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Challenge your approach to developing employees

Each of us can learn to recognize and examine our biases, assumptions and stereotypes to support a more equitable approach to supporting and developing others.

When planning development activities for your team

  • Who do you select… to coach, propose for mentoring, to attend a networking event, for high-profile assignments? Is there a pattern? If so, why is this the case?
  • How could your choices affect any less supported individuals – and their interest and ability to develop and advance?
  • What mutual benefits could arise from supporting someone you may not necessarily think of?

When working with a colleague

  • Would I take a different approach to supporting this employee if they were “more like me” in terms of personal characteristics, job type or location e.g. the method of frequency of providing feedback? How often and how should I recognize successes?
  • What bias (beliefs, stereotypes and assumptions) might be in the way of my providing excellent support to this employee?
  • When recommending activities, does the content and timing align with the individual’s personal beliefs, does it conflict with timing of key cultural observations, would any accommodations make it more accessible—and impactful?

Provide inclusive feedback

Be conscious of and consider the following:31

Language, tone and expressions

If you’re giving feedback to someone whose first language is different than yours, be conscious of analogies, metaphors, jokes, or sport references that may not translate.

Be ready to provide additional explanation depending on whether the individual did not react or reacted more strongly than intended.

How you relate to the giver or receiver

Does your approach differ when you are giving feedback to someone that you feel you can relate to or identify more with?

Are you unconsciously giving some people the benefit of the doubt, while looking for more justification from others?


What assumptions are you holding that are affecting what you see, how you perceive it, and how you deliver feedback on it? E.g. when an employee is consistently late to work, your unconscious bias, drawing on societal stereotypes, may lead you to question that person’s commitment—whereas in reality, they are caring for a sick parent.

Check in to make sure that your feedback is grounded in facts and observable behaviours.

Managing bias in performance reviews

  • Write reviews of similar lengths and structures for all employees. This helps ensure a similar level of detail, and therefore of specifics, for everyone.
  • Recognize different approaches to achieving goals (e.g. more introverted employees may pursue a “quieter” approach than more extroverted employees).
  • Use multiple sources of evidence (e.g. feedback from mentors, co-workers, etc).
  • Ask a colleague who knows the employee to validate your assessment.