Organisations tend to communicate in a way that suits extrovert employees better than introverts – an approach which could be detrimental to overall staff engagement and ultimately business performance; this issue will be debated at the Institute of Internal Communication’s (IoIC) annual conference on 2 May in Brighton.
It is estimated that one third to one half of the population are introverts, and yet this does not stop most organisations from being geared toward extroverts – for example, with open plan offices and collaboration through group brainstorming sessions.
Anyone whose heart sinks at the thought of their organisation’s Monday morning staff meeting or an evening meal with a large group of colleagues after a long working day are displaying introvert traits.
The ‘shrinking violet’ stereotype of the introvert is very far from the truth. However, they do feel drained by social interaction and need alone time to recharge, while extroverts are drained by too much time alone and need human interaction to recharge. Characteristics of these personality types include:
- Introverts: prefer quiet, more minimally stimulating environments, enjoy quiet conversations, listen more than talk, think before they speak
- Extroverts: energised by social situations, tend to be assertive multi-taskers, think out loud and on their feet
Introverts tend to be more risk-averse, and there are stories there were introverts who foresaw the financial crash but were overwhelmed by the extroverts – although some say the introverts should have shouted louder.
IoIC president Suzanne Peck commented: “There can be a tendency for employers and colleagues to pay more attention to the outgoing individual who comments first, rather than the quieter and more cautious person. The danger then is that the full range of useful perspectives are not ‘caught’ or assessed in an objective way.
“As we make advances in understanding different personality types, the dilemma then is how do we go about reflecting this in the way we communicate with employees and invite feedback? Can a one-size-fits-all approach actually work?
“We know there are organisations that are already innovating in this area, but reflecting these considerations in organisational communication plans is still something quite new.”
The culture debate at IoIC Live 14 in Brighton on 2 May will consider:
- What is the difference between an introvert and extrovert?
- Do communication channels work to their best effect if we don’t consider personality types?
- How engaged are workforces if we don’t understand people as well as we think we do?
- How do introverts and extroverts cultivate their creativity and how do they work best together?
IoIC Live 14 will cover a variety of topics aimed at providing valuable insights, hints and tips on smarter communication in today’s collaborative workplaces where employees are not obliged to listen or participate.
Further information is available at www.ioic.org.uk