How to empower an introvert at work

Management of people is about many skills, and it is dependent on the application of that knowledge, to effect behaviour that creates an impact within the business. Knowing you’re team and how they respond to situations requires thought and sensitivity, with a willingness to understand and accept difference. To be humbly aware that we are all growing and developing, in what is often the only way we know how.
For a company, it is important to consider the way in which preferred learning styles and behaviours are engaged. To consider how our peoples learning and behaviours can not only be engaged, but also how to maximise their creative potential and learning on an individual basis and for the wellbeing and success of the company.

How will we recognise introversion?
The first thing to recognise is that we are never either an introvert or an extrovert; we are all somewhere in the middle of the two. The extrovert is by nature, motivated by being around others socially, and is generally energised by people and activities. The extrovert may recover their energy levels by going out to a very full on social event, one that takes them into the early hours of the morning, being able to arrive at work the next day fully recharged. The introvert might want to refuel by reading, listening to music or a walk in the country. Our preference for learning and engagement are different depending upon how and where we get our energy from and what our experience has taught us. All these factors inform where we are in relation to the two extreme descriptions of behaviour.
Some well-known characteristics of the more introverted nature are that they are not keen on self-promotion. They like and prefer thinking time, and time alone. So lunch times they may choose to go off to a quiet place, rather than spending time in a group.
Introversion learning and behavioural style is to prefer time to consider, evaluate and review therefore, the workplace team practices could play a role in creating more suitable communication platforms that lend themselves to optimising a preference that includes particular introverted styles of learning.

Some examples of workplace learning and practices more compatible to the introverted character:

Introducing thoughts about a project or idea in advance, rather than opting for the group think tank, or brainstorm situation.

When in group activities respecting silence and space-asking if there are any particular ways which groups or individuals prefer to work or contribute.

Avoiding interruption during group feedback.

To implement virtual methods of communication – this will enable each individual their own contribution time, space with the subject. This would enable more extroverted learning styles to opt for group contact and inclusion.
The final presentation of ideas could be completed virtually, giving a degree of distance from the group if preferred, choice being the deciding factor for the individual.
To use virtual communication throughout the project development process could be an exercise to create opportunity highlighting personal preference.

This process can lean towards enabling the more charismatic characteristics, leaving the quieter nature and character to feel alienated.
There has been a general corporate recruitment trend over recent years towards incorporating scenarios as part of the interviewing process. These scenario settings are designed to gain the reaction of the candidate and gain insight into their coping strategies and personalities. This type of interviewing process could include on the spot interaction with a group on a given subject, or a presentation, where the subject matter is given on the day, or a scenario setting that could include actors performing and engaging with candidate’s to estimate behaviour and reaction. All these methods could deter the mainly introverted nature and character from being able to present their potential fully.
We need to consider how the quieter person’s attributes and their potential can be engaged to enable them to show their potential to the panel, and how we can be inclusive towards gaining insight into their personality’s behaviour and potential.

By building thoughtful and varied workplace practices from the initial stages of the recruitment process and building appropriate communication methods, we can encourage choice and inclusion for all learning styles. By engaging people collectively with working methods of choice that are complimentary to the optimisation of the individual learning and creativity we can influence and impact business performance.

Hazel Rowell-Peverley