Introverted and extroverted personalities can clash in the workplace, but knowing how your employees work best is essential to building a cohesive and high-performing team, Rebecca Knight writes for Harvard Business Review.
Knight lays out how to tailor your management style to get the most out of employees of all personality types.
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Assess your team. The first step is sorting out the introverts and the extroverts—and those in-between—by having open conversations with your coworkers. Knight suggests asking your colleagues about what their preferred work environments are and how they recharge to get a better sense of where everyone stands.
Let introverts be heard. Researchers estimate that in a six-person meeting, two people do the majority of the talking—and it's more skewed the larger the group. You need to make introverted employees "feel comfortable enough to contribute," says Harvard University professor Francesca Gino. Send meeting agendas in advance, and let those who are more introverted know you're interested in their insight on a specific agenda item—giving them time to craft an answer rather than improvise.
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And while you should encourage extroverts' enthusiasm, you should also help them to be better listeners and more open to other points of view, Gino says. She encourages managers to have one-on-one conversations with more outspoken team members to acknowledge their contributions while also promoting changes to help others contribute, too.
Workplace changes. Small changes to the workday structure can help maximize productivity for both introverts and extroverts. Knight gives the example of limiting morning meetings: introverts will have time for uninterrupted work, while extroverts know there will be time for team brainstorming. And in general, Knight stresses giving your team members flexibility during their workday to collaborate or step away from the office if needed.
Introverts are underrated as leaders. They shouldn't be.
Privacy: Everyone—not just introverts—need private spaces to get work done. Designate some spaces as quiet zones, while also maintaining communal gathering spaces for brainstorming and casual conversation (Knight, Harvard Business Review, 11/16).
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