The Writing Team for Qualified Blog is led by Nancy Gettridge, founder of Phenomenal Image, a consultancy focused on helping aspiring women leaders achieve their dream careers .   Frequent point of discussion is gender bias in the workplace and solutions.  Other key topics include career  strategy, leadership, and overcoming workplace issues.  You can get weekly career tips straight to your email by subscribing here
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