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What are Stereotypes?

Question:

Discuss about the Organisational Behaviour for Stereotypes.

A stereotype is defined as an oversimplified idea or fixed image about a specific group or class of people that is widely accepted by a significant number of people. In other words, it is a general image of a person or group’s set of characteristics or attributed which are widely accepted (Ryan and Sackett, 2013). Most people rely on stereotypes because they were taught that way about a culture or a group. Stereotyping occurs due to lack of experience that people have regarding a particular culture or a group, so they rely on stereotyping to fill the missing information about a person. Similarly, in organisations, employees and managers rely on stereotypes while communicating with people from different culture or religion to avoid making any statement that might be offensive to them. However, stereotyping did not take into consideration personal attributes of a person based on which employees can mistreat people from another culture in an organisation which can offend him and it increases conflict among employees (Kalokerinos, Von Hippel and Zacher, 2014). In order to address this issue, companies implement organisational behaviour theories. Organisational behaviour is a study of people’s interaction within a group which assist management in improving their efficiency and establishing a positive working culture (Miner, 2015). This essay will analyse what stereotypes are and why people use them in an organisational setting. This essay will analyse the impact of stereotyping at a workplace and evaluate how it affects employees’ performance. Further, various recommendations will be provided in the essay for minimising stereotyping at the workplace by using different organisational behaviour theories.

The human resource department in organisations focuses on establishing a supportive working environment that effectively manages diversity among different employees. The companies are becoming more global which increases the requirement for diversity management. Roh and Kim (2016) provided that the diversity management is referred to the strategy which is used by a corporation for creating an inclusive and diverse workplace. Effective diversity management policies ensure that people from different cultures, background, religion, gender and caste are able to work together and support each other’s’ actions. However, stereotyping at a workplace leads to increasing disputes and conflicts among employees. Human nature is distinct from one another, and people have different attributes that differentiate them from others. But, stereotyping relies on an oversimplified image of a group or class of people based on specific characteristics (Li, Bagger and Cropanzano, 2017). People feel offended if they are judged based on stereotypes rather than their personal characteristics. In organisations, managers rely on stereotypes due to its merits. The advantage of stereotyping is that it enables people to rapidly respond to specific situations because they have a similar experience before. In an organisational setting, leaders can rely on stereotypes while communicating with other employees so that they are able to relate to them without even knowing them. Tran and Vu (2016) argued that stereotyping enable people to fill the missing information regarding a person based on characteristics of a group or culture from which he/she belongs to. Stereotyping helps leaders when they communicate with workers from different cultures because they can rely on stereotypes and ensure that they did not make any remark that might offend them.

Stereotyping in Organizational Settings

However, in organisations, stereotyping can have a negative impact that reduces employees’ productivity and raise workplace disputes. There are a number of limitations of using of stereotypes at the workplace. Guillaume et al. (2017) stated that stereotyping puts labels on individual and make general assumptions about them without having any personal knowledge about them. Stereotypes are good as long as they are correct, however, incorrect stereotyping can have serious negative consequences. If a leader judges or make a remark based on an untrue stereotype about an employee, then it can offend them. The issue with stereotyping is that it makes leaders ignore the difference between each worker due to which they think things about people that are not true. Based on stereotypes, leaders can take business decisions that can affect its effectiveness. As per ‘Big five model of personality’ theory, managers can divide employees based on their personalities and implement appropriate organisational behaviour theories to improve their performance. The theory provides five different personalities which include extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience (Walker and Vetter, 2016). However, critiques have argued that human nature differs as per each person and it cannot be categorised into five groups. Based on stereotypes, managers can make general assumptions about a person’s personality and make policies for improving their performance. However, without the knowledge of personal attributes, a manager cannot judge a worker’s personality hence the policies will fail to motivate them. As per Equity theory of motivation, if an employee did not receive expected output based on his/her inputs, then it can negatively affect his/her productivity (Ryan, 2016). Similarly, if managers promote employees based on stereotypes rather than performance, then it will result in reduced the performance of other employees.

There are a number of reasons based on which managers should make appropriate policies to minimise or eliminate stereotyping from the workplace. Lack of policies for avoiding stereotyping at the workplace can cause conflict among employees since they might mistreat each other based on stereotypes. Conflicts create a negative working environment in which it is difficult for employees to work and achieve organisational objectives (Flanagan, 2015). On the other hand, it also increases attrition rate of employees since they are more likely to switch jobs rather than working in a negative working environment. Therefore, stereotyping has a direct negative impact on a company and employees performance which reduces its effectiveness. In order to avoid stereotyping, many organisations take strict actions against people who braches diversity policies or take business decisions based on stereotypes. For example, it is a common misconception that women are not good leaders, however, corporations are taking steps to give women employees more senior level managerial position in order to eliminate stereotypes. Harley Davidson is a good example; over 25 percent of firm’s workplace includes female employees, and they implement appropriate policies to promote equal growth and avoid stereotyping (Barrett, 2015). Google Incorporation also takes stereotyping very seriously and takes corrective actions against people who breach diversity management policies. For instance, the CEO of the company, Sundar Pichai, recently fired an engineer, James Damore, based on an anti-diversity memo issued by him which argued that men are superior to women (Kovach, 2018). The actions of these corporations show how important it is for companies to implementing effective diversity management policies for avoiding diversity in the workplace in order to improve employees’ performance and establish a positive working environment.

