Celebrating Personality Differences: How to Deal with Introvert Employees?

March 27, 20172:05 pm488 views

Do you have silent employees who rarely speak up unless you ask them to? Do you often find them looking aimlessly at the sky and diving in their own thoughts? Do they prefer having lunch alone rather than joining their co-workers? Wait! Don’t immediately judge them as being antisocial, passive, and unenthusiastic individuals. Because, you have just got introduced to the silent personality type: The Introverts.

Not everyone you are working with is an extrovert. The truth is, someone can be introverted, extroverted, or even ambiverted (somewhere in between). As a leader, it is crucial  to understand different personality types and learn how to work well with them. You also need to ensure that regardless of their personality trait, every member in the team should get equal opportunity to flourish, grow and develop their full potentials.

However, in today’s fiercer competitive age, it seems extroverted individuals are rewarded and favoured more than the introverted ones. Most corporate culture value people with outgoing personality types, who are perceived to be bold, not afraid to speak up their mind and engage in an open conversation. Passionate and charismatic, extroverts display key qualities to be successful leaders.

Meanwhile, the quieter and inward-looking individuals are seen as unfit to be effective team leaders, because of their quiet and calm demeanour. In fact, as long as you are able to tap into the right strategy to deal with introverts, you can find solutions on how to best harness the talent potentials of these introverted individuals at work. Here are several tips to help you understand and relate to such employee personality types:

  1.    Listen to them

Bear in mind that introverted employees won’t talk much, and won’t be expressive with their opinions or suggestions unless asked for. Therefore, when this personality type decides to break the silence and speak up, you should listen to them on what they wish to convey. As they think thoroughly before they speak, you can be assured that they will bring on something meaningful.

  1.    Respect their space

Introverted employees get drained from too many social interactions. Therefore, there are times you will need to respect their space by assigning independent tasks over team tasks. To facilitate their workings in comfort, you can allow them to work in a separate place, so that they won’t be distracted by the noise. Also if possible, you can give provide telecommute options for them.  

See: Manager’s Challenge: How to Deal with Different Personality Types at Work?

  1.    Don’t force them

It is obvious that introverts don’t like being the centre of attention. When they observe silence during an important discussion, do not force them by firing series of questions, all at once. If they do not show up at a birthday party, don’t mistake their absence as rudeness. Rather, learn their nature and accept their silence.

  1.   Use virtual communication

Rather than surprising them with unscheduled visits to their cubicle, they will appreciate, if you could use virtual communication tools to exchange words. You can use emails, social media, or even memos to communicate with them. While face-to-face meeting is important, you should limit that when it comes to introverted employees.

  1.    Do not interrupt privacy

Introverted employees have a good ability to focus solely on their work. Hence, respect their privacy by not interrupting them with small talks that might disrupt their thoughts. If you want to know better about their personal lives, take one-to-one approach and communicate with them personally.

  1.    Help them to shine

Compared to their vocal extroverted peers, introverts might find it difficult to promote their work. As a consequence, they are often unnoticed and overlooked by higher managerial authorities. Due to their inability to endorse their own contributions to the organisation, they don’t get the recognition and rewards they deserve. Therefore, you should play active role in advocating them to shine by recognising and rewarding them with due credits.

What does J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, and Mahatma Gandhi have in common? They are all successful leaders in time, and yes they are introverts. These figures are only a handful example of introverted individuals, who happen to prove a point that introverts are capable of going places, too.

Your introverted employees might not be much for words during meetings. However, when you discuss a business problem, they will be the ideal resource to come up with well-thought and great solutions. Each personality has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it is the responsibility of the organisation to harness their potential and leverage on new avenues for growth.

Also read: HRs Must Know: The Common 8 Personality Types at Work