• Abhishek Singh

Oh No! Dunning Kruger effect bringing down team motivation.

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

This happens more often than we like it. It's a beautiful bubble that the person experiencing Dunning Kruger does not want to come out of because they find it awesome inside, while the ones watching from outside are cognizant of the "burst" that is moments away and may hurt many of us.

Astutely mentioned in this post that

The theory is also commonly known as ‘Mount Stupid‘. According to the Urban Dictionary, Mount Stupid is ‘the place where you have enough knowledge of a subject to be vocal about it, without the wisdom to gather the full facts or read around the topic‘.

Dunning Kruger effects, even more, when it happens at the workplace. Stakes are high, errors will mostly lead to some form of direct/indirect economic damages, depletion in team enthusiasm, and infrequently team harmony too. These are undesirable scenarios and it's in everyone's best interest to work diligently to avoid such scenarios. For the rest of the blog, we want to exclusively focus on workplace & corporates and will be sharing research, strategies & anecdotes in regards to the same.

But the big questions are:

  1. What are all the areas we are seeing Dunning Kruger effect?

  2. What do we do to substantially minimize this?

Let's share some strategies around this based on what is covered in the scientific literature on this and some anecdotes.

How we can escape this menace.

First, understand what Dunning Kruger effect actually is:

It's important that we approach this more empathetically to get a better grasp of the topic. Nicely explained this paper, That subjects who demonstrate this inability don't rate themselves higher than the top performers but rather rate themselves higher than what their core capabilities are actually are.

Reasons range anywhere from being honest to yourself about shortcomings, failures to imperfect evaluation tests that make less-capable people overestimate their abilities. This is definitely a solvable problem with the right emotional intelligence and with the help of empathetic coaches/mentors who want you to succeed.

Be aware of the core skills needed for this role/responsibility:

Intelligently noted in this excellent post by the original researcher Professor Dunning. He quotes that “The knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task—and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at that task.”

Sometimes it is easy to understand the core skills needed for a particular, but sometimes it's not. In this case, it is important that we proactively speak with our colleagues/managers/mentors so that we have a better understanding of both hard & soft skills necessary for the same. It's a boon and a solid advantage to learn this earlier in the curve. It also makes complete sense to get guidance & micro-mentoring from external people who have been successful in their field and are willing to see you grow.

Once people are aware of the core knowledge/responsibilities for the position they are at the firm, it becomes easier for them to double down on the requirements and excel at what is expected of them. Communication and curiosity are essential here.

Built Metacognition abilities:

The ability to step-back and introspect our own performance is very critical. Often times mood, bias, interests, awareness interfere with cognition and making it harder for us to contribute to our own growth. This is not just gloomy but also very concerning.

It absolutely makes sense to take help, feedback of family/friends/acquaintances but we should not feel limited to our personal network. Great coaches can also add tremendous value here. This is exactly where Headstrt shines, by letting you discover & partner with successful people who are willing to share their wisdom with you.

Coaches/Mentors, play a great role when it comes to bursting blindspots and validating assumptions. This is important as these are things that we sometimes miss ourselves as a part of this problem.

"It is one thing if you won’t admit it. It is something else if you don’t even know it."— Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza),

Final Takeaways

Many of us demonstrate different degrees of Dunning-Kruger based on mood, people, subject, and situation. Although it is an urgent problem but it is a solvable one. Accepting, Identifying, and working towards the same is the best resolution and we don't have to do it alone.

Thanks so much for reading and let us know what you think of this.

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