Most workplaces are set up and run in a way that is much more accommodating of extroverted employees. But introverted employees could have just as much value to offer as their more outspoken, social colleagues. To avoid letting your introverted employees slip through the cracks or feel uncomfortable in the office, here are four useful strategies for managing introverts in the workplace:
Embrace Different Forms of Communication
Not everyone loves face-to-face communication. While there are numerous advantages to interpersonal communication, constant meetings with large groups of employees can be exhausting for introverts. This isn’t to say you should get rid of interpersonal contact entirely just to accommodate the introverts. Instead, look for other ways you can more successfully communicate with introverted employees;
Be Mindful of Public Speaking Anxiety
Almost everyone suffers from public speaking anxiety to some degree, but introverts typically find public speaking to be more terrifying compared to extroverts. Although public speaking may be an inevitable part of their jobs, you can lessen their speech anxiety by offering modest accommodations, such as shorter speech times, allowing them to use visual aids like PowerPoints, limiting the number of audience members, and reminding other employees to remain respectful during presentations.
Create Opportunities for Feedback
Introverts in the workplace are often silenced by extroverted colleagues who are more than happy to voice their opinions and verbalize their ideas in meetings. With limited timeframes for meetings and conference calls, the extroverts might unintentionally dominate conversations, leaving little to no time for introverts to contribute to the discussion.
While the extroverts might have some great ideas, you won’t be able to maximize your team’s creativity and efficiency if the introverts never get a chance to speak up. As a leader, it’s your job to create opportunities for every member of the team to offer input. This may be as simple as directly asking some of your introverted employees for their opinions.
Make Socializing Optional
All too often, companies host social gatherings and parties with the assumption that everyone wants to attend these functions. Unfortunately for introverts, these non-work-related events can be mentally exhausting to deal with, as small talk with colleagues and schmoozing with new people from other departments simply doesn’t come naturally to them.