Leadership & Management
Managing Introverts in the Workplace
January 30, 2020
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For every extrovert in the world, there’s an introvert. Introverts arguably get a bad rap – they’re seen as loners, quiet and bad at speaking up for themselves. These stereotypes have some small basis in reality, but they rarely reflect the full truth. After all, every introvert is different and everyone has a mixture of both introversion and extroversion. Carefully managing introverts in the workplace is essential to building team resilience.
The primary characteristic of introverts is that they generate energy when they’re able to spend time on their own. Social engagements and settings drain an introvert of her energy. As a result, too much time spent around a group of extroverts or working in a social setting may leave your introverted employees feeling worn out and at risk of burnout.
With that in mind, how can you ensure that your introverted employees not only remain productive, but also thrive in your office?
Give Your Introverts Space
Introverts often need time to pull their thoughts and ideas together. They’re not always going to be able to respond to proposals issued in the midst of a meeting or even in the immediate aftermath. As a result, you may need to build additional time into your work schedule. Let your more introverted employees mull over the ideas you’ve shared with them and, in turn, share their own responses at their own pace. You can still hold them to deadlines, of course, but by providing them with space to think, you’ll garner more comprehensive responses.
Do note that this strategy does make room for emergency meetings and rush jobs – but that you’ll have to make your scheduling expectations clear from the get-go. An introverted employee who’s had time to think over a project will be able to deliver more comprehensive projects and results to their team or client.
Let Your Introverts Enjoy the Quiet
Extroverts often thrive in open-office concept work spaces. Introverts, comparatively, may find the exposure of an open office space overwhelming. That’s because introverts do their best work when the world is quiet. With the help of a little background music or noise, they can produce amazing results.
How, then, can you balance the needs of your introverts with the needs of your extroverts?
When it comes to the noise level in your office space, find a way to compromise. If you have an open office plan, consider giving employees the option of working in nearby cubicles. Alternatively, if you have a cubicle-based setup, make room around the office where your introverts can spend time solo. Managing introverts in the workplace, as well as managing overall team dynamics, is all about balance. And while achieving effective team dynamics can be challenging, it’s an essential building block for high-performance teams.
Experiment With Alternative Methods of Communication
Meetings are a great way to bring the people in your office together. They make conversations easier and keep work flowing. That said, not all of your employees are going to benefit from constant meetings. Introverts, in particular, may end up drained of social energy if you draw them into frequent meetings.
This is where email and instant messaging platforms like Slack come in handy. Instead of calling a group meeting to discuss a project, why not chat with the group members via your preferred group chat? Introverts will benefit from the indirect social interaction. They’ll also have more time to think up a response to any ideas you send their way.
The use of non-conventional means of communication, then, can help your introverted employees stay in the loop while also protecting their productivity.
Celebrating Introverts in the Workplace
Last but not least, note that your introverted employees won’t often talk about their successes in front of others. Many introverts prefer to let a project’s success speak for itself and will downplay their own contributions to it.
While you don’t want to embarrass your introverted employees, make an effort to let them know that they’re appreciated and essential. Work on practicing gratitude with “shout-outs” and other forms of recognition. This kind of appreciation will drive your introverted employees to continue improving while also letting them know that you’re keeping their preferred work style in mind.
Most importantly, get to know all of your employees as individuals and learn what methods of management suit each one best. With a little bit of give and take, you’ll keep your office productive, regardless of your employees’ preferred style of engagement.
Want useful tips like these for the extroverts in your work orbit? Check out our companion article on managing extroverts.