In recent years, we have seen businesses move from an individualized approach to team oriented collaboration. The cubicle walls have been cut in half, and more and more organizations are creating teams- and I am not just talking about the sales department. This new structure has proven extremely beneficial to some and nerve racking and intimidating to others. The stigma surrounding the comparison of extroverted individuals and introverted tends to lean towards the more outgoing, personable employee. This is a very limited way of thinking. While you may not throw your shy and to-themselves employee into a presentation in front of many people, they do provide valuable traits to your business- they just need the right atmosphere that supports their way of doing things.
Introverts are defined as, “a shy, reticent person” while extroverts are described as, “outgoing and overtly expressive.” One has been known to talk through their thought process while the other seems more analytical in that they process then speak. IT IS CRUCIAL TO KNOW WHO IS WHO. While just about all of us encompass traits of both ends of the spectrum, we can probably all agree that we identify with one of the definitions. We need not rely solely on assumptions to tell us where each of our employees fall. There are countless personality tests are available for managers to utilize with the most common being the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator. The test provides 16 type descriptions based of each individual’s answers and allows managers to understand the needs and preferences of each individual they oversee.
Following the MBTI results, it would seem silly and counterproductive to treat all employees the same when it comes to how they work best. Provide options for your employees! This doesn’t have to mean undoing the collaboration style work areas but simply leaving more quiet areas for the introverts to choose to work- rather than throwing them into the heart of the office chaos. It is also a good idea to send out meeting agendas ahead of time. While your extroverted employees will blurt out comments and questions in meetings, the introverted staff may not act so quickly. Giving them time to digest the info and form questions will prove beneficial. There is no true clear- cut prescription on how to balance office differences. There are, however, ways to promote individual skills without putting people on the spot or assuming that everyone in the office has the same needs. Finally, you need to constantly be taking a step back and reviewing how the changes are working. In the recent age, it seems that we need to focus more on caring for the introverts, but we should not care for them so much that we limit the extroverts. It is crucial to know who falls under what character description and put plans in place to maximize as many people’s individual strengths as possible.