Tips for Managing Introverts

Both introverts and extroverts can be equally as good at their jobs, but it is possible they will benefit from different types of support from their manager. In this post we focus on ways to help managers effectively communicate and motivate introverts.

Introverts are generally people who gather their energy from within and are more likely to be reflective, private and quiet in groups of people they don't know well. It is often assumed, therefore, that introverts always want to be alone and that they actively try to avoid social situations and interaction. This isn’t the case at all; introverts can be very sociable, they will simply show their thoughts, ideas and appreciation in different ways. Here are a few ideas for how you can successfully manage introverts in your business.

Understand that alone-time is time well spent

Typically, introverts get their energy from spending time on their own so be mindful of this when allocating tasks to your employees. It’s possible an introvert will be happier – and more productive - working alone rather than in a team. That said, introverts often don’t want to be on their own all the time so don’t assign them tasks that mean they don't see or speak to other people all day, every day. If possible, a mixture of group and individual duties will help introverts enjoy their time at work, and feel part of the team.

Preparation and patience

Introverts are more comfortable in meetings if they’ve had a little time to prepare so they will appreciate an agenda and relevant documents being sent to them before any team gatherings or one-on-one sessions. Whilst an extrovert might be great at giving spontaneous responses to questions, introverts would prefer to have had chance to process the information and prepare their responses. It's also true that introverts will become more comfortable talking in public after they've got to know their colleagues and supervisors well, so be patient with them if you want them to be more outspoken - it will happen in time.

Discover what they enjoy doing

While an extrovert will feel comfortable sharing what they enjoy and what their hobbies and interests are, it can be harder to understand what an introvert really loves doing, be it inside or outside work. Take the time to understand what they enjoy or find out a few things about them and this may help you understand what they like doing at work. It will also show them that you are approachable and interested in them.

Encourage participation indirectly

An introvert is less likely to get involved in team meetings and will be happy letting others publicly express their thoughts. However, this doesn’t mean that introverts are lacking in good ideas or feedback. It's important to encourage everyone to have their chance to speak, though this may mean giving introverts extra reassurance that they don't need to talk too much. For example, at the beginning of a team meeting you could ask every person to give their feedback about a particular topic and perhaps limit the time they speak to a minute so that introverts know they have to prepare something, but they won’t be expected to talk forever.

Emails are OK!

Alternatively, if you think an introverted member of your team has something to say but is reluctant to do so in front of others, follow-up with them by email. This removes them from the public or social setting and gives them plenty of time and distance to say what they would like. Giving them time to reflect and not expecting immediate responses can help introverts to come up with their best ideas

Working from home

It’s possible that an introvert is likely to be more productive working from home, getting their energy from their own familiar calm setting rather than a busy workspace. Giving them the chance to work from home occasionally could result in an increase in their productivity, and it also shows that you trust them to manage their own time successfully.

Show gratitude, quietly

Like everyone, introverts value small tokens of appreciation. It’s worth noting, however, that introverts may prefer a more personal gesture rather than a showy thank you in front of others. Some good suggestions you could consider include a quick email, a coffee or a short, handwritten note, just to let them know you value their work.

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