In the past, most employers didn’t give all that much thought to differing personality types. That has changed in recent times. Now, more and more employers are putting forth the effort to understand the differences between introverted and extroverted employees — their mindset, strengths and weaknesses, or optimal working style. Grasping the characteristics of each personality type is critical for motivating both and for creating a harmonious workplace.
A Person’s Source of Energy
Although there is some degree of overlap between introverts and extroverts, there are fundamental traits that each group possesses. Essentially, it’s a matter of how a person draws their energy.
According to California State University Chico, “Extroverts are people who get their energy from external stimuli, such as personal interaction, social gatherings, and shared ideas. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to find social interaction and gatherings draining and are best able to process information and think creatively in a private setting.”
Understanding these fundamental differences is the first step in setting up both introverted and extroverted employees for success.
Traits of Introverted Employees
Introverts tend to be reserved and hesitant to share their ideas. They prefer to work either alone or in small groups, typically with a max of three other people. Most feel “drained” if they’re constantly interacting throughout the day or forced to be part of a large group. They can become easily distracted with excessive external stimuli. Introverts may also come across as being distant or aloof at times.
In terms of their strengths, they’re great at introspection and have impressive problem-solving skills. Their level of concentration is unparalleled, and they are often capable of creating highly detailed plans.
How to Motivate Introverts
- Allow them to work in solitude if desired
- Minimize their distractions
- Try not to bombard them with multiple projects at once
- Offer telecommuting opportunities if it’s feasible
- Recognize their efforts in private (Introverts tend to feel uncomfortable in the spotlight with all eyes on them)
- Encourage them to share their ideas (Consider alternatives to traditional meetings such as email)
Traits of Extroverted Employees
Extroverts feel quite comfortable in a social setting and are usually quick to share their ideas. They thrive in large groups and may feel under-stimulated when working alone or in a small group. Most enjoy collaborating with a team and feel energized when there’s a lot of interaction. They’re usually friendly and quick to volunteer for most projects.
How to Motivate Extroverts
- Assign them to team projects whenever possible
- Try to maintain a collaborative environment
- Allow them to take on multiple projects if they want
- Present them with challenges when the situation calls for it
- Recognize their accomplishments publicly
Introverts and extroverts both add value in their own special way. Understanding and acknowledging the differences between the two is the first step to extracting their full potential. By pulling the right strings and motivating each personality type, you can create a more cohesive workplace and get the most from your talent pool.