How To Manage The Different Needs of Extroverts & Introverts At Work
Unique is every member of the workplace, with their own needs, wants, and motivations. No manager can adapt to every individual quirk, but there are general personality categories that make individualized leading easier: Extroverts and introverts. The differences between extroverts and introverts change how you approach an employee, the jobs they excel at, and the things that make them feel at home. We’ll discuss what sets extrovert and introvert personalities apart, tips to work with each type, and key takeaways to unlock the potential of your whole staff.
Defining Extroverts and Introverts
It’s easy to throw both personality types into big, vague buckets, such as loud, friendly, but less reflective extroverts, and quiet, anti-social, but insightful introverts. But this doesn’t capture the nuance of the subject. There are introverts that still enjoy company, extroverts that understand the finer details, and those that fit in between. What ultimately defines the differences between people with extrovert and introvert tendencies is their relationship to people.
Extroverts are recharged through social contact, while for introverts, it costs them energy.
This reaction to social situations doesn’t define or limit the abilities of extroverts or introverts, but it does influence their preferred work arrangements, tasks, and communication channels. As a manager, understanding these differences can allow you to meet every employee where they are, and harness their full potential.
6 Real Office Needs Of Introverts and Extroverts
What an employee finds comfortable and what comes easily to them influences what they like and dislike about their workplace. This, in turn, effects the effort and motivation managers can get out of their employees. If an introvert is never given a quiet conversation to communicate their great idea, then it may never happen. Likewise, an extrovert may never give their full energy if they are confined to a small cubicle. Keep these needs in mind to create productive workplace strategies that cater to differing personalities.
- Introverts: Private spaces and places to retreat give them time to recharge, ideally far away from a phone they have to answer.
- Extroverts: Open office designs provide these employees with the interaction and attention they need to stay charged and productive all day.
Communication with management
- Introverts: One on ones or digital methods provide the intimacy and quiet that these employees need to be comfortable, contributing, and receptive.
- Extroverts: These types often enjoy the attention and communal nature of a bigger meeting where they can discuss their ideas.
Interactions with colleagues
- Introverts: Much preferred among introverts are a few, close connections, rather than many, less committed friends, with too much small talk.
- Extroverts: Often extroverts thrive on having many friends, although they are probably not an extremely close-knit group.
- Introverts: Everyone likes to be remembered on their birthday, but for introverts, they’d prefer to skip the whole being the spotlight, group singing, make a wish, loud applause shenanigans.
- Extroverts: For these employees, the more excitement and energy the merrier.
Learning and decision-making
- Introverts: Listening and internalizing define how introverts prefer to process new information. After thinking it all through, they will make a considered decision.
- Extroverts: Speaking about or through information helps them to work out new input. Even if only half-digested, they will use it to make a quick decision.
Focus and change
- Introverts: Change needs to happen slowly, or at least with a bit of warning, for introverts to feel comfortable with it, but once adapted, they show an inexhaustible focus on their tasks.
- Extroverts: Change comes naturally to these employees, and they simply go with the flow, but if the flow is absent, they can become easily distracted.
Top Strategies to Manage Introverts and Extroverts
To be at its most productive, a team needs to be firing on all cylinders, introverted and extroverted. Combined, each can do what the other cannot. Where extroverts struggle at detail, introverts excel, and where introverts avoid big presentations, extroverts thrive. Use these tips to understand and combine your employee’s strengths and bring your workplace up to speed by offering the right working conditions and chances to contribute.
Management Tips for Introverts
- Provide early warning. Introverts need more time to adapt, so just giving a simple heads up email or chat about coming meetings, business needs, or projects can help them prepare and give their best. This includes knocking or scheduling before entering their office, so they can expect your visit and adjust their work accordingly.
- Try more personal communication. Using digital methods or private one on ones will allow these employees to collect their thoughts and provide input in the way they feel most comfortable, which is most likely not in big group meetings.
- Don’t rush anyone. Information needs time to be worked through for introverts. Don’t expect immediate feedback about projects or tasks, but instead give them a moment to formulate their thoughts and respond in their own way, even by less common means such as a well-composed email.
Management Tips for Extroverts
- Let them shine. Extroverts can be very outgoing, perhaps to the point of irritating some. Rather than holding them back, channel this into tasks and environments that play to these strengths, letting them use and grow from their natural people skills.
- Discuss and ask. Through talking is how these employees work out ideas. This means a spoken suggestion may not be a finished one. Ask and engage with them about their thoughts to help them develop further, and the company to grow from the new ideas.
- Interrupt when necessary. Giving extroverts the floor is fine and lets them work through ideas and recharge through social interaction, but make sure you can still politely interject and control the conversation when you need.
- People with extrovert tendencies are recharged by social contact, while employees with introverted qualities are exhausted by people.
- Each personality has its strengths, meaning that managers can combine introverts and extroverts in a project and each provides that with which the other struggles.
- Not everyone works the same. Understanding your employee’s personality traits and catering to them individually brings out the full potential of your whole team.
- Introverts and extroverts process information and communicate in different ways. Both have great ideas but need the appropriate communication options to excel.
Digital Solutions for Individual Communication
Extroverts need conversation and interaction, while introverts prefer time and personal, often digital, communication. Digital feedback tools such as kununu engage help bring these contrary expectations together. By providing space for safe, anonymous conversation and idea generation, and weekly surveys that let employees voice what they think from the security of their own keyboard, these tools give diverse types of employees what they need to communicate and contribute in their way, while helping manager track engagement and motivation in the workplace.