Last time, we began a new series about personality in the workplace. Usually, when someone talks about personality, you’ll hear two words in particular: introversion and extraversion. Simply put, introverts are people who are energized by spending time alone, while extraverts are people who are energized by spending time with others.
Introverts and extraverts operate in very different ways, and one setting where the contrasts are most apparent is in the workplace. Unfortunately, many workplaces are set up to favor the outgoing personalities most commonly displayed by extraverted individuals. As a result, introverts are often left feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and/or burnt out in these environments.
If you want to maximise all your employees’ strengths, though, and ensure each team member is realising their potential and being the most productive versions of themselves, it’s a good idea to better understand the different management styles different personalities require.
Here are 4 tips for managing introverts in the workplace in particular:
Open-space officers can be a challenge to introverts. Because they’re easily stimulated and easily tired out by prolonged interactions with people, they need a quiet space where they can recharge their mental batteries. Google does a great job at keeping this in mind by offering napping stations for their employees when team members need silence and solitude.
Unable to provide something similar? Even just a quiet zone can work wonders for an introvert who needs a few minutes of quiet sanctuary to escape the busy-ness of a fast-paced work environment. Once an introvert has recharged, it’ll help them to be more productive for the rest of the day instead of burning out and losing traction with a project.
Circle Back to Introverts
“Colleagues and bosses need to realize that introverts often don’t know what they think immediately, and that they need time to think things through before coming to a conclusion,” says Joe McHugh, vice president of executive services at Right Management Consultants. So, McHugh stresses, it’s critical to “circle back to introverts after they’ve had some time to consider things.”
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Introverts can often come up with innovative and highly creative ideas if given the chance, but they need the time and space to do so. Don’t put your introverted employees on the spot. Circle back to them either later in the day or later in the week to see what solutions they’ve brainstormed.
Implement Writing Time
Again, introverts need time to think about what they intend to say, but this is especially the case if it’s being said in a meeting environment. Do your employees have time to review your meeting agendas before discussions begin? At Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos gives his executives 30 minutes to carefully read over the agenda and write down notes or comments before a meeting commences.
By doing so, he allows his team to formulate ideas and really reflect on what they’d like to communicate and how to communicate it effectively. Implement this strategy at your next meeting, allotting at least 10 minutes for writing time. You may very well see an improved quality of discussion, as well as more participation from your introverted employees.
Many introverts feel more comfortable expressing themselves through writing than through speech. Part of the reason why is because writing out a response gives introverts more time and freedom to structure their answers and express their ideas more clearly.
The good news is that virtual communication is on the rise in the workplace with companies like Slack skyrocketing in popularity. These programs allow team members to stay connected and collaborate, but plays to an introvert’s strengths because they’re entirely based online and are message-based, meaning employees can take all the time they need to formulate the perfect response to a colleague’s question instead of groping for the right words in real-time.
With so many different personality types in the workplace, it’s essential that leaders know how to effectively manage their team. By doing so, you’ll maximise the strengths of your people and make for a more productive environment where your employees are happy, healthy, and glad to be doing their work.