In many offices around the U.S., employees with extraverted personalities are considered the cream of the crop. Their outgoing nature and ability to connect with coworkers, managers and clients helps them succeed in a culture that emphasizes collaboration. But as an HR manager, it may be time to take a closer look at the introverted employees behind the scenes.
When author Susan Cain released Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, it started a sort-of Introvert revolution that has brought many introverts out of their shells. While Introverts used to feel the need to take on extraverted characteristics in order to succeed in the workplace, Cain’s book highlighted the quiet strengths of Introverts, and inspired Introverts to be themselves.
If you’re an HR manager, it means understanding your introverted employees are more important to your company’s success than ever. How does this affect your office? Here are five things that may change the way you look at your introverted employees:
1. Introverts don’t mind working with others
The typical misconception is that Introverts are loners who don’t like working with other people.
In fact, Introverts in your office probably don’t mind working with their coworkers, they just can’t do it for as long. Unlike Extraverts, Introverts tire quickly of situations with multiple stimuli. That means large brainstorming sessions or company meetings may be enjoyable for Introverts, but only in small doses.
Get to know how comfortable the Introverts in your office are with group projects or team meetings to ensure you’re getting the most energy out of your introverted employees.
2. Introverts need quiet spaces to get things done
Since Introverts lose energy in high stimulus situations, they often retreat to quiet, closed off areas to get work done. While you may think they are avoiding interaction with others, they are most likely retreating to a low stress area to ensure they deliver quality work product.
In its Global Benefits Attitudes Survey released in September 2014, Towers Watson found that 57 percent of employees with high levels of stress were also disengaged. If possible, keep your Introverts engaged by reconfiguring your office or providing mobile workstations, so when they feel the need to “get away,” Introverts have low stress, quiet places to plug in and be productive
3. Introverts know their own strengths and weaknesses
Because Introverts seek quiet, calm places to recharge and focus, they are naturally more self-reflective than Extraverts. This means they are more aware of their strengths, and their weaknesses. Try keeping an open dialogue with your Introverts about their strengths and weaknesses and offer actionable suggestions on how they can improve their self-perceived weaknesses.
4. Introverts are great listeners
Introverts like to listen. They have a special knack for taking in large amounts of information and considering how it relates to a problem before making suggestions.
Introverts don’t just passively listen, waiting for their opportunity to talk. They are active listeners who often take notes, and draw patterns and conclusions from the discussion. When they do have thoughts, comments or suggestions, they are often more complete and calculated than those of their extraverted counterparts.
When Introverts in your office offer suggestions, consider how they can impact the project you are working on. Often, Introverts make connections that can shift the direction of the project or the scope of the solution.
5. Introverts make good leaders.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Introverts is that they do not make good leaders. Leaders solicit feedback from the people they lead and integrate the ideas of the team into the bigger strategic picture. They are aware of the dynamics in the office and how their actions affect the team, and they analyze issues and solve problems that other people may not have the focus for. Sound familiar?
An Introvert’s ability to understand strengths and weaknesses, work as a part of a team -- but know when to step back -- and listen to all of the available information before formulating an action plan make them ideal candidates for leadership roles in your organization.
As HR managers, it’s your job to find and cultivate the talent in your organization. Now that you have a better understanding of the strengths Introverts can bring to the table, take another look at the Introverts in your office and make sure you’re giving them the best opportunities to succeed.
What benefits have you seen from Introverts in your office? How do you plan on taking advantage of all the Introverts in your office have to offer? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity, a California-based provider of online personality and career assessments and developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment. Learn more about personality type and career achievement and connect with Molly and Truity on Twitter and Facebook.