Affinity Bias: The Curious Case of invisible Employees

By Heidi R. Andersen, CEO & Founder of Living Institute

My mind tattoo from 2023 is undoubtedly the realization that more than 9 out of 10 leaders unconsciously segregate their teams into A and B tiers.

And the members of both groups are frightfully aware of exactly who belongs in what. What leaders often realize when we work with their affinity bias towards the B-team employees is that many are actually stellar talents gone lost in the shadow of the A-team.

Changing affinity bias dynamics

On a positive note, we were amazed to witness how easy it can be to kill these bias dynamics. In our workshops with leaders in all imaginable industries around the world, we have seen that by just becoming aware of the bias dynamics, leaders are able to integrate everyone into one high-performing team. 

In-action to reduce affinity bias is expensive

Not addressing the A-team and B-team has a ‘cost of in-action’: If the A-team and the B-team are not merged, members of the B-team are three times more inclined to quit their jobs. 

Thinking back, my mind tattoo from 2023 is how easy it is to make something really bad and super endemic go away so easily.