I like reading Bob Sutton’s blog, he often links to books and writings I never would have known about if not for him. This week, he wrote about Professor David Dunning from Cornell University, who’s done some really interesting research (along with various colleagues) on self-awareness.
Some interesting insights from the Professor’s new book “Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself. ” include:“people do a pretty bad job of guessing their IQ scores, are downright awful at rating their ability to catch other people’s lies, that workers do a far worse job of assessing their own social skills than their superiors or peers, that in survey of thousands of high school seniors 70% of respondents rated their leadership ability as above average while only 2% rated their leadership ability as below average, and — turning to my own profession — that 94% of college professors say they do above average work.”
A key insight from this is … “you should be wary of self-assessments in general, but especially wary of people who seem to be incompetent. As Dunning puts it, “The central contention guiding this research is that poor performers simply do not know — indeed cannot know — how badly they are performing. Because they lack the skills required to produce correct answers they also lack the skills to accurately judge whether their own answers are correct.”
This immediately got me thinking about the average performance assessment processes in organisations. Most all of the ones I went through had some sort of self-assessment involved. If this research is true, it’s no wonder people find performance management such a thorny issue.
Another discipline that this could impact on is “expert location”, many of the methods I know of also involves some sort of self-assessment. Makes you wonder how many of the exoerts we find really are experts and how many are deluding themselves?