Most workplace teams have a mix of introverts and extroverts who must collaborate to reach common goals. While both personality types are valuable to a team, the work style differences between introverts and extroverts can sometimes prove challenging for a team leader to balance.
An introvert is someone who needs a quiet space and time spent alone to work most efficiently. They aren’t anti-social or necessarily shy by nature, but they do need alone time in order to recharge their batteries. Often more reserved in a social settings or in meetings, introverts like to work on projects individually and will share their ideas when they feel comfortable. They may feel they are less productive when people continually interrupt them or when they're part of large group projects.
The opposite of an introvert, an extrovert can often be the boisterous life of the party or office. They love to meet new people and thrive in a social setting. Extroverts get their energy from external stimuli like social collaboration, group projects, and sharing ideas. Extroverts often struggle working in isolation (the home office isn’t their friend) and need to be around people to absorb the thoughts and feelings of others as fuel for their work.
Why Issues Arise
With such divergent work styles and needs, it’s only natural for occasional conflicts to arise between introverts and extroverts, especially when the two groups must work collaboratively. If you’re managing a mixed team, here are four ways to make sure you’re creating a team culture that serves the needs of both types of employees.
Know Your Team
A team full of extroverts works differently than a team of mainly introverts. Figure out who you’re managing and adjust accordingly. For mostly extroverted teams, carve out time in the workday for people to discuss ideas in a meeting or hold a seminar where opinions can flow freely. For an introverted team, create quiet hours in the office where any noisy activities or discussions must take place behind closed doors.
With mixed groups, make sure you’re structuring work in such a way that you’re balancing both groups’ strengths and weaknesses. You’ve got the best of both worlds with team members who are suited for heads-down effort and those who are equipped to handle lots of face time.
Break Down Stereotypes
The number one way to improve collaboration between introverts and extroverts is to break down the negative stereotypes each group has for their opposite. When the "shy introvert" and "obnoxious extrovert" stereotypes are debunked, collaboration between both groups is more effective. Giving team members assignments suited to their strengths will help them shine in front of coworkers and highlight the fact that everyone, regardless of where they get their energy, is there to make a valuable contribution.
Zone The Office
You don’t have to completely renovate your office space to create a productive environment for both introverts and extroverts. Encouraging introverts to use a quiet conference room when they need to get away from the office noise or designating an area of the office as a social collaboration hotspot are two simple ways you can improve your office setting for both groups. If you work in an open-concept office, it’s even more important to check in with your introverted team members about how to help them thrive in what can often be a loud and distracting environment.
Understand The Third Type: Ambivert
It is important to understand that introverts and extroverts are not an exact label, but rather a spectrum. People can range from being extremely extroverted to extremely introverted and everything in between. In the middle of the spectrum are ambiverts. Ambiverts are a mixture of introverts and extroverts with their orientation varying situation to situation. They may feel like an extrovert at work, but are more introverted when out with friends, for example. Your team may contain a range of introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts so it's important to understand one size will never fit all when it comes to designing the most productive work environment.