People: Are Your Team Members Typecast and Stereotyped?

Many team members have been typecast and stereotyped. Usually their personality type has been compressed into four characteristics. This often happens during team building exercises. When people are typecast they are also stereotyped. This can reduce the effectiveness of individuals and teams. Why?

Team Effectiveness

When a person has been stereotyped other team members have a set perception of that person. This can result in misunderstandings and in people no longer listening to what a team member has to say. Often the underlying logic of the viewpoint is missed, and other team members dismiss the team member as simply behaving to type.

Typecasting can actually reduce communication effectiveness between team members. In extreme cases a team member may refrain from expressing a view because of fears of being pigeon holed and misinterpreted.

Individual Effectiveness

At the individual level a person’s career development can be stunted because, not only can other team members stereotype the individual, but the individual can stereotype themselves. Their self-perception and self-efficacy can be severely limited resulting in a failure to fully realise their potential.

Alternative Approach to Team Building

Taking a dynamic systems approach to team building avoids the problems of typecasting and stereotyping. A dynamic systems approach helps team members to understand:

  • How teams develop and change over time
  • How individuals grow as team members
  • How team identity develops and ways of facilitating effective team identity
  • How to understand the music behind the words – this is about meaningful communication and the blockages to meaningful communication

A dynamic systems approach treats people as mature adults rather than a small set of typical characteristics. Telling people they are mature adults is more powerful for enhancing team performance than all the typecasting and stereotyping in the world.

For more information call Dallas Burgess on +61 2 99573511 or visit:

Dallas Burgess

Organisational Psychologist

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