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By Dr. Harry Tennant

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Three remedies for the self-serving bias

We humans have a habit of taking more credit and less blame than we deserve. It's called the self-serving bias. Although it may make us feel better (which is no doubt why we all tend to do it), it is also the source of errors. When we allow ourselves to use the self-serving bias, we tend to fail to see needed improvements.

It is easy to fall into the self-serving biase when we assess our own performance subjectively. Subjective assessments of our performance allow us to easily believe that we're performing just fine, even when we're not performing well at all.

So, how can we overcome the tendency to overlook errors due to the self-serving bias?

  1. Be aware of the self-serving bias.
  2. Use objective measures. Be suspicious of subjective measures.
  3. Look for opportunities to improve rather than confirmation of good performance.

The third remedy is the most important. Note that it isn't the same as saying that no matter how well you've done something, it's not good enough. That's just another subjective assessment! Instead, look for imperfections, waste and unexpected outcomes. These are specific signals that there are specific opportunities to improve...which you can then do.

The goal is not to be perfect, but to continue to get better.

Posted at 12:00 AM Keywords: continuous improvement , self-serving bias 1 Comments

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