If you have a team of introverts to manage, consider yourself lucky. Introverts have great insights and listen well. They are independent and observant. Having them on your team is valuable.
However, as an extrovert, you have a different communication and working style from them. You may find it difficult to connect or understand your introverted subordinates. Sometimes, they may even seem a little aloof and unapproachable to you. So how do you nurture their talent and get them to contribute more?
Here are 7 ways to help you manage your teams of introverts well.
Never interrupt your introverted subordinates when they are talking. It takes time and effort for them to process and share their thoughts with you. Extroverts have the tendency to brainstorm out loud in groups. But refrain from adding your inputs before your introverted subordinates complete their speech.
Brainstorming out loud is ineffective to introverts. Not only are your breaking their train of thoughts, but they may think you aren’t receptive to new ideas. So they may not share their ideas with you in the future.
2. Give them time to think.
Don’t get your introverted subordinates to share their opinions on the spot, especially in a meeting. You won’t get much out of them. Introverts need time away from people to reflect on their own. They need to formulate their ideas and thoughts before sharing with others.
Instead of asking them to contribute spontaneously at a meeting, give them the questions or detailed agendas a day before the meeting. This gives them ample time to prepare and think about the problems. You will be amazed by how many insights they contribute when you do that.
3. Divide them into smaller teams.
Introverts work better in one-in-one setting and smaller groups. If your team is too big, you may consider dividing your team into smaller sub-teams. These allow introverts to forge better relationships and communicate with one another better.
This applies to team-building activities too. If you are organizing games for your team, divide them into smaller groups. The participatory level of introverts increases as the group gets smaller.
4. Use written communication.
Sometimes, the best way to communicate with introverts is to use written communication, such as emails. Group chat messenger is also useful to build the relationship of the team members.
Written communication is better for introverts because it’s less simulating. Introverts get overwhelmed quickly from face-to-face interactions. They pick up non-verbal body cues and energy from others during conversations too. Thus, they get tired easily from verbal communication.
5. Provide them a quiet work space.
Introverts need a private and quiet place to work. They find it hard to concentrate at work when their colleagues are constantly talking and interrupting them. Some of them may even get so frustrated and unhappy with their lack of productivity that they feel resentment towards their fellow co-workers.
If possible, give introverts their own cubicles. Give them the peace and space to work independently. If this is not possible, at least separate them from your other extroverted subordinates. Allocate a room for people who want to work quietly so that they can work without interruptions.
6. Redesign your performance appraisal.
Never judge your introverted subordinates’ work capability by their ability to socialize and communicate with people. They will feel unappreciated and unfair because being quiet is their strength. It allows them to collect information and be analytical.
Furthermore, talking less doesn’t mean they are bad communicators. They connect with people well by listening to them intently. They can achieve the outcome you want but with a different method. So their performance should be appraised based on the work they have done and not how similar they are to you.
7. Allow them to be themselves.
As a manager or a boss, it’s your duty to bring out the best in your team. Motivating them to improve themselves is good, but don’t pressure your team members to be someone they aren’t.
Don’t make social or networking events compulsory for them. Give them a choice. Introverts don’t get as much value from these events as extroverts do. Also, don’t force them to go for presentation workshops if they aren’t interested. You should tap on their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses.
Featured photo credit: Encuentro de Empresas del Sector Turístico / Franklin Tello via flickr.com