C-Suite Agenda

3 Ways to Help Introverts Thrive in Today’s Workplace

Today’s workplace culture has an extroversion bias.

According to a survey published in Industrial Psychiatry, 88% of supervisors are extroverts. Of midlevel managers, the number is closer to 95%, while top executives are almost entirely made up of extroverts (98%).

The reason is relatively simple: Managers often base merit on their own image. In other words, out of a pool of candidates, the one most resembling the hiring manager will likely land the job.

Outgoing employees tend to share their interests, make others aware of their accomplishments, and extend themselves into the work environment. It’s just much easier to get to know them, so when a promotion opportunity comes up, extroverts tend to be top of mind.

It’s not as if leadership has something against introverts. But their personality traits don’t shine as bright in today’s workplace, which is why leaders need to understand their entire team and do what’s necessary to set up all members for success. Here’s how:

  1. Leverage skills assessment platforms.
    Extroverts often put introverts at a disadvantage, in no small part because of their personalities. Extroverts’ outgoing nature simply draws people to them, making it easier to engage with leadership teams. Implementing skills assessments based on defined competencies can help level the playing field and ensure that the focus of future career opportunities isn’t just personality, but also skills (and job performance, of course).
    Skills assessments also offer a chance to provide transparency for employees. Depending on the platform, introverts can start to see where their strengths might align with career opportunities. They can then build a career path and identify the areas of development necessary to better position themselves for future promotions. Just make sure job descriptions include core competencies for each role.
  2. Involve direct management.
    Even with skills assessments, the onus is on managers to assess employee performance and skills, which can sometimes pose a problem. Introverts won’t often make their accomplishments or contributions known, feeling their work should speak for itself. In this situation, the solution could be a 360 review, where you solicit feedback from the person, as well as managers, peers, and other stakeholders, to get a more objective performance assessment.
    You might also need to remind managers to get to know team members’ career goals. Whether they’re introverts or extroverts, employees need assistance in identifying potential projects, tasks, etc., to gain the skills to grow into future positions. Besides, managers are best equipped to find opportunities that play to employees’ strong suits.
  3. Look for organizational skill gaps.
    Identifying extroverts’ strengths and pairing them with any organizational gaps is relatively easy. Talk to them for a few minutes, and you can see that they are good communicators, are comfortable building relationships, and have no qualms with sharing their ideas. Introverts, on the other hand, can sometimes be difficult to pin down.

By making the process for every employee the same — so that skill is the focus and not whether a certain behavior type sticks out more — all employees will be be treated equally and the playing field will be leveled. Managers need to comprehend their employees’ aspirations and work to connect them with mentors and development opportunities.

Most leaders understand that a variety of personalities enrich the workplace, making the office a more enjoyable place to work. But actually building a diverse team where each unique individual can thrive can be harder than one might think. These three steps can help you harness introverts’ strengths to take your team and business to the next level.


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Linda Ginac
Linda Ginac is the chairman, president, and CEO of TalentGuard. Before TalentGuard, she founded a successful career development franchise, The Ginac Group, and was vice president of product strategy at Cofiniti, where she pioneered Cofiniti’s global entry into collaborative financial planning using cloud-based technology. Linda Ginac is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.