Warning: You May Be Stereotyped in the Workplace

By September 20, 2018 October 11th, 2023 Identifying Talent

Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

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 stereotyping you need to worry aboutWhile discrimination is illegal, other instances of stereotyping occur naturally as your managers learn a little about your role in the company.

It turns out that being stereotyped in the workplace is more common than you think and based on expectations about your job performance.

A woman crouches in a cardboard box depicting a warning you may be stereotyped in the workplace How Do You Come Across?

Most everyone wants to do well in their job, but as soon as you’re seen as an expert, 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 trust you to get the job done. However, you’ll also risk 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, potentially hurting 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 don’t realize or understand how senior officers or leaders view us. The first step to avoid being stereotyped in the workplace is to recognize when it’s happening and stop it early on.

To do that, you must 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 later, that’s a red flag.

An excellent way to avoid being stereotyped in the workplace is to demonstrate that you are multi-dimensional. Look for ways to take on projects outside your expertise. Volunteer for cross-functional teams and see what other opportunities are out there. If you are passionate about learning new skills, it will be easy for your boss and her boss to see you in different roles.

Could you make sure you make your career desires known from the start? If you let your boss know your intended career trajectory, you can take on more roles that give you the needed experience. If you seem to have limited ambition, 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 because it’s comfortable, and your employer should also try to retain you. 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 avoid being unfairly stereotyped in the workplace.

Coach Dave

Dave Schoenbeck
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