An effective manager of people in the workplace understands that an essential aspect of effective leadership is recognizing individual strengths and weaknesses and harnessing character and personality traits for maximum efficiency. For example, introverted people require a unique, patient approach.
The most effective way of managing introverts must include a healthy respect for time and space. Introverts are typically quieter and more methodical in their approach to tasks. Understanding this and providing the necessary scope in the workplace will ultimately harness their most significant potential.
Due to their inherently quiet, reserved nature, introverts are often falsely mistaken for being unfriendly, arrogant, or aloof. It is, therefore, essential to understand this when managing introverts in the workplace.
Read on for more tips on managing introverts!
Managing Introverts in the Workplace
Introversion is a tendency to focus inwards on personal ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Therefore, external events are less attractive to introverts. They also prefer spending time with one or two people instead of mingling with large crowds.
According to legendary Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, introverts can be subdivided into four main categories; social, thinking, anxious, and restrained. Most introverts are deemed to be a combination of any of the main categories.
Good management practice includes expending time and effort to understand your employees. A healthy and happy working environment is the best way to ensure that your staff are loyal and committed and give their best efforts to the task at hand.
Here are some handy tips.
1. Find the Right Person for the Right Job
Introverts will thrive when placed in positions requiring minimal interaction with others, specifically large groups. Solitary thinkers and focus-driven introverts usually display the discipline and independence of thought necessary to pursue detail-oriented careers.
It is, therefore, no surprise that introverted job seekers will usually pursue highly skilled careers in design, technology, and the arts. However, high-energy jobs requiring a lot of social interaction, such as customer support or sales, may be too overwhelming and draining for introverts.
2. Give Introverts Time to Think
Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Introverts are methodical and introspective and therefore need time to nurture their ideas. Refrain from crowding them with too many tasks simultaneously and expecting quick-fire responses. Introverts will come up with the best and brightest ideas if they are given ample time to gather and process all the data required to carry out tasks.
3. Respect their Space
Introverts are often easily distracted by outside stimulation. They will react and lose focus when the space around them is too noisy or chaotic. These disturbances can easily negatively affect productivity.
In modern open-plan office environments, provisioning for a closed office can be challenging. Place an introvert in a cubicle or corner space and away from crowded areas or where there is too much human activity. If there is no possibility for a private working space, provide regular breaks that allow a timeout for the worker. Create a quiet area in the office for employees to relax and gather their thoughts.
4. Silence is Golden
Introverts tend to think and choose their words carefully before speaking. They are usually quieter than average and communicate sparingly. Please don't take this the wrong way. They have no intention of being rude or hostile. It takes time to come up with something important or valuable to say.
In group discussions, give special attention to introverts. They usually won't be the first to speak up when broad questions are raised. Keep the extroverts in the group from crowding out the introverts. Try posing questions directly at the introverts and give them the opportunity to speak out. Where staff input is critical, create feedback sessions that allow for one-on-one meetings or email responses.
Effective personalized channels will give introverts a more private, intimate opportunity to participate in sharing ideas or feedback.
5. Watch Out for Office Bullies
Quick-witted and vocal, the extroverts in the office will sometimes try to dominate or intimidate the introverts. Never tolerate this. Instead, nurture a working environment where individual personality types are acknowledged, and people are treated with humility and respect.
In some cases, introverts may appear nerdy or lack proper communication skills due to their shyness. It could be that they suffer from previously targeted bullying, or perhaps they have a speech impediment that stops them from opening up effectively. Be mindful of this possibility.
6. Promote Social Cohesion
Every working environment consists of introverts and extroverts, particularly in large organizations, and they usually tend to interact infrequently. Both personality types have their distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Teamwork is essential for promoting productivity. Try to foster harmonious relations between them by encouraging introverts to open up while encouraging extroverts to listen.
For example, in meetings of six people, two will do 60% of the talking. This can impact the sharing of potentially great ideas.
Encourage introverts to open up by facilitating a comfortable atmosphere. It's no good having members with excellent ideas feel they need a better platform to speak up. Prepare meeting participants by providing a meeting agenda before the event.
7. Consider Remote Working
The recent Covid-19 pandemic inadvertently pushed corporations and office-bound organizations to rethink their office space strategies. Many companies invested heavily in remote working tools and software to limit the contact between staff members.
Consider the introverts and their functions when assigning staff to their places of work. The hybrid home-office model, typically used today, allows introverts to work from home, where they are more likely to feel comfortable and thrive. In addition, periodic in-office meetings can help eliminate alienation between staff members.
Other social media tools and apps can also prove helpful in encouraging introverts to speak up. For example, instant Messaging gives introverts time to respond and promotes better workplace communication.
Managing introverts takes time, patience, and understanding. It is very important to remember that introversion is not a mental health condition. Instead, it is a form of social energy. In other words, the energy required to maintain productive and positive human relationships.
Encourage introverts to be open and speak their mind. At the same time, provide them with an environment where good communication is encouraged and promoted. Under the right conditions, introverts are an invaluable part of any team.
Ready to create a thriving business with a happy team? Read this article: How to Create Psychological Safety in Your Small Business