Today, many organisations are set up to favour extroverts...
The topic of introverted staff is by no means a new one, and yet it’s still an ever-present issue. Today, many organisations are set up to favour extroverts, whether it be with open floor plans, team lunches, or mandatory meetings. Unfortunately, this can create a lot of stress for introverts. So, what's the solution?
Take a moment to consider that the two personality types (introverts and extroverts) require different things from their working environment. Introverted staff often want to be left undisturbed in order to retain their level of efficiency in the workplace. While extroverted staff thrive on networking, staying connected with people, and often like to fill awkward silences.
Due to the nature of extroverted personalities, they tend to be heard, while introverted colleagues (the quiet ones) are not. So, if you're looking to coax your introverted employees out of their shell, and ensure they reach their fullest potential, take a look at our 5 solutions below...
5 workplace practices that exasperate introverts:
1. Open plan offices
The theory is that open working environments cultivate creativity, collaboration and clarity among employees, but to an introvert… open offices equate to workspaces that are often FAR TOO LOUD. And the more noise that’s present, the more disruptive the work environment becomes, resulting in a less efficient and unhappy introvert.
The solution: Smaller workspaces and quiet zones
Smaller workspaces, or layouts that cater for petite clusters of workers can help to reduce noise and disruption. While aids such as moveable furniture and privacy screens can work by breaking up large open spaces and creating private areas for those seeking some quiet time. Failing that, designated quiet zones should do the trick.
2. Mandatory meetings
Mandatory meetings and brainstorming are every introvert’s worst nightmare, as is being asked for impromptu feedback. Yet, in today’s world, mandatory meetings are a common work practise. And, as a result, introverts are often left feeling drained, particularly if they’re required to chair the meeting.
The solution: Create a meeting agenda
Having the chance to consider answers prior to being asked is an opportunity introverts will relish. Being put on the spot, however, is not. By circulating topics of discussion prior to the meeting, so topics are known in advance, staff members can be more prepared in their approach, and introverts will feel more in control.
3. Group discussions
When a topic is raised within a group, extroverts often jump in immediately and dominate the session, to some introverts, this can be a relief, but if it’s too frequent an occurrence, it can become tiresome.
The solution: Encourage a pause for reflection
After raising a topic, give team members time to pause and reflect - roughly a minute or so. This will allow time for them to formulate ideas and write them down if need be.
4. Social events and team lunches
Whether its team lunches, Christmas parties or drinks at the end of a long day – social activity can be a drain for introverts. It’s key to realise that in certain situations where introverts are comfortable, they’ll be bubbly and energetic, and in situations where they’re uncomfortable, they won’t. Rather than allowing such social gatherings to sap their energy, accept that when they want to make an exit, it’s not them being rude, they’re just exhausted at trying to fit into an extroverted world.
The solution: Recognise the energy drain of being sociable
Create a minimum of 2 hours a day for quiet time, where your introverted staff can work in peace, without interruption. For an introvert, having the choice to focus from an otherwise highly stimulating workplace can make a huge difference to efficiency and contentment. Also, the use of headphones to block out external sounds can be equally beneficial. This ability to control stimuli within the workspace can allow an introvert’s battery to recharge.
5. Imposter syndrome
Okay, so this is less of a workplace practice, and more of a common trait for introverts... Self-doubt is imbedded into the core of an introvert – of course – extroverts have this too, but for introverts it can be a crippling problem. Feeling distant, unconnected and less than your peers are all feelings that introverts battle with often on a daily basis. Sad, but true.
The solution: Take steps to recognise the differences between the 2 personality types
With introverts making up 30-50% of the workforce, serving their needs (as well as an extrovert’s needs) in the workplace is key. This means understanding their traits and stresses and designing a comfortable workplace that caters for their unique qualities, whether it be creating a quiet zone, preparing meeting agendas or taking the time to think about new approaches to ensure your introverted staff members feel more included.
Introverts bring a different kind of value in the workplace…
Being an introvert doesn’t mean not having a seat at the table. Introverts are an important part of any organisation – they are natural leaders! They bring unique values to the workplace that includes quiet focus, great observation skills, they’re also very thoughtful. So, the question is – what are you doing to cater for your introverted colleagues?