Diversity is powerful and that means that not every one of your employees is going to be outspoken, assertive, and outgoing. Being a good leader or manager is about adjusting your leadership style to fit your team, so that every employee is set up to be successful. Here are six tips to ensure that your talented, yet introverted, employees aren’t left behind.
Give time for reflection
Introverts naturally analyze situations differently than extroverts. Let your quieter employees take time to analyze details or process information, if it’s possible. Introverts can be slower decision makers and tend to do their best work when given alone time to truly reflect and consider solutions and thoughts.
Be careful with assuming
It’s easy to assume that your introverts are disengaged or unhappy because they aren’t as social or as outspoken as their extroverted counterparts, but that’s just not the case. Don’t assume anything with introverts. If they are quiet in meetings or if they always seem to be at their desk, that is simply a reflection of personality, not dedication to their job. In fact, they could actually be some of your most engaged employees!
Tailor your communication
Impromptu stop-bys, last-minute chats, and surprise visits are not ideal for your introverted team members. If possible, send an email or chat message if you have a question that can be answered in writing. If you surprise them with a question or idea, they might not give you their best answer, as they need time to think about what they want to say.
Spend time 1-on-1
Introverts will always be more comfortable interacting with others in 1-on-1 situations. One of their strongest skillsets is working independently and they feel the best working with one other person, rather than a large group. Collaboration can’t be avoided, but at least you know why your introvert is sending over a spreadsheet of ideas one day after the meeting, instead of sharing them with the team on the spot. Want a deeper conversation about goals or aspirations? The best outcome would be in a closed-door meeting, 1-on-1.
Give them space
There are all different kinds of introverts, but being an introverted individual does not necessarily mean that you don’t want to be around people. All it means is that you need time alone to recharge. While open spaces aren’t ideal working environments for introverts, a quick fix is giving your employees quiet rooms, where they can get away for a little while to escape the business of the main room. That way, introverts get the best of both worlds, when a private office isn’t an option.
Generally speaking, introverts love planning. The more preparation they can do, the better they will perform. Send an agenda before a meeting so that they can have their thoughts ready to go. In the business world, it’s impossible to plan ahead for everything, but if you give your introverts time after an emergency meeting or last-minute talk, they can still have that quiet time to come up with powerful and thought-out solutions, in a comfortable and productive way.
According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, more than 1/3 of the world’s population is introverted. So, it’s more than likely that you have some introverted team members in your company, whether you recognize it or not. We aren’t saying that introverts should be babied or coddled; introverts are just as strong as your extroverts, in fact. Each of your employees, whether introverted or not, has their own strengths and weaknesses, and as a leader, it is your priority to make them as successful as possible so that they can thrive and be a productive part of your team.