The Negative Impact of Stereotyping at Work

There are different actions that can be taken by management in order to avoid stereotyping at the workplace. For example, one of the primary reasons for stereotyping is lack of experience; therefore, management should provide diversity training to employees and managers to teach them about different culture so that they avoid making assumptions. Similarly, managers should avoid making assumptions while communicating with employees which encourage other employees to improve their behaviour as well. The senior level management should also implement strict policies against stereotyping so that employees did not use stereotypes while communicating with others (Duguid and Thomas-Hunt, 2015). It will also assist in reducing stereotyping during recruitment and selection process and it will also ensure that employees are promoted based on their performance rather than stereotypes. The management can implement organisational behaviour modification: attitudes and behaviour theory of organisational behaviour that focuses on altering employees’ attitudes and behaviours to align them with corporate objectives (Walton, Murphy and Ryan, 2015). It uses technology and new found knowledge regarding human behaviour to influence employees’ decisions. There are five steps in this theory which include identification of issues, measuring of behaviours, establishment of triggers, development of strategies, and evaluation of effectiveness of policies (Schmader, Hall and Croft, 2015). Based on this model, managers can ensure that while communicating with each other, employees did not use stereotypes. It will assist in establishing a positive work environment in a corporation which will increase employees’ performance and firm’s profitability.

In conclusion, stereotypes are referred to an oversimplification of characteristics or idea regarding a group or class of people that is widely accepted by a significant number of people. In organisations, managers and employees use stereotypes because it assists them in filling incomplete information regarding a person from different culture while communicating with him. However, stereotyping has a negative impact on a corporation because it increases workplace conflicts which reduce the performance of employees. It also results in increasing attrition rates of employees and management finds it difficult to retain employees because they did not prefer to work in a hostile environment. Therefore, stereotyping is a serious issue that affects a firm’s profitability, and the management should implement appropriate policies for avoiding stereotyping at the workplace. The management can take different actions to avoid stereotyping in the workplace such as providing diversity training to employees and managers, so they learn about other cultures and avoid making assumptions while dealing with employees from different cultures. The management can also implement strict policies against the use of stereotypes so that employees avoid using stereotypes while communicating with others. These policies can minimise or eliminate stereotyping in the workplace and establish a positive working environment which encourages employees to achieve common organisational objectives.

References

Barrett, R. (2015) Harley courts women and young riders. [Online] Journal Sentinel. Available at: https://archive.jsonline.com/business/harley-courts-women-and-young-riders-b99431331z1-289674181.html/ [Accessed 13th April 2018].

Duguid, M.M. and Thomas-Hunt, M.C. (2015) Condoning stereotyping? How awareness of stereotyping prevalence impacts expression of stereotypes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(2), p.343.

Flanagan, J. (2015) Gender and the Workplace: The Impact of Stereotype Threat on Self-Assessment of Management Skills of Female Business Students. Advancing Women in Leadership, 35, p.166.

Guillaume, Y.R., Dawson, J.F., Otaye?Ebede, L., Woods, S.A. and West, M.A. (2017) Harnessing demographic differences in organizations: What moderates the effects of workplace diversity?. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38(2), pp.276-303.

Kalokerinos, E.K., Von Hippel, C. and Zacher, H. (2014) Is stereotype threat a useful construct for organizational psychology research and practice?. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 7(3), pp.381-402.

Kovach, S. (2018) Google CEO: We didn't fire the diversity memo writer for political reasons. [Online] Business Insider. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.in/Google-CEO-We-didnt-fire-the-diversity-memo-writer-for-political-reasons/articleshow/62575911.cms [Accessed 13th April 2018].

Li, A., Bagger, J. and Cropanzano, R. (2017) The impact of stereotypes and supervisor perceptions of employee work–family conflict on job performance ratings. human relations, 70(1), pp.119-145.

Miner, J.B. (2015) Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge.

Roh, H. and Kim, E. (2016) The business case for gender diversity: examining the role of human resource management investments. Human Resource Management, 55(3), pp.519-534.

Ryan, A.M. and Sackett, P.R. (2013) Stereotype threat in workplace assessments. APA handbook of testing and assessment in psychology: Test theory and testing and assessment in industrial and organizational psychology, 1, pp.661-673.

Ryan, J.C. (2016) Old knowledge for new impacts: Equity theory and workforce nationalization. Journal of Business Research, 69(5), pp.1587-1592.

Schmader, T., Hall, W. and Croft, A. (2015) Stereotype threat in intergroup relations. APA handbook of personality and social psychology, 2, pp.447-471.

Tran, L.T. and Vu, T.T.P. (2016) ‘I’m not like that, why treat me the same way?’The impact of stereotyping international students on their learning, employability and connectedness with the workplace. The Australian Educational Researcher, 43(2), pp.203-220.

Walker, M. and Vetter, T. (2016) Changing the personality of a face: Perceived Big Two and Big Five personality factors modeled in real photographs. Journal of personality and social psychology, 110(4), p.609.

Walton, G.M., Murphy, M.C. and Ryan, A.M. (2015) Stereotype threat in organizations: implications for equity and performance. Annu. Rev. Organ. Psychol. Organ. Behav., 2(1), pp.523-550.

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