Within any workplace, there are bound to be a variety of different personalities. One of those personalities will be the introvert. In order to get the most out of your staff, you need to understand their personality, which will then tell you a lot about their strengths and weaknesses.
So, what is an introvert?
An introvert is someone who is quiet, thoughtful, and in some ways tends to shy away from large social gatherings. They may be shy, although not always, and simply prefer to keep themselves to themselves. Introverts are great thinkers, deep analysers, and fantastic listeners.
Within the workplace you need to give your introverts plenty of space to think and analyse, without being overcrowded by noise and extroverted people. Quiet zones are a great idea for introverts, because it is sometimes the case that they need to cut themselves off for a short while, to recharge their batteries and concentrate. If a zone such as this isn’t an option e.g. possibly because you don’t have the space, then workstations with partitions are a good idea too.
Of course, an introvert isn’t someone who wants to be cut away from everyone all the time, and they enjoy sharing ideas too, in quality collaborative workspaces. It’s really about getting the balance right, so your introverted members of staff have the space they need, but the opportunities to share ideas too.
Understanding The Introvert
So, what else do you need to know about an introvert? Introverts are often misunderstood. Introverts need alone time because large portions of time spent with louder, more forceful people can drain them. They need this alone time to recharge and refocus.
This is where that effective space planning within your workspace will come in very useful.
It is wrong to think that the introverted employees you have are socially inept, not team players, loners, or simply shy. Much of the time that really isn’t the case. Someone who is quiet isn’t necessarily shy; perhaps they’re just listening, soaking everything up. It doesn’t mean they’re lacking in confidence either - have you heard of quiet confidence?
Introverts aren’t lacking in energy either, and they’re not antisocial. We all deal with situations in different ways, and the introverted way to deal with a situation involving many people is to sit back and listen, watch, and think. Some of the best ideas come from these situations.
The truth is that introverted workers are actually very creative. That thinking time allows them to come up with solutions to problems that nobody else would even think of. The fact they are listening and soaking everything up allows them to take on the ideas of others and develop them in a different way. This is where that creative streak comes from. You don’t have to be loud and you don’t have to shout to get your ideas across, sometimes the quieter ways are more effective.
Introverts also get on very well with extroverts, it’s simply that they sometimes need to take themselves out of a situation to recharge. When you create the right environment, e.g. using bench desks for collaboration, which can be walked towards and away from, the introvert-extrovert team can be a very strong one.
Playing to The Introvert’s Strengths
As an employer, it’s important to know the strengths of an introvert and be able to play towards them. This will give you the very best work-based outcome!
Overall, introverts are great the following things:
- Researching facts
- Creating strategies
- Coming up with creative solutions to problems
- Emotional intelligence
- Being focused
Any type of project which requires concentration, persistence, a creative mind, and the ability to be methodical, is ideal for an introvert. Give them the right environment, e.g. office desks with partitions, or individual work pods so they can concentrate, and you’ll have a great outcome. If you can help your introverts feel comfortable in their environment, that will help too. Perhaps with a little desk personalisation, or simply giving them the space they need to be able to do their job in comfort.
None of this is to say that introverts aren’t fantastic collaborators, because they can be when they feel comfortable once more. If you’re teaming introverts and extroverts together, simply make sure that team sessions aren’t prolonged, and that your introverts have the chance to sit and soak everything up, assess and analyse, rather than being overwhelmed by a very strong extrovert.
Having introverts within your workplace is a great addition, and if you can make them feel comfortable and encourage them with the right kinds of tasks, you’ll find productivity is certainly on the rise.
Keep in mind:
"Quiet people have the loudest minds" – Stephen Hawking