Warning! You are at risk! Dangers of misjudgment about your performance threaten your position, your job and your relationships. The scoundrel guilty of this mis-guided attribution of your performance is you! That’s right. Your own lack of ability in self-evaluation threatens everything you value.
Turns out we are not very good at self-evaluation. It doesn’t matter much if it’s a marriage or business partnership, we tend to over-estimate our value. Research shows that in work groups and teams we place greater weight on our contribution compared to others. It’s just the way we’re wired. Each individual in a work group is acutely aware of her own hard work but unable to judge the hours and effort of peers, team mates or even our spouse. The magnitude of our own work is readily available to us the effort of others is not. As social scientists we call this the availability heuristic. The misjudgment associated with this availability (or non-availability) of data we call the availability bias. It’s part of the research associated with ego-centric biases and attribution error.
One example of the attribution error comes from a study of Harvard MBA students (Caruso, Epley and Brazerman, 2004). Students assigned to work groups were asked to assign a value to their individual contribution. The sum of estimates for each team should have equaled 100%. They didn’t. The sum was 139%. Availability bias.
This bias and the associated error are easily explained and seem innocuous. They aren’t innocuous. They are dangerous and put you at great risk. Self-deception leads to self-destruction. Attribution error is a form of self-deception. As all the research shows, this brand of self-deception erodes trust in others, destroys marriages and partnerships and extinguishes personal performance and achievement.
The inability to evaluate our own performance is not restricted to teams it spills over to individual goal setting and achieving. Individuals over-estimate at least three things in personal goal setting: ends, means and effort. Poor assessment of ends, means, and effort extinguish goal setting behavior. That’s why most New Years Resolutions are abandoned within the first three weeks. When we stop setting goals, making plans for goal achievement and working toward goal accomplishment, we abandon any hope of reaching our full potential.
With the research stacked against us it appears we are doomed to a life of eroding relationships and poor achievement. Not so. There is Hope! The very tools we teach our clients at Griffin Hill neutralize attribution error and keep the destructive effects at bay. Coaching and measurement are the antidotes for poor self-assessment.
Coaching is the foundation for honest and skillful evaluation. Feedback from an expert will give you a more accurate perspective. Use care in selecting a coach. Your coach should have a proven system and be skilled in its use. Feedback from an expert does not include your idiot friend whose perspective will be rife with bias and whose advice will be rich in attribution error. Griffin Hill Coaching Technology™ has helped elevate results for our clients for more than three decades. Coaching Technology™ is a proven mechanism to combat attribution error and its destructive effects.
Two illustrations of how measurement can protect you are the Griffin Hill Scorecard™ and our SMARTER™ goals. Perhaps these examples will give you ideas that will help you, though space doesn’t allow a complete explanation here (the free goal setting guide will give you a quick explanation). We use Scorecard™ to help sales people measure productivity, proficiency and performance. It is simple to use and strips egocentric biases from the evaluation process. SMART goals are great, Griffin Hill SMARTER™ goals will astonish and delight. SMARTER™ goals will help you make better decisions about end goals and help you evaluate progress toward those desired ends. SMARTER™ goals guide you to better decisions about the goal achievement process and its efficacy. It’s a great tool that will help you to honestly evaluate your effort.
Immunize yourself against the destructive effects of attribution error that threaten to destroy you. Coaching Technology™ and SMARTER™ goals are two ideas that will protect you. They will help you to lose weight, make more money and reach your true potential.