With introverts making up about third to a half of the population, it’s likely that your team is about one third introverts. The problem here is that the culture in your business and your boss maybe wasting those talents.
Diversity in the workplace
Former Education Secretary Justine Greening recently said “We can’t continue to be a country that only uses about a third of our human capital”; OK she was talking about social mobility, but her point is equally valid here.
Many companies have invested in improving diversity in the workplace, so that they get better ideas, better productivity and better results.
Groupthink is another issue that many companies suffer from. Groupthink is where people with similar thought processes are more likely to think similarly, all head in the same (wrong) direction and less likely to spot potentially catastrophic errors.
Yet the focus of diversity programmes has overwhelmingly been along the lines of gender, sexual orientation and race, usually in that order.
Let’s now consider introverts and extroverts as part of the diversity problem. Diversity isn’t about gender, race or sexual orientation; in business results it’s about creating a diversity of thinking.
Wasting a third of their talent?
The way that many firms run will encourage extroverts and extrovert behaviour, while looking down on introverts and making it harder for them to play a part in the company. In other words, cutting out a third of the talent. Worse than that, cutting out the third of their talent most likely to think differently, in detail and prevent groupthink.
Give me examples.
- Team meetings: The typical team meeting and way that teams are run, encourages louder people and discourages quieter ones. Even when the boss asks everybody think about something, the “rewards” normally go to the first voice to respond (normally the extrovert). For ideas on improving your team meetings, click here.
- The office layout: Introverts find it harder to concentrate in noisy environments (click here for more about this). Offices where people are more likely to chat together or interrupt each other may suit those who are energised by social interaction, but cause issues for introverts. What can be done, if you can’t change the office building? Sounds panels help, plants absorb some sound, quiet rooms, or even home working for some tasks all help.
- The work social: Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely see the benefit in teams getting to know each other in a different environment. But work socials will put introverts at a disadvantage unless they’re well planned.
Getting an extra 33% productivity.
To regain full productivity for the introverted 30-50% of the workforce takes thought, but its worth it. What will you first action be?