For the majority of our week the office is our home from home and our colleagues are our adopted family for 8.5 hours of the day – this combination brings a mix of different personalities, ways of thinking and behavioural traits ranging across the social spectrum, all under one roof. There are times when this mix between introverts and extroverts in the office can provoke challenges and misunderstanding. For example, in a recent nationwide study, when asked to explain the behaviour of extroverts, a group of introverts recounted the following traits;
“Loud, egotistical, disruptive, emotionally overpowering and disorganised.”
Similarly, when we reverse this, the extroverts described the group of introverts as;
“Shy, secretive, difficult to communicate with, unwilling to participate in group discussion and inflexible.”
There are many articles online which question “Which are the best people to have in the workplace – Introverts or Extroverts?”. Rather than discount an entire portion of the workforce however we at eXPD8 believe it is much more important to view the strengths each of these groups bring to the workplace and how can we better understand each other’s ways of working to bring service excellence first time…everytime to the working day within our #eXPD8Family. Here are some findings below which we think are key to understand when working together:
Introverts – Who are they?
Introverted employees typically enjoy autonomy and more often than not consider thoughts internally, thoroughly and consciously rather than airing thoughts as they come. Introverted employees are just as determined as their extroverted counterparts – they may not feel as psyched about presenting to a group of their peers on a stage or leading a group project however they are just as motivated and simply work differently and in a more self-governing fashion.
Introverts – How are they best communicated with?
Introverts typically prefer email as opposed to face-to-face interaction. What can be greatly respected by many introverts is to provide an agenda in advance – let your colleagues have time to digest this information privately and reflect on their contribution areas ahead of time. Similarly, in group meetings – be patient – allow your introverts to reflect on the detail of the meeting and consider arranging a follow up session to come back as a group and present their thoughts, it is unlikely you will get a whole host of verbal feedback right away with an introvert so get the best from them by allowing them time to digest.
An important factor if you line manage an introvert is to make sure you regularly recognise and motivate your introverted employees – it is easy for these colleagues to “fly under the radar” so regular scheduled communication is key.
Introverts – What benefits can they bring to the workplace?
- They are great listeners – they will really listen to customers or colleagues need to effectively delivery against the task set
- They are empathetic
- They are intently reliable
- They are good at spotting a problem and finding a solution to it
Extroverts – Who are they?
Extroverts typically seek out external input to fuel their output in day to day life. They thrive in team settings and in roles where contact with other people is overarching. These employees are less likely to fly under the radar as they are naturally more communicative than introverts. Extroverts love the spotlight, are energetic and typically do not have an issue in group discussions or voicing their opinions.
Extroverts – How are they best communicated with?
Extroverts typically enjoy phone or face to face conversations. With regards to office environment – having an open office or break out areas where your extroverts can work together to collaborate is a perfect setting. Extroverts are great at leading projects, motivating the team and being the “voice” of the task. As a line manager of a group of people however it’s important to ensure extroverts do not occupy more time than others in a meeting setting. Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, founder of The Introvert Whisperer blog. “An extrovert tends to think out loud by talking [and] gains energy both by talking as well as by [interacting] with others. This means that some of what you hear from them may be all part of working through their thinking.” – again it is a good idea, as with introverts to ask the team to come back to a follow up meeting with their complete and reflected ideas.
Extroverts – What benefits can they bring to the workplace?
- Comfortable and at ease in group presentations and group work
- Excellent motivators and team players
- They are flexible to new ways of working and change – a ready flow of ideas always available
- They express their feelings clearly, readily and easily
How can line managers best manage and motivate these groups?
Each group brings a whole host of important attributes to the workplace and although they may interact and work in different ways from each other, under the right conditions and under the right management these groups can thrive together and bring a varied viewpoint on any given project. It is important to set a firm agenda and outline your expectations for both groups – for your introverts, this will give structure and a sense of clarity. For your extroverts, this will keep them on track and to task. Similarly, in a meeting environment it is important to ensure all voices are heard – be patient and allow for clearly formulated ideas, perhaps schedule a follow up meeting for both groups to come back with their formulated ideas. In terms of the working environment, it is important to create a space which allows for privacy whilst also offering breakout sections for collaborative working. It is intensly important to hold regularly, 121 sessions also – at eXPD8 we have 121s with our line manager every month which keeps track of objectives but also gives us that key 121 time with our line manager to consider our thoughts, feelings and contribute towards our overarching business objectives – everyone has a chance regularly to be heard.
At eXPD8 we have and welcome a diverse team of employees and credit this way of working to the blue sky thinking our teams offer!
If you want to spend the majority of your day in a place you feel valued, whichever side of the fence you sit on, get in touch today!
Client Services Controller