Introverts make up a third of the population, with many of them existing on different sections of the introvert-extrovert scale. In the workplace, the extent of a team’s success can often depend on the personality of each team member and how they work with others. Therefore, as a manager, knowing how to navigate and leverage your employees’ personalities helps the workplace thrive.
When it comes to managing introverts, many managers may feel confused or altogether lost. Although introverts have a reputation for being quiet and reserved, they have many other strengths, and for managers to unlock them, they need to understand introverts’ needs. That’s why we’ve compiled the definitive guide on how to identify, communicate with, and effectively manage introverts in the workplace. Let’s dive right in.
How to spot an introvert
You might be wondering, “How can I know for certain who’s an introvert?”
Well, introverts come in all shades, shapes, and sizes. Nonetheless, here are some basic traits that introverts most commonly possess:
- They are independent.
- Introverts are very self-aware.
- People seem them as quiet and reserved.
- Introverts become energetic when dealing with ideas.
- They would rather do activities on their own or with one or two other people.
- Introverts prefer to get to know a few people well rather than many people superficially.
- They can understand situations clearly and objectively.
While these may be true for some introverts, not all introverts will tick every one of these boxes. As personalities exist on a scale, some introverts can be more extroverted than others.
The main thing to look for when trying to identify an introvert is how they respond in social situations. Constantly being around a lot of people can be extremely draining for introverts.
What are the introverts’ strengths?
Society seems to champion extroverts with their charisma, social savoir-faire, and bubbly personas. However, introverts have plenty of strengths that they can bring to the workplace, as well.
Introverts excel at:
- Developing and creating new ideas
- Organizing and planning things through effectively
- Independent and self-motivated
- Observant. They notice everything
- Quiet temperament
Understanding your introverted employees’ strengths is crucial not only to maximizing their abilities but also to appreciate what they do in the workplace. Managers seeking to uplift and effectively delegate to their introverted employees should avoid overlooking their strengths.
In spite of their quiet and thoughtful nature, introverts are incredibly hard workers who dedicate themselves wholly to their work. Whether or not managers see or recognize that it is entirely up to them.
Introverts in the workplace
It is not uncommon for introverts to feel overlooked in the workplace. While they buckle down and do the work, others who speak bolder and louder often receive more kudos than them.
Neglecting introverts in the workplace can lead to employee dissatisfaction and eventual resignation from a position. To circumvent this, managers need to be able to comprehend and adjust to their introverted employees’ needs.
Truly grasping the nature of an introvert has as much to do with them as it does with you. You may have to entirely rethink how you interact with them.
Here are several ways in which you can improve how you manage your introverted employees.
Evaluate your style of management
Have you ever thought about what kind of manager you are? The way that you interact with your employees speaks volumes about your management style.
Perhaps, you command more than you coach. Conversely, you may be a very democratic manager as opposed to an authoritative manager.
Taking a look at yourself and the way that you manage will help you make any necessary adjustments to better interact with introverts.
It’s possible that your style of management works brilliantly with outgoing people, but doesn’t benefit introverts. In the event that your management style is too robust, consider adjusting it for all of your employees.
Don’t worry about introverts feeling as though you are coddling them. They are more likely to be grateful for any changes you make to the way that you manage.
Utilize written communication
Introverts interact differently with the outside world, so it only makes sense that they communicate differently, as well. Their thoughtful nature often means that they need more time to absorb new information.
Communicating with them through writing, be it via email, text, or instant messaging, allows them time to organize their ideas. By reducing the pressure to respond immediately, writing will permit introverts to calmly and expertly express their views.
Furthermore, using writing as the primary means of communication will let them communicate in their own way. The freedom that this gives them will help them feel more confident and competent in their communication.
Not to mention, it will also significantly reduce any stress or anxiety they have about communicating. Introverts may become stressed when communicating in social situations and end up withdrawing, which is the opposite of what you want.
Give them space
While introverts tend to be quite creative and innovative, they need the appropriate space and conditions to work under. Managers looking to inspire introverts to do their best work have to embrace their personal space.
Introverts require plenty of alone time to recharge and accomplish their tasks. Therefore, scheduling an alone time for them will help ensure that they provide excellent work in time for deadlines.
Something as small as closing doors also helps provide introverts with some space. Although many offices today see open doors as a way to connect the workforce, for introverts, this can mount unnecessary pressure.
Giving your introverted employees the ability to work from home occasionally can also boost their productivity.
Scheduling one-on-one meetings with introverted employees is another excellent strategy to give them space but interact on a more personal level.
Provide opportunities to lead
Now, we often think of leaders as being only out-spoken go-getters who possess amazing social skills. While that is one style of leadership, many different characteristics can make someone a great leader.
