How to Manage Introverts and Extroverts in the Workplace
As an employer, it is likely that you will encounter a combination of introverted and extroverted employees throughout your career. Having a diversity of thinkers working together can be empowering for your business, but it can sometimes prove difficult to manage all groups adequately. Each personality type has its own distinctive traits, and both add value to your company with a comfortable environment to operate in. However, the environments where introverts vs. extroverts feel comfortable tend to vary quite drastically. What can you do as an employer to make sure all of your employees are happy and thriving?
Introverts in the Workplace
Introverts are sometimes misconceived as being antisocial or shy, and can often feel overshadowed by their extroverted peers (especially in environments which value outspokenness and competition). In actuality, introverts simply prefer a different approach to the day-today that eases their anxieties; this is how they produce their best work. They respond well to organization, preparation, and often prefer to work on projects alone as much as possible. Some of their workplace habits might include:
- Excelling at administrative duties or those which don’t require interaction with others
- Solo projects over collaborative ones
- Preferring to communicate via email rather than in person
What You Can Do to Help Them Succeed
Introverts can often have trouble communicating, especially in front of large groups of people; brainstorming meetings that lack organization can sometimes cause them social anxiety. Try to establish meeting structure and prepare an agenda ahead of time, so that more reserved individuals can feel more comfortable having their voice heard. Also, integrating alternative means of communication – such as email or text – will help to relieve some stress.
Introverts prefer projects that don’t require as much collaboration with others, because they can feel overshadowed by individuals who are more comfortable taking charge. Productivity may benefit from giving them tasks which can be completed individually. Also, be patient – introverts won’t come out of their shells overnight, but a supportive working environment can do wonders.
Extroverts in the Workplace
Extroverted personality traits are characterized as outgoing and communicative. Extroverts are sometimes criticized for failing to think before they speak. They react well to praise and feedback and are always ready to meet new people and bounce ideas off of others. Extroverts typically have a variety of interests and enjoy taking on new challenges, which make them a great addition to many workplaces. Some things that extroverts excel at in a business setting include (but are not limited to):
- Taking the lead on group projects, discussion or meetings
- Talking with clients or ‘schmoozing’
- Taking on more than one project at once; wanting to be involved in multiple avenues
What You Can Do to Help Them Succeed
Extroverts can sometimes have difficulty concentrating and staying engaged with one task at once. So, as much as they might want to have a hand in everything, it may prove useful to assign them specific projects to make sure they are staying on the ball. In a customer service environment, extroverts would probably be more likely to feel comfortable talking to clients and closing deals. However, it is a good idea to give them a variety of tasks so that they don’t fall victim to monotony. Extroverts also tend to work more productively when they are given positive, or even neutral, feedback; it helps them stay focused and motivated.
Overall, it is your job as their employer to recognize each team member’s unique work ethic. It’s highly beneficial to your company to try and accommodate both personality traits, rather than stifle one or the other.
While not always possible, a good place to start is by making adjustments to the workplace to make sure there are physical spaces for everyone to work productively, like a mix of open spaces and smaller offices. Introverts and extroverts differ greatly, but both add their own particular value to a well-rounded team. Another excellent way to help introverts and extroverts work well together is to host social events or team building activities; about half of workers think that having a good relationship with their co-workers is very important.
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