How you get the best out of your introverted employees

We live in a world where extrovert qualities such as outgoing and social are described in almost every job ad. But how often are introvert traits mentioned? Unfortunately, there is a huge lack of knowledge about the concepts of introvert and extrovert, particularly speaking of introversion. Is your image of an introverted person “that boring IT technician at your job who is wearing the same sweater every day and eats lunch alone in his office”? If so, it is time to reconsider.

Introverts and extroverts have different approaches to work. Extroverts tend to dive into the work directly. They tend to make quick decisions, go with their gut feeling, are not afraid to take risks and puts their attention on several tasks simultaneously. Introverts however, tend to take it easy and slowly. They prefer to focus on one task at a time and shows a remarkable concentration skill which means they generally reach a higher level of specialization in their field. They do not become restless as quickly as extroverts and for jobs that have a lot of routine tasks, they usually have a more long-term future than an extrovert who may tire of the tasks after a few months.

That said, it is easy to conclude that many developers tend to be introverted. They are people who can sit for hours and code without giving up, and they may not be the first ones to socialize during the coffee break. But what you do get is a pure delivery machine.

To summarize, you probably understand that the ideal workplace is one that combines extroverted and introverted colleagues. A successful company needs both people who accelerates and hits the brakes. But for those who are still unsure of how to get the best out of introverted employees here are some helpful advice.

  1. You will most likely not recognize introverted employees. Many introverts adapts themselves to the group and have learned to pretend to be extroverted. If you want to know if someone is introverted, just ask.

  2. Do not interpret silence as pessimism. Many introverts often sit quietly during the meeting, but that does not mean they are indifferent or have a negative attitude. On the inside they are most likely analysing everything and usually you can expect to receive your feedback via e-mail after the meeting instead.

  3. Eye contact and interest are not related. Just because a colleague is not looking you in the eye when one of you is talking does not mean that the he or she is not interested in what’s being said. It could very likely be the opposite. Introverts tend to focus more on what is said, not how it is said, and to look away can be the introverted way to concentrate.

  4. Being social is not the same as having social skills. Introverts don’t dislike either relationships or meetings, but social events can be a real energy thief. Don’t assume that introverted colleagues are less compatible in social situations. They can be very proficient in smaller meetings with fewer people.

  5. Shyness is not the same thing as being introverted. A shy person often have a phobia of being the center of a social situation. An introvert only lacks the interest to be the life of the party.

  6. Focus more on communication through text. Try to communicate via chat or email rather than taking spontaneous visits by your colleague’s desk. It lets your colleague consider it all when he or she has the time and have had time to think it through thoroughly.

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