The self serving bias is also known as the attribution bias in some cases. This psychological behavior is commonly found in individuals within an organization. According to these individuals, their successes are due to their own innate skills and talents. However, they think that their failures are due to external factors and not their actions.
In this article, you will mainly learn some general details about the self serving bias in organizations. We have also discussed some of the major reasons that lead to self serving bias in the workplace and also how such situations can affect the organization as a whole. Finally, we have provided a few solutions on how to avoid self serving bias and limit it in the organization.
What Is The Self Serving Bias?
According to Healthline.com,
“A self-serving bias is the common habit of a person taking credit for positive events or outcomes, but blaming outside factors for negative events. This can be affected by age, culture, clinical diagnosis, and more. It tends to occur widely across populations.”
This bias is a manifestation of how one perceives one’s own self since the person wants to maintain or improve his self-esteem. Such a bias can occur if the person always views the self always positively and always associates the self with favorable results only. They do not have the idea that although it is okay to promote one’s self-esteem, doing it at the cost of others can affect the organization heavily.
If you have a self serving bias, you will unintentionally make decisions that favor you. However, you do not realize that it can negatively affect your team or colleagues, and there can be situations when they can collectively turn against you. Furthermore, this behavior in leaders can have highly negative consequences for the team.
What Are The Major Triggers Of The Self Serving Bias?
There can be a variety of reasons behind the occurrence of self serving bias. As per the information of BetterUp.com,
“These biases have to do more with how we internalize these explanations and how they influence our future behavior. Inaccurate external and internal attributions negatively impact our locus of control. We begin to feel that we’re no longer in control of what happens to us.”
The biases can come from a variety of backgrounds, ages, gender, and scenarios. However, there are common themes and circumstances behind these biases. The reasons for the occurrence of the self serving bias are given below:
1. A high desire to build, enhance, and maintain self-esteem. There is a continuous quest to feel good about oneself. These people do not take the blame upon themselves when things go wrong but blame it on external events and others. However, they try to take full credit in case of success.
2. People who try to influence how others perceive them can also portray self serving bias since they want others to have a positive image about them.
3. Many people are averse to negativity, are extremely optimistic at times, and always try to associate themselves with good outcomes. This is due to their sheer fear of failure, as they do not own up for the mistakes they make.
How Can Self Serving Bias Can Affect A Workplace?
According to CoachHub.com,
“The self-serving bias could be detrimental to the overall psyche of the workplace. It can also affect relationships and the dynamics among individuals. It can also negatively affect self esteem and career advancement…This bias can make it hard for progress to occur in the workplace and it can breed a lack of trust.”
The following are some of the major ways through which the self serving bias affects the workplace:
1. It creates psychological insecurity among people that are around the biased individual. Others stop feeling safe around that person, as they feel difficulty voicing their opinions and feedback, let alone contradictory feedback.
2. The self serving bias reduces trust among teammates, coworkers, and managers. This is because, in such situations, it is harder for the team to provide adequate feedback on a particular issue. Furthermore, those people also start distrusting the intentions and criticism of others, as they consider it a personal attack.
3. If a person stops owning up to his/her mistakes and refuses to take responsibility, it gets hard to learn and grow. These people focus more on avoiding their mistakes than becoming better at the job by taking feedback. These situations further hinder their chances of advancing their careers.
The Best Ways To Limit Self Serving Bias At The Workplace
There are some best practices that an organization can put in place to limit self serving bias and eventually remove it from the organization with time. Here are these practices:
1. Educating Employees About Biases
Educating employees about self serving bias and other biases can allow biased individuals to reflect on themselves and others to recognize biases and combat them.
2. Allowing Members To Be Self-Compassionate
Self serving biases occur when a person is not able to accept criticism for his failure. If employees are taught to be self-compassionate at times of personal failure, this can be a really effective instrument to fight biases.
3. Enabling Protocols And Guidelines
Every organization must have some protocols and guidelines where employees, managers, and even authorities must take feedback. This will act as a challenge to their own beliefs and prejudices, and they will start reflecting on themselves.
The self serving bias is a psychological behavior in certain individuals that is found common in organizations. Such individuals take full credit for their successes but blame external factors and people for their failures. These biases affect the workplace a lot and can be detrimental to an organization’s failure, as it can break teams.
The best way to avoid self serving bias is to encourage more team play and educate employees about such biases. Do you have any better solution for how to limit self serving bias at the workplace? Share some ideas with us in the comments section below.
A passionate writer and an avid reader, Soumava is academically inclined and loves writing on topics requiring deep research. Having 3+ years of experience, Soumava also loves writing blogs in other domains, including digital marketing, business, technology, travel, and sports.