Warning Signs of your Action Bias, and What to do Instead.

By Jeremy Blake on May 13, 2021

Ann and I are currently developing managers in How to Coach on our Frontline Management 2 Open Programme.

Open in that anyone can pay and play, wherever they are in the world. The delegates are being very open on what they want help on.

One of the biggest challenges is moving from leading and managing people who are physically around you in the same building, to remote management.

One person expressed their real concerns on how to do this well and their current behaviours were a clear example of Action Bias. The feeling that it is best to be busy checking on people, having a high volume of booked conversations with each team member, and even with that in place they felt it wasn’t enough and they could be doing better.

People coached this individual and encouraged them to be less hard on themselves and some changes in approach will be tested.

A great outcome to a situation felt and their vulnerability shared.

Back to Action Bias. I’m sure you’ve guessed it, it’s the belief that doing something is better than waiting and doing, or not doing, something later.

To quote behavioural scientists “Action bias is particularly likely to occur if we do something for others or others expect us to act, as illustrated by the tendency for soccer goal keepers to jump to left or right on penalty kicks, even though statistically they would be better off if they just stayed in the middle of the goal (Bar-Eli et al., 2007).

It is the same for many managers; the feeling they must constantly act, call meetings, have more Zoom or Teams time, (if I had a pound for every time I hear “I’m back to back” I would be very wealthy), how are these back to backers doing any work?

Sometimes leaving people alone more, knowing what they are up to and coaching them to help them be more creative, take a risk, think broader - is valuable work and you may not need to do it as often as you think. Rather do it as often as you and they feel.

Keen to learn more and develop yourself or the managers you lead? See https://realitytraining.com/frontline-managers-part-2-%E2%80%93-open-course