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How NOT to Lose an Introvert in 10 Days
Ahh, introverts… The cubicle-loving, corner-hiding, leave-me-alone-to-do-my-work-in-the-dark-without-having-to-talk-to-people introvert.
Balancing the management and leadership of different personalities in the workplace can be a challenge for some managers, perhaps especially those whose personalities or behavioral aptitudes are much different from their employees.
Introversion, a term popularized by psychoanalyst Carl Jung, is a component of personality theory and describes the preference for and interest in self-reflection, solitary activities, and energy derived from spending time alone. These individuals typically tend to be more process-oriented and analytical, preferring to process information at their own pace and focus on one problem at a time.
Do’s and Don’ts
The Center of Attention!
Want to totally scare the life out of your introverted employees? Put them on the spot, requesting immediate answers to a question or problem. Introverts generally do not like the spotlight, for obvious reasons, and it’s even worse for shy introverts! If you call on an introvert employee to participate in a discussion or even to praise them for something they’ve earned, a best practice would be to give them a head’s up beforehand so they can prepare for the spotlight.
Stealing a line from the Huffington Post, “Introverts would rather jump off a cliff than have the attention shifted in their direction without notice.” True story. Please make it stop ✋
Introverts need their time to think and process information on their own terms. Feeling a pressure to perform or produce feels out of line for these types, and likely won’t return the desired results on either end. Introverts thrive when they have time and preparation, so allowing for this in dealing with assignment deadlines or work tasks will likely take better advantage of their skills.
If assigning them a task or if you need something more immediate from them, present them with the information they need and then give some space. They’ll appreciate it and likely be able to deliver better results than if you were to stick around and wait.
No Privacy Allowed
Open offices are quickly becoming a thing, where glass is the new drywall for office cubicles. If this is your office environment, that’s fine, just make sure your office has some sort of space for decompressing and unwinding. If not, then allowing for your introvert employee to break away for short periods of time works too. Personal privacy, even in the workplace is more conducive to productivity for introverts, who may find the constant stimulation of an open office workspace draining, according to IO Psychologist Dr. Marla Gottschalk.
Starting the Day Off Right
Since introverts like to be prepared and think things out before jumping in head first, it’s no doubt that they’d prefer to spend the first part of their day gathering their thoughts and organizing themselves. And, since they prefer to work alone most of the time, an interruption to this routine may be frustrating.
If possible, allow them the space to organize their day before engaging in a deep conversation or work meeting.
While Introverts may not be the most expressive individuals on the planet Earth, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything to say! This is a big misconception with the quieter personality types.
According to an article published in Entrepreneur, as a manager learn to be comfortable with silence. If you have to draw out your introverted employees, then do so. Ensure that they feel they have a space to share and aren’t interrupted or talked over.
Group Meetings and Social Events
Another common misconception is that introverts don’t enjoy being around people. While this isn’t quite the case, it just means that they have a different preference and relationship in being around people than extroverts. Introverts derive their energy from being alone, while those who are more extroverted feel the opposite.
In group settings, the introvert will sit in the background allowing the extrovert to dominate and control the conversation. If the introvert is given enough time to prepare for a meeting, perhaps with an agenda, they are more likely to participate.
Same goes for social events. Introverts are more likely to stick to business when it comes to social engagements with work, just because their preference is not to overly engage in the social lives of others. This is definitely not to say that introverts are unfriendly or incapable of developing relationships with others they work with, it’s just less likely as compared to an extrovert, for example. Acknowledging these differences is a first important step in understanding how to interact with and manage introverts.
These tips shouldn’t feel burdensome or like an unnecessary type of coddling, but rather an approach to most effectively work with and inspire the best work from your introverted employees. When you understand the underlying motivations and preferences of your employees, you are better able to motivate, communicate, and manage them to the betterment of your organization and their potential. They are also more likely to appreciate that their unique personality and behavioral types are valued and remain dedicated to your cause.
Not sure who’s who on your team? Our personality assessments will help you find out!
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