How to understand an introverted employee

Last updated Jan 7, 2021 | Managing Introverts

How to understand an introverted employee

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In your team there’s probably a mixture of amazing people, some are always talking extroverts, and some are much quieter introverts. It’s quite possible you find the introverts harder to get to know, harder to understand and perhaps harder to get to interact with your team.

What is an introvert?

Introverts can be great people and superb assets to your business, in the same way as anybody else. But let’s start with a quick overview of what an introvert is.

The main points are:

  • Introverts tend to lose energy when mixing with others. The more people they’re surrounded with and the less they know these people, the more draining it can be.
  • Introverts tend to process their thoughts in their heads, so can take longer before answering. That doesn’t mean they’re slow, or dim witted, as their answers are often richer and contain more relevant detail than the answers given more quickly.

How to understand an Introverted employee

If you want to get more from the people in your team, it’s best to understand a bit more about them. Introverts are often less understood than more gregarious people. Here’s seven ideas to help understand an introvert in your team

  1. Don’t be overly suspicious: Introverts are more likely to be quiet. They’re not shying away from you or uninterested in their role in the team. They are probably being thoughtful, introverts tend to examine their surroundings.
  2. Don’t assume Introverts are shy: It’s easy to make the mistake of assuming introverts are shy people (for whom conversations can be very hard). Introverts tend to lose energy when it comes to external stimulation. Unlike extroverts, who get their energy from other people, introverts charge up their energy from within, and it drains the longer they speak to other people.
  3. Introverts aren’t afraid to speak: A common assumption is that introverts are afraid to speak. This probably because they’re choose who they want to spend their time with and when their energy is best used in group conversations.  The problem with this is that many business discussions “reward” those who speak first and fast, and that excludes a lot of the richer and more detailed thinking from your introverts. Click here for more ideas about including your introverts in meetings.
  4. Introverts aren’t anti-social: Introverts may not choose to go out to social event every day, especially the “work social”; but they’re not anti social. The trick is to create “team building” events that won’t cause them  to drain so much energy.
  5. Introverts don’t like small talk: Introverts don’t prefer meaningless discussion as it does nothing but drain their limited social energy without giving real benefits. Small talk if often repeated, predictable and meaningless dialogue. Instead of asking your introverted team member how their evening was, ask more specific questions about their general interests.
  6. Introverts need their quiet time: Even fully involved introverted team members need quiet time. This is how they recover their energy. Don’t be insulted when an introvert wants to be left alone. After they’re done recharging themselves, they’ll jump back to you with many things to say.
  7. Introverts and the phone: It’s quite possible that your introverts will prefer to face to face time over the phone. On the phone there are less non verbal cues and it can be harder to keep a conversation going. If you were face to face, any silent parts of the conversation are more easily understood and managed.

Why bother understanding introverts?

In many teams the structure and way the team is run tends to disfavour the introvert. As introverts can easily be 33%-50% of your team, you can easily be losing productivity, creativity and diversity of thinking. All three are important to your business.

Understanding your introverts will allow you to increase the ways they contribute to the team and you’ll get a better business.

Do introverts make good team members?

Absolutely yes. In fact, introverts tend to value belonging to a team and will be loyal to it. If you’ve bothered to make them a respected and welcomed part of your team, you’ll be rewarded with team members who really help the team gel and work effectively.

Do introverts make good employees?

Absolutely yes. In fact, introverts tend to value feeling that they belong and can be very loyal employees. When you’ve taken the time to understand them, you’ll be rewarded with very loyal, creativity and hard working employees.

If you want more ideas on getting the introverts in your team to become more productive, so you can tackle the 33% productivity gap that exists in many firms, let’s have a conversation.

You may also like to read:

Or listen to: 

An interview with Helene Jewell of the International Association of Facilitators on how to improve your meetings.

You may also like to read:

Or listen:

Gina Gardiner is well known for her leadership expertise and illuminates the way for enlightened leaders to create a more profitable & meaningful mission. Here’s our discussion on leadership and managing introverts.

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