How To Manage Introverted Employees

We encourage introverts to act like extroverts instead of acting like their best selves.Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

There’s a huge misconception in the business world that you need to be loud, powerful, assertive, sticking your chest out and grinding to get what you want.

But in fact, quiet employees often are more successful and are considered better leaders.

Why is that?

  1. Introverts Are Better Listeners

    Introverts are naturally better listeners, which is great when you’re leading a team.

    Extroverted leaders on the other hand, tend to do most of the talking without taking into account much of their employees’ opinions. They’re generally better with the command-and-control type of management, whereas introverts are more inclusive.

  2. Introverts Are More Humble

    The best leaders practice what’s known as “servant leadership”, which is essentially when you put your employees first and are acting to serve them.

    According to research about servant leadership, the traits associated with servant leadership, like humility, are found more in introverts.

  3. Introverts Are More Creative

    Quieter employees tend to be more reflective and take their time to analyze what’s going on.

    That reflection makes you more creative and helps you make smarter decisions.

    Extroverts on the other hand, tend to be a bit more aggressive when it comes to decision making.

  4. Introverts Form Deeper Connections

    Introverts prefer to build those deeper, one-on-one connections, which is important for employee engagement.

    They’re much more likely to get to know their team members on a more personal level, making employees feel more connected to the leader.

    Extroverts are more likely to have more connections, but less meaningful.

  5. Introverts Are More Self-Aware

    Self-awareness is one of the most important things you can have to be an emotionally intelligent leader.

    That self-awareness lets them listen attentively, pick up on social cues, process information, and see the bigger picture.

    They love that time alone to process the information.

If you haven’t seen it already, Susan Cain’s TED talk about the power of introverts is definitely worth watching:

As an introvert myself, I often wonder if I’m perceived to be not as good as I actually am.

If I’m a little quiet in a meeting, does that mean I’m in a bad mood? Does it mean I’m not engaged?

Absolutely not.

There are times when I’m in a meeting and I can perceive the people around me noticing that I’m probably losing focus or not into it, but that’s simply not true.

I’m just digesting and processing the information.

Introverts and quiet employees work differently, but managers might be missing out a on a huge opportunity by not fully trying to understand them and adapting the way they manage them.

Not only is it important for the success of your business, but it’s important for the wellbeing of your employees and your culture.

Tips To Manage Quiet Employees

As a leader, you’ll have to learn how to deal with multiple personality types and adjust your management style based on those personalities.

Here are a few ideas to help you manage those quiet employees better.

  1. Don’t Assume

    The best tip I can give you by far is not to assume anything.

    Like I mentioned earlier, they might be quiet in meetings or at their desk, but don’t assume that they’re in a bad mood or disengaged.

    They might be processing some information that was just given to them or thinking about something, but they could be one of the more engaged members of your team.

  2. Don’t Just Show Up At Their Desk

    Chances are, they’ll prefer to communicate by email or chat, so respect that.

    If you just show up at their desk or catch them by surprise, they likely won’t give you a good answer. They need time to process and think about what they want to say.

    Respect that, and give them the space/time they need.

  3. Use One-On-Ones

    Trust me when I say one-on-ones is where you’re going to get the best feedback out of your quieter employees.

    They’ll be comfortable in that calm, quiet environment.

    If you can, it would be great to send them an agenda 24 hours in advance to make sure they have some time to gather their thoughts.

    If you’re looking for help with one-on-ones we put together a great guide that you can download right here.
  4. Ask For Their Opinion The Next Day

    If there’s a meeting, discussion, or anything you want their opinion on, it might be a good idea to wait a while before asking them for their thoughts. Again, they need time to process, digest, and formulate a smart response.

    It doesn’t necessarily need to be the next day, but give them time to think and come back to you with their thoughts collected.

    It also might be a good idea to ask for their opinion using their favorite form of communication.

    For example, you can wait an hour or two and send them an email or chat message and ask for their opinion.

  5. Give Them A Quiet Environment

    It makes sense that quiet people would like to work in quiet environments.

    Try your best to create a quiet environment so that they can work their best. If the workplace is so noisy and there’s no real way for them to get the quiet they need, you might want to consider letting them work from home one or two days a week.

  6. Don’t Ignore Them

    It’s easy for introverts or quiet employees to go unnoticed, but you need to make a conscious effort to notice them.

    Or what about when companies are recruiting employees and there are words like “outgoing” in the job description. You don’t want to miss out on these people.

    Just remember, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Warren Buffett, Steve Wozniak, and Michael Jordan are all introverts.

  7. Be Mindful Of Them

    A huge reason why I keep stressing the importance of building up your emotional intelligence is that it helps you deal better with all different types of employees.

    What you need to understand about quiet employees is that they might be perceived as shy, unhappy, not “into it”, etc. But you need to be mindful and patient with them.

    They’re smart and have great ideas for you, just give them a chance.