Have you ever carried out one of those personality profiles that categorise you into a few ‘types’ of person?
One of these discusses if you are ‘extroversion’ or ‘introversion’ in your outlook.
That is, do you appear to be an extrovert in the workplace or are you more likely to keep yourself to yourself?
Many people can cause us management challenges at work, and the extrovert is one of those people that, if allowed to control things, can test your leadership style to the limit.
There are many benefits to having these types of people around. They are gregarious, enjoy the company of others, have lots to say, can be positive in outlook, come up with ideas and have lots to offer when you want contributions and input for future progress.
They can also annoy those who aren’t as extrovert or opinionated and sometimes can come across as wanting to hog the limelight and can alienate the more introverted team members.
As a manager, it’s your job to get the best levels of productivity out of these people and encourage a healthy team dynamic.
So, what can you do to yoke their strengths and also work on their development areas?
1) Extroverts are passionate and enthusiastic about solving issues in the workplace, so encourage them to be.
You want your team to be forward-thinking and energetic in their solving of problems, so you want these people to contribute more to the solution-oriented discussions. Brainstorming sessions will bring the best out of extroverts, so spend some time with them, maybe after the meetings you have, working with them to ascertain the practical applications of the ideas already discussed.
By keeping the discussions future-focussed, the extrovert will be able to contribute their mindset more effectively, and it will give the reflectors or more introverted team members the opportunity to see how they can contribute to the success of the project in their own way.
2) Create opportunities for idea-sharing
Many managers are able to tap into extroverts’ energy and passion by creating spontaneous discussions and idea sharing in various places and situations. This enables both you and they to work on solutions in ways that doesn’t alienate those who are less outgoing.
While the introverted team members you have will be happy with a one-on-one discussion with you, the extrovert thrives in an environment where the group are contributing to the project’s success and they can bounce ideas off each other to get progressive ideas developed.
3) Give appreciation when you see the chance
The June 2013 journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that extroverts weigh external motivational and reward cues more strongly than introverts. This shows that, in order to build the idea-generation and contribution of the extrovert, they need to be shown appreciation form an outside source.
Whereas many introverted people will be able to work on their own personal motivation and engagement by self-direction and self-drive, the extrovert tends to need that external stimuli more frequently and at deeper levels. So, show the extrovert how much you appreciate their input by commending them without being patronising and offer praise for the things you wish to be repeated in the future.
4) Help them take their work lightly and their results seriously
Many managers still suffer from the inability to set work goals and let people carry out their tasks. They tend to micro-manage and in effect ‘manage activity’.
An extrovert will not thrive in stifling work environments, where the manager is forever checking up on what’s going on.
Instead of checking up, check in.
Realise that extroverts have working practices that are different to introverts. The way to get the best out of them is to be serious about the results you want them to get, but not so much the journey they need to take to get there.
Put the emphasis on the end results and you’ll find the extrovert will be able to find their own journey.
5) Ascertain the level of detail they need
We often find the extrovert will also be the ‘big-picture’ type of person, those who see from the perspective of creating large goals but maybe leave the details to the devil.
As their manager, rebalance the situation by paying attention to the details as well as the large issues. You may have to pay attention to the minutia yourself and let the extrovert work on what they are good at, playing to their strengths and not hindering their progress by forever putting the brakes on.
Look at the detail that’s required and work with the extrovert to paint the complete picture, or you’ll be in danger of missing deadlines or creating more work for others.
6) Don’t let them take over the team
There is a tendency and an inclination to sometimes let the extrovert take over team meetings or projects to the extent that they drown out the opinions of others.
Remember, though, that extroverts don’t always have all the answers, and others’ ideas may well be more thought-out or more practical. So, allow time for others to have their say when requested. Also be aware that some people may have great ideas but don’t have the same confidence as the extrovert when sharing them, even though they may be more applicable in many situations.
Allow for input from all team members, rather than letting the extrovert take centre stage at all times.
7) Sometimes, let the extrovert be introvert
You might like the fact that the extrovert is ‘always on’, the life and soul of the party, the joker who brings mirth and merriment to the office. But remember that even these people need to ‘press the off switch’ at times.
They’ll be occasions when this person needs to work from home, or in a side office, or needs time to focus and concentrate on a specific project they are engrossed in.
Don’t expect this person to create answers at all times. Realise that often they may have to be reflective and allow that opportunity.
8) Don’t confuse extroversion with insecurity
We often give a person a label based on their behavioural cues and many extroverts are labelled that way because they are always at the forefront, expressing opinions more than others and offering help when needed.
But for some, this can be superficial, and they may be covering up a degree of insecurity. By that I mean that some people overcome their insecurities by being bold and brash, always having an opinion even when it’s not required.
Insecure people tend not to be great listeners, unable to see others’ perspectives clearly and sometimes being over-bearing. If this is the case with an extrovert in your team, be aware that they may be covering up some insecurities by being over-the-top in their communication.
Listen to the quality of what they say and whether it’s been thought through effectively, or whether they are using you as a sounding board for some deeper inadequacies.
Extroversion can be a great quality in the work environment when it is forward-thinking and solution focussed. You can utilise this quality when it is beneficial for the team and also allow others to be forthcoming with ideas, so all have a part in sharing their knowledge and perspectives.
Yoke the strength of the extrovert and keep a reign on their weaknesses so the whole team benefits from their input.