As an introvert, it takes me a little more effort to speak up in a group of my peers. I have to think about what I want to say, how I want to say it, and then ask myself if what I want to say is even an interesting conversation topic. And in the amount of time it takes to decide what I want to say, the conversation has often already moved on to a different topic altogether … leaving me speechless.
Introverts like me gain energy from solitude. And extroverts gain energy from interactions with others. Introverts and extroverts are essentially opposing personalities, making it a challenge to manage both types simultaneously. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking explained that “introversion and extroversion go to the heart of who a person is: how they work, how they live, and how they interact.”
In all actuality, a good manager knows what introverts and extroverts need. Each type needs to be talked to and encouraged in different ways. Whether they’re introverted or extroverted, it’s safe to say that the way you nurture and manage your employees affects your business. It’s an important step to a successful business to sharpen your employees’ productivity based off how they work best.
Make the workspace work for all types
For productivity’s sake, Appirio has made remote work part of the company culture. While there are physical offices in locations across the globe, Appirians are welcome to work where they feel the most comfortable. And it’s part of what we call the Worker Experience (WX).
“We use one primary managing method to ensure employee engagement — offering a truly flexible work environment. We give flexibility on work location, which helps a lot because introverted people need peace and quiet to be productive,” says Steve Pruden, SVP of Human Resources at Appirio, a Wipro company. “We offer a full work remote view, where employees can decide where and when they are most productive and design their workday to fit their unique needs.”
The freedom to work in the office, at home, or at their local coffee shop means more creativity, more excitement to stay involved, and more productivity from every employee. Who knows, it might even be that one concept that catapults your business into the stratosphere.
Team environments can make the workplace fun and high-energy. But in these “extroverted hubs,” it’s smart to build-in escape plans for introverts. Introverts lose energy quickly in highly interactive environments, so give them time to retreat into their headphones or their offices with their door closed. This gives them time and space to recharge their lagging energy and think about what they want to say or contribute to the team.
The same can be said for extroverts who work in a serious or quiet office space. Extroverts can lose steam quickly if they don’t have anyone or anything to interact with often. Allow them time in meetings or group settings to communicate and brainstorm. Give them a few minutes at the end of a meeting to talk through obstacles or thought processes. Or encourage them to go out with coworkers outside of work. These suggested interactions can inject engagement and enthusiasm into an otherwise stuffy office.
Individuality equals productivity
Although I consider myself a steadfast introvert, there are times when I can become the life of the party. Granted, these lively moments are short-lived (and afterwards, I run to my cave and re-energize by reading a good book). But the moments when I sparkle in extroversion prove that no one is stagnant, no one stays one way forever.
We all have a little of the opposite within us. Putting your employees in tight boxes — evaluating who they are, and who they aren’t — can create a stifling feeling for your employees and lead to dips in productivity.
So allow space for bursts of energy and transformations in your employees. Your employees are talented and ever-changing. If you give your direct reports room to be the individual they choose, you’ll have more satisfied employees.
Additional management tips
Here are some tips to better manage the introverts and extroverts in your life:
- Balance your office space — include social areas and private nooks in the office layout.
- It’s all in the little things — Thinking and planning ahead with your employees makes a big difference. For example, sending out an agenda before meetings allows your extroverts the time they need to hash out the topics, while giving your introverts time to formulate a few thoughts ahead of time.
- Don’t micromanage — Giving your employees the space to laugh and joke around (extroverts) or listen to music on their headphones (introverts) will boost engagement.
- Make room for talk — Make sure each of your employees has time to speak up, if they choose. Show your workers that you are there to listen to them, you’re willing to work through problems to find solutions, and you’ll take their ideas and put them to good use.
In the end, it’s essential to remember that everyone has different personalities, and everyone enjoys doing their work differently. What works for one, might not work for the next. Pruden further expounded that when it comes to your employees, it’s critical to “[invest] in making your employees happy. If you don’t know what each employee needs to be engaged, put in the time and resources to find out. It’ll pay off at the end.”
Learn more about how personalizing your approach to WX can change your business for the better at our 2017 Appirio Worker Experience Tour. Hear from industry experts and top business leaders, see current WX technology demos, and learn about the true ROI of investing in WX transformation, straight from the analysts at Forrester Research. Register now!