Humans operate using categories, in the form of stereotypes and other frames of reference to navigate our personal and professional lives. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to attempt to process, let alone understand, the now 11 million bits of stimuli coming our way at any given moment.

This protection mechanism initially developed as a way for early humans to quickly distinguish between friends and enemies. Even with this biological shortcut, we’re still at a disadvantage given the changing landscape brought about by the Information Age.

Our grandparents saw as many people in one month as we do in one day.

As a result, our innate biology struggles to keep up with this avalanche of data.

The challenge is that oftentimes, in light of our biology, we miss out on the whole story. We neglect what might be crucial pieces of information and end up with a completely different reality than maybe it should be. Each individual has their own filter through which they experience the world, for better and for worse.

This unconscious bias is human. We’re guilty of it daily; it’s evident in how we run our businesses. Mindtool states, “Many organizations are so focused on their processes that they lose sight of their people.” We get so caught up in managing information coming from every which way that we forget about the people keeping the lights on. Yet, we still need to hire, train, and develop people to be successful in their jobs. The answer is the obvious one: focus on people.

Is your company meeting your peoples’ core needs? (See the NYT article and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for some discussions about what these look like.)

Are you providing platforms for people to explore their greatest strengths and engage in their work according to these strengths?

Remember, when your natural behaviors match your job’s behaviors, you’re more likely to be happy at work. And don’t forget, happiness yields productive employees.

Contact Sara at ssalam@sdleadershipinstitute.com to learn more.

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