How to manage introverted employees
Introverts are not necessary quiet, but are people who prefer the quiet. Every workplace has its fair share of introverts, and dealing with them without making them uncomfortable can be a challenge, especially if you are not an introvert yourself.
You might have noticed that they prefer being alone, working by themselves and needing more than than others to ‘recharge their batteries’. They’re not big for small talk, and sometimes, their silence can come across as being uncaring. However, this is not true. Introverts are reserved people who prefer time on their own and less social interaction. This does not mean they do not care for other people or that they can’t work well in a group.
Introverts can be power houses at work if one knows how to tap into their resources and what they can offer. Especially for employers and managers, it is important to understand how introverts work and function so as to not leave them out and to make most of what they can offer.
Here is how one can manage introverted employees.
#1. Respect their space
Introverts are highly sensitive people who are aware of their surroundings more than others are. They observe greatly and are easily more stimulated than the rest. In offices, they huddle to a place and make it their corner, and prefer it to be away from crowds or noisy areas. Providing them a quiet space so that they can work well is essential.
Introverts work best when they work independently, so giving them space where they are not constantly interrupted is essential to tap into what they can offer as employees.
#2. Give them time
Introverts often need a lot of personal time to recharge and gather their thoughts. Being surrounded by people can drain them of mental energy, not because they do not like people but they prefer being by themselves more.
They can, however, produce great ideas if given the right amount of time to heal and recover from working in a fast-paced environment. After a meeting, give them time to take off steam and present feedback an hour or so after the meeting. Asking them to tell you what they think right away can scare them away and can make them uncomfortable.
#3. Keep it quiet
Introverts enjoy the silence because it gives them a chance to think and be alone with their thoughts. They are most productive when there is a quiet atmosphere around them, and it also helps them recharge. Introverts are quiet because they are probably coming up with some new idea or because the idea has already been said. They prefer talking only when absolutely necessary.
Keeping the office quiet ensures that productivity increases.
#4. Initiate virtual communication
Instead of sticking to speaking to them face to face, try communicating with your introvert employee virtually through messages or on Slack or email. They can give you a lot more ideas through these tools, for it reduces the burden of a face-to-face conversation for them. It’s easier for introverts to communicate virtually than to speak out loud, which is something that they avoid.
This gives them more freedom to build their answers to questions and explain things in greater detail, because now they have the time to think before answering.
#5. Speak up for them
It goes without saying that sometimes, introverts struggle when it comes to speaking up during meetings or while giving presentations. However, these things are inevitable when in a workplace. It is always important to provide answers, and speak up.
However, sometimes, it’s better to be an advocate for these quiet voices as well. This does not mean you speak for them all the time, but instead, it captures subtler things. You can give them time and the chance to speak and present their ideas, and make sure that no one interrupts them while they are doing so.
When you are recruiting introverts, you must keep in mind that despite popular opinion that the charismatic people are preferred, introverts can offer just as much. One should try and recognize them and reward them for their efforts—without making them talk about it.
Introverts are just like other people, with a slight difference in personality. It is essential that as a manager you can notice differences but the good in people—even if they are introverted. Because, despite the quietness, they can offer a lot more than one would otherwise think.