The Value Of Introverts In The Workplace
Beginning during the formative years, individuals are rewarded and recognized for being outgoing and extroverted. In taking a look at a playground, the children that are talkative, loud and able to easily make new friends quickly become the center of attention, whereas the quiet and reserved children typically can be found playing alone. Fast forward 20 years to a professional environment, extroverts are typically regarded as more knowledgeable, credible and as more qualified leaders. Some may argue that this is because outspoken professionals are more likely to self-promote, build relationships and quickly develop rapport that supports these beliefs.
HR and management professionals are well versed with the wide range of diversity present in the current workforce, ranging from differences in demographic groups, thinking styles and even personality types. Organizations with the ability to leverage the unique differences present in their workforce population are more strategic and innovative than those who do not; the impact of assessing situations, processes and initiatives from multiple perspectives rather than one, homogeneous point of view will undoubtedly produce the best outcome. There are several value adds that introverts provide employers, as well as best practices in how to efficiently support these individuals.
Analytical and Critical
While no two introverts possess the same traits, based on their reserved and quiet nature, most spend the majority of their time observing. During the time when their extroverted counterparts are vocalizing ideas and “thinking out loud”, introverts are internally and critically assessing situations and developing strategies. The majority of dialogue that an introvert has is within his or her own mind, so rest assured that any proposed ideas or finished work products have undergone a significant amount of scrutiny. Based on the fact that introverts do spend so much time observing and listening to their counterparts, they are also able to provide critical yet insightful feedback regarding areas of opportunity and gaps in proposals.
Introverts usually prefer to follow structured and defined processes that enable predictability, accuracy and consistency. Again, this is a commonly held trait rather than a constant amongst introverts. While most introverts can exercise flexibility in their work styles, the preference is typically to have a process in place as well as significant time to complete it in its entirety. Not only are introverts your go-to employees when a process needs to be developed, but ensuring and assessing consistency is also a key area of strength.
Introverts in your organization have the capability to methodically approach and execute tasks, whereas their extroverted counterparts may feel bogged down by taking this route. Highly sensitive, critical and pertinent tasks requiring attention to detail and thorough thinking typically will not only be well executed by introverts, but will also be enjoyable and fulfilling. Introverts often serve as the point person for developing process documentation and outlining best practices or methodology behind successful task execution. These individuals may also thrive in an environment with very little deviation from pre-determined standards and expectations for productivity, however they will likely identify opportunities to streamline processes.
Supporting Introverts in the Workplace
Once you have developed an understanding of some of the strengths and manners in which you can support introverts in the workplace, consider best practices to ensure that your workplace adequately addresses areas that are essential to productivity.
Don’t Overlook Introverts for Leadership Roles
While introverts typically do not possess the traditional gift of gab, there is a lot to be said about the manner in which they communicate. Leaders that are introverts operate best when paired with high performing, driven direct reports; engaged employees seek out leaders that effectively listen and strategically implement ideas. Introverts can provide these employees with both a sounding board and the suggestions necessary to accomplish these goals by virtue of their analytical, critical nature.
Make group dynamics introvert-friendly
Many office environments encourage brainstorming sessions in which a knee jerk reaction to a posed question or idea is expected. It is important to recognize that introverts typically require some additional time to internally analyze and come to a formative conclusion before proposing an idea. For that reason, these kinds of brainstorming sessions typically are not conducive to an introvert’s desired work style. As far as workplace schematics, if possible, enable employees to access private workspaces in which individuals are given the opportunity to work independently.
Enhance companywide understanding of unique personality styles
Developing a deeper understanding of the different styles present within the workplace will truly transcend to more cohesive teams. In speaking about the strengths and ideal working conditions of each group, your employees will have a better understanding of how to partner with colleagues. As it relates to introverts, reinforce concepts such as the fact that these employees typically avoid conflict, may need time to recharge after a stressful situation, or one that requires a significant social aspect, and that they prefer quiet time to work independently.
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