Not all employees are the same. On one hand there are employees who are outgoing, and can be assigned with tasks such as public speaking and meeting up with clients. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who prefer isolated tasks instead, such as analytical or creative work.
Thus, it goes without saying that there are extroverts and introverts in the workplace. As the title indicates, the focus of this article will be on how to motivate Introverts because of all their potential just waiting to be untapped. Though generally perceived as shy or lacking initiative, introverts actually just need a little push so that they can shine in their own way. After all, the world would be missing out if famous introverts such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Albert Einstein were not given an opportunity to show the world what they’re made of.
Introverts are actually under great pressure in the workplace. Forbes.com puts it succinctly: “Introverts may worry that they’ll be overlooked for promotions, or overshadowed by their gregarious colleagues. To compensate for their uncertainty and self-doubt about their quiet personalities, introverts frequently go to great lengths to masquerade as extroverts. Too often, introverts struggle to behave more like their social, talkative, and charming colleagues – only to end up feeling drained and frustrated by trying so hard to be someone else.”
Thus, how can the office activate its introverted employees? Here are 5 core principles on how to motivate introverts at the workplace.
1. Maximize strengths, minimize weaknesses.
To unlock the potential of introverts, they must be given opportunities where they can play to their strengths. To know what these strengths are, it would of course require familiarizing and getting to know them first. This is where the HR department would come in handy. Armed with their psychological tests, activities, and team building exercises, the HR would be instrumental in profiling the employees – such is valuable information to the employer.
Rather than trying to change the introverts and compelling them to be more sociable, it would be best to delegate them to tasks where they can shine. For instance, instead of forcing them to discuss the presentation in front of clients, it would be better to assign them to make the powerpoint slides and paperwork instead. By putting them behind the scenes, it would put them in their element rather than setting them up for anxiety and failure.
2. Group the right people for the job
In line with maximizing strengths, the employer should also seek the right balance when grouping employees together. A purely introverted group may get research and paperwork done, but they might be lacking in persuasiveness when pitching a deal. On the other hand, an all extrovert group may be too full of energy and would have a tendency to “wing it” in presentations, disregarding the finer details of the paperwork.
The employer should thus strive to balance out the employees in a group. By doing so, they would work as a cohesive team, where they will complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
3. Give equitable opportunities for growth
There’s still a cultural bias towards extroverts in the workplace. Due to their friendly and conversant nature, they are perceived to be more hands-on and experienced overall. As a result, introverts are often overlooked in the salary and promotion department. Business Insider’s article “Why extroverts earn more money than introverts” takes note of interesting observations:
“In a report on career achievement and personality type, Truity Psychometrics found that extroverts dominate the high-earning end of the spectrum. The two top-earning personality types are ESTJ (which stands for Extroverted Sensing Thinking Judging) and ENTJ (Extroverted Intuitive Thinking Judging). [In the US,] they make average annual salaries of $77,000 and $76,000, respectively.
The problem is that most people assume extroverts will be more effective leaders simply because they’re more talkative — and therefore don’t always consider introverts for high-paying top positions.”
Thus, the employer should give equitable opportunities for growth. Equitable is the key factor here; not equal. It means that it must be commensurate to this ability, where the employer considers the overall value which the employee brings to the table. Who knows, the next Mark Zuckerberg may just be in one of those office cubicles, waiting for his potential to be unleashed.
4. Help new employees transition and fit in
To get through to introverts, sometimes all you need is an opener. Introverts are usually shy about taking the first step; but don’t mistake it as a lack of initiative.
The office should therefore exert earnest efforts in helping new employees transition and fit in the company. There are numerous ways of doing so: onboarding, assigning a mentor, or through team building exercises. By making them feel like they belong, they would no longer have useless worries or anxieties and would thus focus on getting the job done.
Don’t forget to tap the company’s HR department because they play a huge role in shaping employee relations and company culture.
5. Communication is key
Last but not the least, encourage communication within the office. There should be a general openness between all the employees and managers wherein the ultimate goal should be to solve problems, get things done, and to provide good service to the customers.
In the end, the things left unsaid will be the ones that spell all the difference. Disastrous deals and missed deadlines can be avoided if only everyone has each other’s back.
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.” ~ Susan Cain