Introverts may be some of your best employees. Ignore them at your own risk!
“To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It's not about winning and losing; it's about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It's about embracing the pain that you'll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid. I think people think too hard and get afraid of a certain challenge." - Summer Sanders.
What separates a silent, introverted worker from a relatively extroverted one bent on the attainment of small goals is the fact that the former’s growth rate is more consistent than that of the latter. Studies show that speaking your goal aloud to another person reduces your chance of achieving them, as the brain tends to lose motivation and thus momentum towards it.
Introverts often get the shorter end of the stick by being misunderstood, overlooked or otherwise under-appreciated. On top of that, their needs can be unintentionally ignored or taken for granted. Perhaps your introverted employee exhibits higher levels of conflict avoidance. He or she may feel that approaching others with a personal matter may seem trivial, improper, or distracting.
The silent worker or the "worker bee" in the corporate world is not necessarily a detriment. An unspoken stigma still lingers. To some, they seem standoffish or distant. Interactions may be interpreted as blunt or cold. It's easy to write off quiet workers as anti-social.
In reality, these individuals have their internal priorities set differently from others. They value introspection, innovative ideas and self-reflection more than they do social interaction and/or another’s opinion about a particular subject. Unfortunately, this may be why certain introverts come across as proud and obstinate at times. Due to their typical wallflower nature, we tend to overlook their important attributes that actually help the team achieve higher efficiency.
What are these attributes?
- Calm and poise during tense situations that may unsettle the rest.
- Stoic nature helps the team focus on goals despite distractions
- Hawk-eye attention to detail catches problems and glitches
How to Nurture Your Introverted Employees
Don't Break His Bubble
Give him his space. Let him rejuvenate his mind and soul in his bubble. Introverts spend energy through social interactions. That's not to say they're against socializing. Social interactions require more investment and effort.
When the individual is clear about his role in the team, it is easier for him to identify and achieve goals at the singular and the team levels. More importantly, it's imperative to instill a sense of ownership. These articulated responsibilities help set expectations and time-frames. Here, introverts can enjoy the autonomy of pursuing their own paths in producing deliverables.
Encourage, But Don't Enforce Interaction
Explore virtual possibilities. The employee may not necessarily be taciturn but just laconic in nature. Pay attention to his word because even though he may talk less, he usually says more. Thus, any feedback you collect may be inherently vital information. It's not quantity but a matter of quality.
Test different messaging methods and communicative styles. Maybe an internal chat system like Gchat or Slack is suitable. Perhaps regular email correspondence is preferred. Gradually introduce more interactive functions (video conferencing, face-to-face status meetings, group summits) as you see your employee gaining confidence and momentum.
Success often speaks to those who listen closely and “listen” respelt is “silent."
The Silent Worker may not be like you, but he can definitely like you if you give him a fair chance. Success often speaks to those who listen closely and “listen” re-spelt is “silent." Do not lose of your introverted employees as they may be truly indispensable resources. Great leadership recognizes the collision of different personalities and builds an agile culture that anticipates needs and pressures. Subsequent policies and procedures are designed to handle introversion, extraversion, and the optimal balance of both.