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When you think about stereotypes in the workplace, you might think about illegal discrimination by race, gender, sexuality, or other identifying factors. However, that’s not the sort of stereotyping you need to worry about.
While discrimination is illegal, there are other instances of stereotyping that occur naturally as your managers get to know a little about your role in the company. It turns out being stereotyped in the workplace is more common than you think, and it’s based on expectations about your job performance.
How Do You Come Across?
Most everyone wants to do well in their job, but as soon as you’re seen as an expert at your role, your boss will likely want to keep you in it for as long as possible. Being recognized as the go-to person for one specific thing is a subtle way of being stereotyped in the workplace.
Stereotyping in the workplace is a double-edged sword. If you’re seen as a model employee, your boss will think highly of you and will trust you to get the job done. However, you’ll also run the risk of becoming too valuable in your current position to be considered for a promotion that would change your role.
Many unenlightened executives are reluctant to give up great people to bigger or different jobs because they don’t want their team to be disrupted and potentially have a negative impact on financial performance.
This kind of stereotyping is so gradual that you might not even know it’s happening. It is common to become comfortable in a job where you are highly regarded, and risk missing a chance to learn new skills.
How to Avoid Being Stereotyped in the Workplace
Most of us don’t realize or understand how we are viewed by senior officers or leaders. The first step to avoid being stereotyped in the workplace is to recognize when it’s happening and put a stop to it early on.
To do that, you need to listen carefully to what the boss says about future jobs and what they see for your future. Be bold about asking the right questions. If your boss gives you uncertain answers or implies they’d like to see you in the same role years down the line, that’s a red flag.
An excellent way to avoid being stereotyped in the workplace is to demonstrate that you are multi-dimensional. You should look for ways to take on projects that are outside of your expertise. Volunteer for cross-functional teams and see what other opportunities are out there. If you have a passion for learning new skills, it will be easy for your boss, and her boss, to see you in other roles.
Be sure you make your career desires known from the start. If you let your boss know your intended career trajectory, you might be able to take on more roles that give you the experience you need. If you seem to have limited ambition, however, your boss will be content to keep you where you are.
Finally, you need to consider moving to another company if your career expectations aren’t being met. It’s not a good idea to stay in one role for too long just because it’s comfortable, and your employer should be making an effort to retain you as well. If you’re in one position for three years with no signs of change, it’s time to move on.
The professional impression you give off at work matters. Click on my contact form for a complimentary video call to work on some ideas to help you avoid being unfairly stereotyped in the workplace.