Workplace Personalities at Play
The differences between extroverts and introverts
By understanding your team’s social introverts and extroverts and how they work, you can keep your best people by giving them what they need to thrive at your association.
If you're an association, you have loftier goals than just turning a profit. But when you have that kind of ambition, you should ensure your team is working at the height of their potential.
And if you want to build a customer-obsessed culture, that starts with listening attentively to their needs and adjusting how you work to serve them best. That's a skill that takes time to develop. How can you do it for your customers, who you don't have much visibility with all the time if you can't do it for the colleagues you see in the office every day?
One obvious factor that affects people's work is introversion versus extroversion.
It seems like a small thing, but at the extreme, a company culture that's too uncomfortable for either personality type can cause problems. You could lose some of your best people to companies more adapted to them; that'll knock team morale and cause headaches while you struggle to onboard new people to replace them.
By understanding social introverts and extroverts and how they work, you can keep your best people by giving them what they need to thrive at your association.
How Introverts and Extroverts Work
When thinking about the difference between introverted and extroverted workers, it's crucial to clear some misconceptions about introverts. It's not that they don't enjoy social interaction. But they have an internal "battery" that gets used up in social interaction, where extroverts find socialization charges it up.
In general, introverts enjoy more calm surroundings and don't require as much social engagement. They don't fear social settings like shy or anxious people do; they just don't respond to it the same way that extroverts do.
"Making small accommodations for introverts and extroverts can make a big difference to the way your association works."
It's not just a personality trait; there's even a difference between introvert and extrovert brains. Introverts' brains don't react to other people as extroverts do. In studies, introverts have the same reaction to photos of humans and plants, but extroverts respond to images of people much more strongly.
People with extroverted personalities excel at teamwork and collaboration, but too much of this can limit their potential for deep focus and creativity. For that kind of work, solitude is essential. Extroverts are great at exchanging ideas and thinking quickly, but in high-energy meetings, they can fail to make room for introverted colleagues.
Extroverted people are skilled at making connections and quickly building rapport, but they may rely too much on approval from others. Extroverts can take charge of a project without giving it much thought, but to impress they might risk biting off more than they can chew.
How to Make Your Workplace Work for Everyone
If they're not done right, meetings can be the most challenging part of the day for many introverts. They are all about social interaction, they might happen unexpectedly and interrupt a flow state, and they call for quick decision-making under pressure. But with some thought, you can make meetings work for introverts and extroverts.
Rather than springing a meeting on someone with no notice, start by scheduling them well in advance. Ensure the meeting has a clear written agenda and send it to everyone in an email or the calendar event's notes. Link any relevant documents or reading that will be covered. It gives introverts some structure to stick to in the meeting, and for extroverts, it's helpful to refer to.
At the end of the meeting, give everyone who hasn't spoken a chance to speak. A simple, "Anything else before we move on?" will do. Since introverts might hesitate to talk over other people, this gives them a chance to raise anything they feel hasn't been discussed.
One difference between extroverts and introverts is whether they communicate best in speaking or writing. Introverts tend to express themselves more clearly in writing, and it also offers them to structure their thoughts without feeling rushed. Thoughtful little changes like these can help to make your workplace the ideal workspace for everyone regardless of their personality type.
Writing important communication in a team-management app like Trello or Slack has its advantages. Some companies like Stripe to establish a "culture of writing," because important information is recorded. In a work environment that values deep focus, this communication style is also better for productivity than phone calls or unscheduled conversations.
Keeping Your Best People Around
Making small accommodations for introverts and extroverts can make a big difference to the way your association works. If you are in-office or hybrid, experiment with policies like meeting-free days or specific areas in the office for quiet and uninterrupted focus. It will ensure your best people can work in a way that suits them, which makes them more likely to stay with you in the long term.
This article originally appeared on ASAE's Center for Association Leadership. OSAP thanks ASAE for its support of the nonprofit industry and improving the business acumen of those in our sector of industry.