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Breaking News: Managers Tend To Stereotype Employees

How managers see their employees tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's the conclusion of a new study by Thomas Sy, assistant professor of psychology at UC Riverside and a longtime business leadership consultant. From an article about the study:
In what he describes as the first study to examine leaders' conceptions of followers, the psychologist found that "if managers view followers positively -- that they are good citizens, industrious, enthusiastic -- they will treat their employees positively. If they think of their employees negatively -- that they are conforming, insubordinate and incompetent -- they will treat them that way," he said.

Managers tend to see what they want to see, while negatively-viewed employees know they've been typecast as the bad egg of the office. So these employees stop working as hard -- thereby confirming the manager's initial doubts -- and they also start plotting their exit, which with any luck won't involve a trap door, geese and a garbage chute. Yes, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and one that's really not at all surprising to anyone who has seen it or experienced it on the job.

If all goes well, however, the employee hired today won't be the same employee two years from now. He or she will be more confident, more comfortable, more trusted, more utilized. Managers need to keep an open mind to let employees evolve, learn, grow and change to reach this point. When it doesn't happen, employees leave. It's pretty simple, really.

Well, Veruca Salt was rather unmanageable but Willy Wonka would be rather challenging to work for, so no one really wins, do they?

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