Judging and Labeling Go Beyond the Workplace

Do you the #1 mistake managers make when criticizing employees? You might be surprised that we are quick to label or judge them. My YouTube video explains this in more detail. Meanwhile, let me explain we tend to label employees, how can avoid it, and if there if this is a bigger societal problem, at large.

Why do you suppose we tend to label employees?

Bosses and entire organizations tend to label employees as good and bad, competent and incompetent, promising or unpromising, considerate or inconsiderate.   We label people simply because it’s quicker and easier.  Putting folks in categories takes less time and effort than considering the whole of them.  It’s rare to hear someone refer to a colleague or direct report as “very competent in project management responsibilities but less competent in sales ability.”

How can we avoid this generalization?

We can avoid making sweeping, general statements about people by stopping ourselves for a moment or two before we speak about them.  Pause long enough to think about and offer several observations related to an individual—not just one.  You may say something like:  “I find John to be unusually intelligent, creative, and thoughtful.  While he’s a great asset to our team, he seems to struggle with getting to work on time a couple of days each month.”  This approach is very different from saying “John is a tardy employee.”

Do you think labeling or judging others is a societal problem? If so, do you have any advice to help us begin to change our way of thinking?

Yes.  I do think our society judges others harshly and labels them freely.  This common habit is unfair, and it can damage people.  Think about it.  If your boss labels you as “inadequate, uncaring, or stupid”, what effect does that have on you?  Most likely, it cuts to your core.  It causes you to question yourself and your character or abilities.  It triggers a lot of self doubt.

This doesn’t serve you well.  And it certainly won’t serve the company well either.

What your boss needs to say to you is something like this:  “I am disappointed in your project results.  They don’t meet my expectations.  Usually you deliver exactly what I need, but this time you fell short.”  Do you see how this differs from calling you “inadequate” or “stupid” which implies an ongoing trend or theme?




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