Career Management

Leveraging Introverts in the Workplace (Part 2)


Continuing from last week’s post, we explore ways in which organizations and managers can help leverage introverts in the workplace. Introverts are known to make for persistent, thoughtful and loyal employees. However a challenge they regularly struggle with is being seen, without being in the spotlight. New perspectives and approaches. Are the ways in which managers manage teams to get work done leveraging the strengths of the whole team? Consider this example. While the preferred way in today’s organizations is brainstorming with many team members in a room, this environment is not necessarily suitable for an introvert who did not get sufficient notice. What if meetings began not with a large group of people spitting ideas onto the table but with a few minutes of solo activity where a problem is presented ahead of time?   – Fast Company Managers and peers can make introverts feel included in the following ways

  • Give them ample advance notice (and quiet time), so they can come to the room with their research backed ideas.
  • Since introverts in the workplace are often busy being good listeners, feel free to call them (respectfully) out to share their thoughts when you’d like to hear them speak. Douglas Conant, past CEO of Campbell’s Soup (and introvert) often asked to be called out, in this Harvard Business Review article.
  • When they are called upon, it also helps to give introverts space to speak uninterrupted and can talk through their ideas. Usually, it is worth the airtime. Also, introverts are unlikely to repeat themselves if they feel overlooked.
  • To get the most out of an introverted colleague, avoid going up to their desk, interrupting them and demanding an instant response. Instead, book time for a face-to-face meeting. Or better yet, email them. Introverts respond well to email since it gives them time to reflect and give you a meaningful and most likely useful response.

Also consider this. How productive would your team be if they had the option to think through the different issues, research their ends and propose thought through ideas for discussion in meetings? Research shows that when there are deadlines or demands for productivity, extroverts need quiet time too. Meetings often get a bad rap, but it might be considerable to change how we conduct them. Having a focused agenda and pre-assigned tasks not only helps include all team members but also increases productivity. If you self-identify with being an introvert, these tips can help you work more effectively

  • Recognize that you need thinking time, and find ways to process information on your own time.
  • If asked for your input in a team meeting, while you are still processing your thoughts, verbalize and express this. Team members usually appreciate such candidness and will look to your opinion as a result.
  • Investigate if you are being perceived as aloof or distant, and where so, address it at the outset in one-on-one meetings by explaining your thinking process. When in meetings, contribute early in the meeting by providing a general summary, overview or insight to show involvement.
  • Increase your self-awareness. Chances are, you are well aware of your areas of comfort, from time spent in school and at work. For those among you who prefer concrete evidence, a number of personality tests in the market help to identify your preference for sociability.

In conclusion While a few people may naturally fit into the stereotypes for introversion and extraversion, most people are somewhere on the spectrum, preferring both social interaction and solitude in different measures. We’d recommend taking the Facet5, based on the Big5 personality theory, to learn more about what energizes you, and how your ‘Energy’ facet correlates with other aspects of your personality such as ‘Will’, ‘Control’, ‘Affection’ and ‘Emotionality’.  The debrief and understanding of your personality ‘family’ can provide you and your team a deeper sense of self awareness, acceptance appreciation of your unique strengths. If you enjoyed this article, please share this with your co-workers, friends and family. We would love to hear your thoughts on Felix articles and offerings on LinkedIn andTwitter.

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