Managers responsible for the performance of introverts and extroverts who work together are often challenged when one outgoing team member overshadows other more reserved employees in social or work situations.
As an introvert, I can appreciate how a reserved person may hold back in the presence of what he or she perceives to be a boisterous or overly confident colleague in a meeting or a company event.
Managers may find themselves on a slippery slope. They are faced with encouraging reserved people to show their best ideas while shushing extroverts who may in turn feel they are being shut down.
It can be challenging to find the time (and the right messaging) to suggest to an employee that they either speak up or speak less. This individual approach can lead to resentment and further encourage behaviour that lies at opposite ends of the scale. A key thing to realize is that it would be uninspiring to be leading a team where everyone was the same, so you are setting out to have your team work together, not change people. It's up to you as a leader to bring out the qualities in each team member that complement the others' qualities.
Here are some tips to help ensure that extroverts and introverts alike have a voice and are allowed to contribute to the team in their own ways.
- Ensure that introverts and extroverts are together at the same meetings and social events. This will help both groups come to understand each other better and learn about the benefits of each personality type.
- If you plan it well in advance, role playing where team members take turns taking the client and the company roles can build trust and confidence. Both groups will find it safe and fun when they can freely assume someone else's identity.
- Rather than encourage only introverts to take interpersonal communications skills development courses, encourage all team members to participate. That way, introverts and extroverts can learn from one another about how to dial it up or down, as the case may be.
- Keep brainstorming sessions and team meetings small and on-track -- and schedule them well in advance. Encourage participants to write down their ideas in bullet points on a piece of paper and submit them to you. With each piece of paper in front of you, you can draw on these points to help introverts express themselves more willingly and keep extroverts on topic as they describe their ideas.
- You may have a disproportionately high ratio of introverts to extroverts, or vice-versa. Regardless, consider hosting team social events over lunch in surroundings that are familiar to everyone, such as at the office where all will feel comfortable and more inclined to interact.
Despite your efforts to encourage both groups to better communicate with others, chances are they will continue to behave in a way that makes them most comfortable. After all, distinguishing yourself in the workplace can be challenging enough without having to add acting to your personal branding repertoire.
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