Extroverts usually fit the model of a great leader, but the truth is that introverts make great leaders, too. Due to their listening abilities and innate tenacity, introverts are well-suited to leadership roles.
Furthermore, introverts are less competitive, which means they are happy to work for the greater common good. This trait is immensely important when it comes to shaping influential leaders.
Therefore, giving introverts the opportunity to lead in the workplace puts their inherent skills to use. They may even prove far more capable than others because they naturally understand how to support other people.
Motivate them to participate
The average workplace has lots of meetings and presentations scheduled weekly. Although these are spaces for people to interact and share ideas, they can be a landmine for introverts.
Regardless of whether or not they participate, introverts are highly aware of the conversations and exchanges taking place around them. They silently soak up information while they organize ideas in their heads and formulate plans.
In essence, just because they don’t raise their hand and add to the conversation doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say. Therefore, managers must nudge them towards participating.
While it’s a fine line to walk between motivating them and putting them on the spot, knowing your employees will help you find the right balance. Ensure that you leave some room for them to participate and add their two cents in, you’ll certainly be glad you did.
Be patient when they don’t participate
On the other hand, it’s crucial to remember that introverts are quiet by nature. If they don’t participate, you shouldn’t take it personally.
Avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about an introverted employee’s behavior. Their silence doesn’t mean that they’re unhappy; it may just mean that they are contemplative or in their world.
Especially if the introvert in question is new to your team, they may take some time to warm up to you. Offer your support and be patient with them during that initial shy stage.
Think of their silence as an asset rather than a drawback. An introvert’s silence indicates that they are thinking before they act and creatively planning out their next step, which are traits that any business can benefit from.
Help eliminate anxiety
Here’s the deal, introverts are stressed out by different things. So, while you may think that chatting to a colleague is a nice way to blow off steam, an introvert would probably disagree.
Finding ways to eliminate anxiety from your introverted employee’s work sphere will boost their morale. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is by directly speaking to the employee in question.
Giving them space to communicate their needs or preferences will ensure they can stay in their comfort zone. Although we may think that being outside of our comfort zones makes us better, the opposite is often true for introverts.
When introverts feel forced into situations, their stress levels soar, and they aren’t able to perform well. Knowing what triggers their anxiety will help managers plan around their needs and in time, slowly push boundaries to allow for professional growth.
Prioritize team building
Working in teams can immensely improve introverts’ skill sets and abilities to interact with others. Despite their love of solitude, in the right team environment, introverts can flourish.
Once an introvert starts to feel comfortable in a team, they’ll likely come out of their shells and become a little more daring.
There are lots of team-building activities that you can incorporate into the workplace to bring introverts out of their comfort zones. For example, games that you can work on staff holidays help immensely in this area.
Escape rooms, which are very popular these days, are a perfect example of a game that can motivate introverts and build their team spirit. When introverts have shared goals with other employees, they will learn to communicate to achieve their goals.
Play the matchmaker
Introverts will learn how to communicate their ideas to extroverts, but that doesn’t mean that they always enjoy it. Having to deal with extroverts constantly can be draining for introverts and demotivate them.
Understandably, introverts will feel overwhelmed by a room of extroverts expressing themselves loudly. They may even feel isolated by the situation.
Thus, managers should consider giving introverted employees a break and pairing them together. Putting two introverts together will make them feel understood and as though they are with someone who speaks their language.
Moreover, matching introverts up can aid them in team-building, bettering their communication, and developing office friendships.
Speak up for them
The bottom line is that introverts function on a different wavelength to most people. They aren’t fans of self-promotion, regardless of whether they have the skills for the task or not.
Introverts would prefer to let their work speak for itself. However, in reality, that can’t always be the case.
Consequently, as a manager, you may need to speak up for them from time to time. Of course, that doesn’t always mean actually speaking for them.
Allowing them the appropriate time to express their ideas without being cut off by others and rewarding their behavior are valid ways to speak up. Also, when it comes to hiring, not disregarding qualified candidates because they’re reserved is another way to vouch for introverts.
Back to you
As people become more aware of introverts’ capabilities and needs, the workplace will continue to change. Managers looking to bring out the best in their employees would benefit from following this guide to managing introverts. When introverts feel understood, they will strive to communicate better, bend over backward for their work, and, in time, willingly become leaders.
About the author
Estelle Liotard is a dedicated writer, ghostwriter, and editor, that has more than seven years of experience in a broad spectrum of niches and industries. She is currently a regular contributor and editor at WoWGrade and Studicus. Her passion is teaching people how to overcome digital marketing obstacles and help businesses communicate their messages to their customers.