A manager suggests that stereotypes are a necessary part of working with others and it is better to rely on stereotypes than to work with someone from another culture without any idea of what they believe in. Personally, I do agree with the manager to a certain extend. “Stereotype is a means of simplifying the process of perception and making judgements of other people, instead of dealing with a range of complex and alternative stimuli”. (Mullins, L, 1996, pg157) However, relying too much on stereotypes may lead to some inaccuracies, overestimation or underestimation in real life situation. (McShane, S and Travaglione, T, 2007)
The Positive Side of Stereotypes
Stereotypes usually occur when an individual is judged on the basis of the group to which it is perceived that person belongs to. Especially when it comes to work, sometimes, in order to interact effectively, you have to make assumption of what the person is likely to think and what are some of the behaviours that they can accept. (Wiesner, R and Millett, B, 2000) As such, only stereotypes help to do that. This also explains why the manager suggests that stereotyping is necessary during work.
For example, if you are a manager and you need to meet someone from another culture whom you never met before. Usually, the first thing that you will do is to gather information about the person’s culture and develop a cultural profile. (Deresky, H, 2002)These profiles are often highly generalized. Then from the profile, this is where you will use stereotyping to make an assumption of the person’s character and his believes.
The Negative Side of Stereotypes
Stereotypes are useful as they are quite accurate in some ways. It only becomes a problem when it turns out to be inaccurate; especially those inaccuracies are negative and hostile.
A very good real life example will be me. I have been working as an assistant under my manager for over a year in a Multinational Corporation (MNC). As this is my first time working, so I never thought that I will be dealing with people from different cultures.
Then there is this project where I need to liaise with people from different countries to collect the documents from them. Of course, before I started liaising with them, I admitted that I did stereotype some people from specific cultures. For example, I always thought that Malaysians will be the easiest to work or communicate with as we have very similar culture backgrounds.
Much to my surprise, this does not apply to every one of them. Some of them are really nice whereas the others really make you want to‘re-arrange’ their faces. This is where stereotypes turn out to be inaccurate when you rely too much on them.
However, it may be much worse if I have totally no idea of what the people from different cultures will behave or believe in. This can turn out to be them having negative stereotypes towards me, which I do not wish it to happen at all. Hence, I have to learn how to go about managing my stereotype towards people from different cultures.
How to Manage Stereotypes
As you can see, diversity has becomes a business issue nowadays. Many companies are not just hiring wider variety of different people but also creating an atmosphere in which diverse groups can flourish. This is to attract and retain a skilled workforce and at the same time to create awareness of the importance of diversity management. (Greenburg, J and A.Baron, R, 2003)
As such, this has becomes a challenge for managers on how they should effectively manage different cultural diverse groups and at the same time creating a supportive environment for the women and minorities.
Usually, when different culturally diverse groups come together, they often bring preconceived stereotypes with them. This is where the manager has to step in so as to bring out the groups’ potential effectively. (L.Nelson, D and Campbell, J, 2005) Case studies have shown that there a number of...