We make decisions every day in every aspect of our lives. Many people have asked me as how to have to make unbiased decisions. I have also been reflecting on this subject. Then suddenly a few incidents happen in your life and you realise that the best way to make unbiased decisions is to put yourself in the position of the person or persons for whom you are taking a decision before you decide.
This may appear simple but may be the most difficult thing to do in life. I recently came to know of an incident where a HR manager hired an employee and offered her 10 percent less salary then she was earning with her previous employer. I was stunned when I heard of this incident. When I enquired as to how this happened I was told that the employee joined a new organisation in a new place. The average salary in this place was lesser than what the employee was already earning so the new employer offered lesser salary to the potential employee stating that the market offered lower salaries.
One may argue that the contract is between the employee and the potential employer. This may be factually true but ethically wrong. It is exploiting the situation of an empoyee. We have to ask the question if we would be happy if someone did that to us. Of course, if an employee is losing a job or voluntarily taking a cut to move to a new location or market of choice then it is different. But if an employer offers a lower salary to a potential employee on the pretext of lower market wages, this could be a biased decision.
We make such decisions every day. How do we become unbiased ? Let’s take the situation in the family. We decide for our kids. Are we able to put ourselves in the shoes of our daughter or son before we decide ? Or do we decide based on our own assumptions and are least concerned on how it would emotionally impact our kids. In most situations it is the latter than the former. I am not advocating here that we need to make all decisions in favour of our kids to be unbiased. I am only stating that before we decide, if we can put ourselves in the kids’ shoes, our decision could be less biased.
The situation is not very different at the work place. We decide for our teams or our customers and suppliers as if we are least bothered about the impact of our decisions. If we are again able to empathise before we decide, it may help us to be less biased. I am aware of leaders very disappointed on getting lower increments for themselves but for the same year want to give lesser increments then even they have got for their team members and argue unabashedly that they deserve only that.
It is like advising a child to sleep on a swing without trying it ourselves as in the photo above.
It is time to realise that life is better when we are able to look at the world through the eyes of others before we look with our own eyes. Let’s try it.
S Ramesh Shankar
6th May 2019