As a project manager you are expected to demonstrate team leadership qualities, aimed at enabling you to maximize the performance and best utilize the potential of your team members. It is with that in mind that it is incumbent on you to gauge the mood and vibe of your team in order to make sure all systems are operating smoothly.

Managing people is undoubtedly a challenging task, one that requires sharp eye and a set of well fine-tunes soft skills. Clearly, incorrectly reading the human map of your project will have adverse impact on your project. There are many facets to the human behavior, two traps of which I would like to focus on here.

The False Uniqueness Bias

If you think of yourself as being special, or any of your team members suggest that their performance, achievements, ideas, or indeed their intelligence is higher than the average, you’re not alone. If there is one thing we humans share with each other is our tendency to see ourselves as being unique. “In countless surveys with people from all age, education, ethnic, and socio-economic groups around the world, most report themselves to be kinder, fairer, happier, more honest, polite, generous, athletic, logical, attractive, socially skilled, and better drivers, managers, friends, lovers, and parents than the average person” (see in “Explaining False Uniqueness: Why We are Both Better and Worse Than Others“, in Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2/2 (2008): 878–894). In a project environment false uniqueness bias can  result in any number of team members ignoring key objective design parameters while over relying on their own assessment when determining the best course of action to address one or more of the project’s objectives.

The False Consensus Effect

False Consensus represents the opposite / mirror effect of False Uniqueness. In a nut-shell, False Consensus represents a situation in which a person overestimates the degree to which other people agree with him/her. In a project environment such effect can manifest itself  in a situation where a planner, designer, developer, tester (and indeed the project manager) fail to obtain an approval from stakeholders with the false assumption that a particular course of action is sure to be approved by all, or at least the meaningful majority of all parties concerned.

One final thought

As human beings we cannot guarantee our decisions will be objectively and rationally delivered. We and those around us are constantly subjected to unconscious biases which adversely affect the quality of our decisions and the validity of our actions. Being aware of these biases, while not removing them completely, allows us to pause and at least ask the question: Has our decision been affected by our innate bias or have be made the decision based on acceptable ‘objective’ criteria.

Think about it.


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