Extroversion and introversion are used to define two ends of a personality spectrum. People can have a mix of introverted and extroverted traits, and we all have our own preferences and expectations in work culture. But how can leaders integrate different personality types and their respective styles to ensure a productive and efficient work environment for the long-term?
Managing a group of individuals with a mix of personalities who differ in how they react to tasks, speaking up and responsibilities can be challenging. So, it is important to understand that extroverted and introverted personalities perform and differ in the workplace. Leaders can create a motivational environment where both extroverts and introverts not only excel in but also can function cooperatively in with others.
The Introvert In The Workplace
I was introverted as a child and well into adulthood. Introversion can be viewed as an entire personality trait in itself. Often softer-spoken when compared to their extroverted counterparts, introverts tend to prefer socializing in moderation. While extroverts often seek social stimulation, to introverts, socializing can drain energy. As such, many introverts view alone time and solitude as a mental oasis where they can reflect and recharge.
In my experience, introverted employees tend to prefer smaller, quieter workspaces with fewer crowds. I’ve found many introverts are also more reserved in their nature and don’t always start the conversation. Some may avoid small talk with others entirely to save their social energy for meaningful conversations with those they are close to. I’ve learned that one-on-one conversations and small group settings are often ideal to bring out their social side.
Managing The Introvert
Introverts often require time for introspection after a task, perhaps to think about what they could’ve done better and to assess what they learned for future purposes. As such, your more introverted employees may thrive on structured schedules, which means it is important to provide them with a set timeline to accomplish a task. When being praised for their efforts, keep in mind that people who are more introverted may be more comfortable with one-on-one or written recognition.
The Extrovert In The Workplace
Extroverts, on the other hand, often prefer larger crowds. In the world of psychology and human behavioral analysis, extroversion is measured based on how sociable and outgoing a person is. People who score highly in extroversion tend to be talkative and thrive in social situations, as they enjoy the company of others. As such, many extroverts may seek the spotlight and often possess strong communication skills.
Many extroverts thrive in fast-paced settings with lots of people and are stimulated by team collaboration, multitasking and adapting to sudden changes. As such, you might find some of your more extroverted employees do not enjoy quiet, silent settings or when they’re alone for long periods, as they might acquire motivation through external stimulation from their environment.
Managing The Extrovert
In my experience, results-driven extroverts are often not afraid to say what is on their mind regarding solutions and ideas. There is little need to push them into being active in group settings, and their skill in communication often makes them great conversationalists.
But it is also important that, at times, leaders not let the extroverts take all the attention when there are other people looking to pitch in. A simple “Thank you for your valuable input, but I’d also like to hear from those who haven’t spoken yet” should be enough to open the floor for the less extroverted to speak their peace without brushing off the extrovert who did their best to provide ample solutions.
Bringing Out The Extrovert In The Introvert
While it is true that introverts don’t tend to dominate conversations compared to extroverts, this doesn’t mean they don’t want to speak up to share their knowledge about a topic that interests them. In my experience, the best way to derive input from the introvert is to ask them directly, whether in a small group setting or one-on-one where they feel comfortable and encouraged to speak their mind.
However, expect the introvert to speak less the larger the crowd is. While they are completely present when giving their attention to another individual or a small group, some people may become withdrawn in more crowded settings. Although, this doesn’t mean introverts aren’t necessarily good presenters or public speakers themselves, regardless of the crowd size. In my experience, many introverts do well at these things because it provides them with the opportunity to clearly present their ideas logically and uninterrupted without the need for social responses and cues from others to continue the topic.
Extroversion and introversion are terms used to define two ends of a personality spectrum, and there is no-one-size-fits-all approach to anyone. We all have a mix of introverted and extroverted traits in us—each with our own preferences and expectations in work culture.