For background, I work in a small tech company (~30 people) in the United States, and I have 12 years of experience in my field. I lead (but do not manage) a team of less experienced people in my field. I am the most experienced person in my field at my company. My manager has a different set of skills, and does not work on projects along side members of my team.
I've been with my current company a little over 3 years. Over the course of that time, I've become increasingly aware that my direct manager has two unhelpful traits.
- They form very strong opinions about things without a lot of evidence to support it, and maintain a strong hold on those opinions even when presented with contrary evidence
- Their evaluation of people's performance seems to be highly influenced by if they like or dislike that person's personality
To me, these traits seem pretty clear examples of cognitive biases; specifically a combination of confirmation bias, belief revision bias, and affinity bias. We all have cognitive biases, and we're all relatively blind to our own. But I've not worked with anyone who has exhibited them as strongly as my manager.
They mean well, but they're unaware of these biases, which are impacting me and my team.
I'm very proud of one member of my team's work. Call them Team Member A. This person has learned a lot over the past few years, is a hard worker, and successfully synthesizes knowledge from many different domains to inform their work. However, my manager thinks they're undisciplined and slow. This opinion can be traced back to Team Member A's first project with us, where they spent more time on tasks than my manager thought they should. Despite all subsequent projects going better and my efforts to advocate on their behalf, my manager still has this opinion, and I believe it's holding back Team Member A's advancement in the company. I know this because my manager and I discuss the development of members of my team. Also, Team Member A is introverted, and my manager is extroverted and enjoys the company of extroverts more.
Team Member B is also a hard worker, but has trouble synthesizing knowledge from different domains to inform their decisions, and has a narrower skillset than Team Member A. Overall, they're less able to contribute to the success of projects. However, Team Member B is gregarious and extroverted. My manager hired them into a higher role than Team Member A, and seems eager to continue to advance them, despite my advice that they need to grow their skills in certain areas first.
Team Member C has been struggling with some aspects of the job, despite my best efforts to help. I meet with them often to help them prepare, but sometimes that preparation doesn't stick. My manager has seen this and assumed that I've been neglecting to help Team Member C prepare. When they spoke with me about it, I told them otherwise, and even shared the dates and times I met with Team Member C. But that didn't seem to make an impact on the opinion that I was neglecting to help Team Member C. We're growing as a company, and I feel like this will negatively influence my advancement. I'm also introverted.
I generally enjoy working at this company, and don't think my manager is a bad person. How do I tactfully mitigate the effect of my manager's cognitive biases? I don't think a direct and honest conversation about it would be received well, but I also don't want to do nothing about it.