When trying to find the perfect employee, you may have preconceived notions of whether you need an introvert or extravert in the role. Outgoingness and shyness have been linked to extraversion and introversion, respectively, as explanations for people’s personalities, but these simple concepts are misleading. As a leader, you can help ensure that you maximize employee potential, despite differing personalities.
Personality traits manifest as behaviours on a spectrum, meaning there are extremes at each end, with variations in between. They are preferences, not skills. Contrary to the belief that extraversion is outgoingness and introversion is shyness, this personality trait refers instead to the way that we prefer to recharge our energy. After a particularly social day at work, an extravert may leave feeling energized, but an introvert may leave feeling drained. After an afternoon alone focussed on a big project, an extravert may need social interaction to get through the evening, whereas an introvert may feel refreshed and ready to tackle the next part of the day.
Productivity is critical to the bottom line, but there isn’t a single solution to maximize it. Recall a time when you worked on something and didn’t realize that three hours had gone by: perhaps engaged in a hobby, playing a sport, or spending time with your family. There is just enough external stimulation to keep you engaged but not exhausted. In this state of flow, you reached your optimal productivity. It’s the balance of stimulation between how we recharge and where we draw our energy that matters—externally, from the people around us, or internally, from our own thoughts.
You can set the stage for this balance in the workplace. When employees work at their optimal stimulation level, productivity increases and stress decreases, therefore employees are less likely to take sick time or engage in negative behaviours. Not only do you benefit from the increased output, but you create a positive work environment for the people in your organization.
Now that we have a new understanding of the differences between introverts and extraverts, how can we use this knowledge to create optimal work environments for all personality types? Download our FREE Guide to Diverse Personality Types for suggestions. There are changes, big and small, that you can make to your physical workplace and leadership style that will be beneficial to all types of personalities.
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