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Most of us aren’t purely introverted or extroverted, so reaching all employees requires a more nuanced approach, writes Molly Moseley
Are you an extrovert or introvert? For some people the answer is clear, but for many it’s not so black and white.
You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Briggs test. Since the 1940s, this assessment has helped us peer into different personality types. This, and many other personality tests, tends to polarise introversion and extroversion, making them seem mutually exclusive.
If you’ve never felt like you fit squarely into one category, you’re not alone. Many experts now believe there’s a spectrum between extroversion and introversion, and most people are somewhere in the middle.
Ultimately, where you land is about where you get your energy: from a group of people or from solitude – or sometimes both. Enter ambiversion, the in-between category that fits most people best.
For example, you might enjoy pitching to clients and may be looking forward to an upcoming presentation. However, it’s also exhausting to be around large groups of people, so afterwards you head home to recharge rather than go out for happy hour with the team. This scenario demonstrates the traits of both an extrovert and introvert.
Because everyone falls into their own unique place on the continuum, managers might struggle to find the best ways to inspire their teams. How can you possibly manage everyone in order to bring out their very best at work when everyone is so different? It might seem impossible, but a few smart strategies can help.
1. Assess your team
The first step is to understand your employees’ personality types and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Talk with your team. Give them a personality test if you must. Be honest and create a meaningful assessment that will help both individuals and the group as a whole to thrive.
When a team knows its strengths and weaknesses, it can be very empowering. Managers can then adapt their style to fit the group they’re leading. For example, if someone tends to be quiet during meetings, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have ideas they want to share. A good manager will encourage engagement but also offer additional ways for people to speak up and contribute thoughts, such as at a one-on-one meeting or via email.
2. Take a closer look at your environment
Another aspect that smart managers consider is the workplace environment. Many modern workplaces have moved to open office designs with the goal of encouraging collaboration. This appears to be custom-made for the extrovert who craves interaction with others. The problem is that those who tend more towards introversion can be overwhelmed and distracted by this environment.
The solution? Small design changes can create private spaces for when people need them. You could create a quiet corner with plants or partitions for privacy. Some offices will go so far as to incorporate quiet workspaces that can be accessed throughout the day. These are the places people can go to when they need to focus and don’t want to be interrupted.
3. Design a flexible workflow
Finally, rethinking the flow of the workday can encourage all personality types to put forward their very best. Perhaps you could leave the morning open for productivity and schedule meetings right after lunch. This leaves room in the day for introverts to breathe and extroverts to socialise, and a little bit of both for everyone in between.
Getting continuous feedback is key. Ask people how they work best. Enquire into possible improvements to boost productivity employee engagement and job satisfaction. When you keep the conversation open, you’ll be able to create a positive workplace for all personalities.
Molly Moseley is a marketing strategist and brand evangelist with a record of achievement in conceptualising new visit linkup.com. ideas, designing processes and programs, and overseeing tactical execution to deliver on corporate goals. She serves as part of the cross-functional leadership team at LinkUp in developing, managing and positioning products that capture new market share, and expand existing B2B and B2C customer relationships. For more information, visit linkup.com.