We live in a culture that values extroverts, but the quieter staff members add value with secret strengths.
They may pass on happy hour. They may not say “hi” in the elevators. And they may avoid eye contact at all costs.
But while introverts may not exert energy into socializing in a workforce that’s increasing teamwork-oriented, they’re often putting more into their job and company than they’re given credit for.
Think about how workplace culture has evolved from the autonomous, independent values prized by the baby boomers to one with a bonding, group-think atmosphere prized by Gen Y. Think about how introverts, whose quiet diligence may have been lauded in years past, are underappreciated in this more talkative society.
About half the population is introverts, meaning credit unions’ staff is likely 50% introverts. So, credit unions that champion talkers as the “smart ones” could be neglecting the value of half its staff.
“Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women living in a man’s world,” Susan Cain, author of the Quiet: Power of Introverts, tells Forbes. “Our most important institutions are designed for extroverts. We have a waste of talent.”
So what’s a credit union operating in this mingling millennium to do? First, be aware of your introverts. And, as Cain says, ensure that you’re not biased against shyness, seriousness, and introversion so you don’t waste their talent, energy, and happiness.
Instead of encouraging your introverts to act like extroverts, recognize your introverts’ strong attributes. In certain circumstances, an introverted leader is the best leader. In fact, in engaging and innovative workforces, it’s the more introverted leader who allows employees to run with their ideas whereas an extroverted leader likes to put their own stamp on things.
Remember that extroverts crave stimulation, but introverts don’t need additional stimulation to be happy. And that doesn’t mean they’re anti-social.
Introverts may just prefer to have an evening with a close friend than join your boisterous office happy hour. They may enjoy listening intently in meetings instead of fighting to get their idea heard. And when an introvert avoids eye contact with you in the halls, don’t be offended. They may simply be more oriented on their day’s tasks instead of their outside world.
Be aware that your introverted employees may harbor a secret sense of shame about being more introverted, Cain says. So, make sure you’re rewarding all your employees equally for their performance and not simply favoring the loudest.