Management in workplaces and institutions are trusted to make sound decisions and take on leadership roles with the best interest of their employees, and overall the company, in mind. This is especially important for decisions revolving around performance management and recruitment.
However, it’s possible for some managers’ judgment to be clouded by personal perspectives or opinions.
How do these personal opinions manifest themselves?
If managers let their opinions get the best of them, these biased perspectives can manifest themselves as praise or favoritism. Often, we let bias get the best of us without fully realizing it, and unfortunately, it drives our decisions more than rational thinking.
As opposed to the halo effect, where one’s superficial qualities trick us into believing they are more capable or well equipped than they really are, the horn effect bias empowers bad first impressions.
What is the horn effect bias?
First impressions count; they stick with you and cloud your judgment; their effects fall through the surface deeper than you think.
If the first time meeting someone goes wrong or we see a few “bad” characteristics, it’s easy to automatically reject the person. The horn effect, in contrast to the halo effect, explains this rejection.
While it’s an absolutely normal phenomenon, and it does happen to everyone, it can unfortunately lead managers to underestimate the abilities and achievements of those around them.
How is this seen in the workplace?
For example, a manager who is unable to shake off a particularly bad initial impression or is quick to judge employees based on a few superficial characteristics will most likely see things in a tainted light.
This can obstruct an objective evaluation or progress reports of their employees, which can prove detrimental to the employee’s future at the company.
Judging people without fully knowing their background or history is completely normal. Due to the power, influence, and responsibility of managers, however, it’s not always fair to allow them to showcase such unreasonable biases or let them cloud their judgment and jeopardize the wellbeing of the company.
Therefore, it’s important to understand how these biases work and how to handle them in the workplace.