The workplace is filled with a myriad of colourful characters and personalities. With various personality types and characteristics on a team, all employees offer unique skills and insights. Charismatic individuals can often lead and direct teams, perfectionists often have an eye for detail and, social butterflies can often improve morale. With so many characters coming together, it is no surprise that every organisation will eventually have an introvert or two on the payroll.
For a business, it is crucial to work with each person’s strengths and weaknesses while ensuring they feel comfortable and valued at work. This is especially true for introverted employees who might often find solace in being alone or not speaking much. Organisations often gravitate towards the loud and charismatic individuals. However, it would be a mistake to ignore the needs or ideas of shy or quiet employees.
Firstly, Don’t Take Their Silence Personally
Shy workers might stay quiet in the office, avoiding confrontations and prefer to keep to themselves. It is part of their personality, so try not to make any negative assumptions about them. Just because an employee doesn’t not talk much does not mean that they are unhappy or disengaged.
Managers should understand that there is a method to their silence. These employees are just more comfortable working in silence and that is when they are concentrating fully on their task.
Unfortunately, most people take silence the wrong way. However, we must respect their silence and create a workplace environment where there is no pressure to say something when there is really nothing important to say.
Give Them Time to Think and Plan
Give your introverts time to think and gather their thoughts. You are more likely to get innovative ideas and solutions from them this way. Prior to meetings, be sure to give a clear agenda so they can prepare and present their ideas well.
While emergency meetings are often unavoidable, try to give introverted employees enough time to think on the issues after the meeting. Do not fault them for being quiet during meetings as more often than not, they prefer to form a more fool-proof and coherent plan rather than saying the first idea that comes to mind.
Give Them Space, but Show Them Your Support
Managers should let introverts know that they can always consult them if problem arise. Other than that, it would be wise to give them space. It is just as important to develop relationships with introverted employees as it is with other workers. Provide them with autonomy and space where you can, but also keep encouraging them to give feedback if they are uncomfortable or if they have ideas that they want to share.
Regular one-on-one meetings with them are also encouraged as they would be more comfortable in a friendly, personalised experience than in a small room filled with people.
If Necessary, Become Their Voice
Introverted employees are not the biggest fans of self-promotion. Often, they will let their work speak for themselves or even convey ideas to their managers in a one-on-one. If they are too shy to speak out, it would be a good idea to become an advocate for them.
Try to make sure that they can present their ideas without getting cut off. Do not consider only charismatic and outgoing candidates. If an introverted candidate has desirable skills, do not hesitate to hire them. Recognise and reward them for their effort and contributions without making them point it out.
These tips for managing introverts are not a form of coddling. They are simply suggestions that employers and managers can use to help bring out the best in their introvert employees, whose talents and strengths can greatly benefit their employers, given the chance.