Wall Flower Power

Introverts get a bad rap for being shy, but when managed right they can your star employees.

Wall Flower Power

We all know an extrovert or two. You can hear them before you see them, they’re confident, spontaneous, sociable, and they’re natural leaders.

Then there are introverts. The quiet, shy types who tend to get passed over for their attentionloving counter-parts. But here’s the thing about introverts: They tend to be better thinkers, planners and analysers, they’re self-reflective and responsible, they have amazing focus skills, have the ability to forge strong, long-term relationships and they work well one-on-one.

So learning how to manage your shy introvert can be the key to unlocking potential in your business’s success.

Who’s who in your zoo

In your business can you point out which employee is which type? Take a minute to watch them. The person who is seeking out others to chit chat or suggesting brainstorming sessions to solve problems is likely to be your extrovert.

The one who sits by themselves at lunch or heads off to a quiet corner to go over meeting notes is probably an introvert.

How to handle your introvert

  1. Give them time to think. Introverts perform better when they have a chance to think about ideas or meeting topics in advance. Create an agenda in advance to get them to participate. If that’s not possible, give your introvert time after meetings to reflect and get back to you with thoughts and ideas.
  2. Give them space. Too much external stimuli can be draining for introverts. If it’s not possible to let them work in a quieter office or cubicle, at least have a space where they can retreat, giving them refuge from the sensory onslaught of an open workspace and extroverts. They may also do better with more independent work.
  3. Plan early meetings. Introverts tend to have more energy at the beginning of the day, so try to time important meetings before lunch when their energy is highest. At this point, they haven’t been exhausted by dealing with other people and the hustle and bustle of the office all day. If that’s not possible, give them time to plan in advance and an opportunity to think through the meeting discussion and get back to you later.
  4. Be comfortable with silence. When talking with your introvert, give them time to think and respond. Don’t be afraid of silence, filling every pause with conversation. If you’re managing an introverted team member, don’t let others interrupt or speak over him or her. Help your introvert speak their mind.
  5. Seek their feedback. Get answers and information from introverts in ways that make them more comfortable. Instead of expecting them to hold their own in meetings and spontaneous discussions, seek them out for one-on-one chats or ask for feedback in email. Good managers create environments where employees can express themselves and thrive.
About the Author
Gwen Moran is co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans.

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