Field Report: how false memory & confirmation bias can hurt employee wellbeing.


Summary
VP of IT uses myMeeting.info to correct a false impression and an episode of confirmation bias re: the risk of isolation for a team member.

Context:
In psychology a memory bias is a cognitive bias that either enhances or impairs the recall of a memory or that alters the content of a reported memory.

How MyMeeting info was used:
During a first review of data visualisations (in which we also calibrate our algorithm to match company norms re: meetings frequency) we flagged that the VP of IT had one team member (John*) at risk of isolation (defined as not having met with any peers or supervisors for 7 days straight).

The VP challenged the data and said he distinctly remembers John being on the virtual company happy hour 3 weeks ago.

The calendar of the event supported this notion, because it showed John had accepted the happy hour invite.

However after checking the meeting dashboard for the past 3 weeks (inc. a deep dive in meeting attendance data for that event) the VP could see that John had not joined.

How this awareness drove behaviour change:
It seems this might have been a case of an initial false memory (I remember seeing John) further being supported by a confirmation bias (See, John accepted the invite) that John wasn’t at risk being isolated from contact.

Firstly, the VP immediately pinged John’s team manager, to set up a 1:1 that day and see why John has been out of touch for 3 weeks.

Secondly, HR requested we give them with a company-wide alert that notifies HR if a person misses 2 scheduled and accepted meetings in a row.

HR can now alert all team managers to investigate this issue within 24hrs.

Conclusion:
Meetings are scheduled, accepted, cancelled and rescheduled all the time. This can lead us to lose track if we actually met with a specific person or not (in particular if these are large group meetings).

Just because we recall something with a lot of confidence, detail and emotion, doesn’t mean it actually happened that way. Especially when dealing with the well-being of our team members.

Being able to align calendars, logged meeting data and personal assumptions increases our effectiveness as team leaders, because we have a more complete picture of what is and how to act on that reality.

*The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved


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