One key skill that any manager should have is the ability to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and personalities of employees and know how to utilize that skill, strategically. Every person has a different way of working and to enforce unyielding blanket rules or methods in the workplace can really stifle the unique abilities of an individual. To address this diversity of temperament, employers will need to practise empathy and openness in order to maximize the potential of all their workers, from the quietest of introverts to the most exuberant of extroverts.
Do Some Research
There are plenty of expert-written resources online about personality types. A popular book is The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, which highlights the typically overlooked yet valuable position that introverts occupy in society and the benefits of seeing things from their point of view. In general, however, it can be noted that extroverts tend to be impulsive, like to think out loud, and enjoy multitasking. Conversely, introverts prefer to work slowly and thoughtfully on one thing at a time, and they dislike loud noises and crowded spaces.
Restructure Workspace and Time
Allotting physical space and scheduled time for introverts and extroverts gives them both what they need to do their best. In most cases, introverts need quiet, unbusy spaces to work but extroverts require dynamic, loud spaces to express themselves. Make sure to have both within the office floorplan to accommodate differing personalities. The same provision can be done with meeting times as well. For example, deliberately arranging meetings only in the afternoon as an informal company practise will help both introverts and extroverts mentally prepare for high and low interaction times and minimize distractions.
Make sure introverts are given time to talk during meetings (but don’t put them on the spot without warning!) and that extroverts don’t completely dominate the airspace. Have honest, one-to-one conversations with each team member and find out what kind of set up they prefer in order to thrive at work. Be flexible and aware of people’s various needs. As some introverts may take time to gather their thoughts, give them the option to prepare to express themselves in writing instead of asking for an immediate verbal response.
Let the Team Get to Know Each Other
Not everyone will know how to work with everyone else when they first meet. Set aside time for employees to know each others’ quirks, do self-assessments of their personalities, and respectfully communicate with each other their differences. Have a frank conversation about what introverts and extroverts need in order to excel and make sure everyone can be on the same page. Be transparent about the tailored treatment that people may receive. It’s important to be flexible but make sure the company doesn’t show favouritism to one group over the other. Build a strong team with a basis of mutual consideration.
Rose Ho | Staff Writer