Let’s face it: corporate culture was designed with extroverts in mind. There’s the multitude of meetings on any given day, the open floor plans, the seemingly endless small talk, and the inescapable truth that if you are outgoing, talkative, and most comfortable while surrounded by others, you are very likely to succeed.
Despite what I’ve been told in my many years working in corporate jobs, I’m a firm believer that being an introvert can be a superpower at work. Introverts are great listeners, astute observers, independent thinkers, and creative powerhouses—all important qualities to have no matter what industry you’re in.
Here are a few easy-to-implement ideas for ensuring that everyone can succeed at work, regardless of their personality type.
Recognize good work of all kinds
If you’re a manager, it’s part of your job to make sure your team members are getting the recognition they deserve for doing good work. Be sure to celebrate the team member who wrote a really thoughtful blog post as much as you celebrate the team member who voiced dozens of ideas in the impromptu brainstorm. Some people do their best work independently, while others thrive surrounded by others. Both are equally valid and important.
Schedule meetings mindfully
Meetings are an essential part of any job, but being mindful about how they are structured and scheduled can ensure they are productive instead of painful. Simple tweaks like sending an agenda or decks ahead of time will help your team digest any relevant information, make a plan for the meeting, and ultimately attend it feeling prepared — regardless of their personality type.
Ending meetings 5-10 minutes before the hour may be a helpful practice if your organization or team is often slammed with back-to-back meetings. Introverts need (and deserve) alone time to re-energize, and being respectful of this need will help everyone succeed in their roles.
Finally, keeping weekly meetings to under an hour (ideally, less) can keep your status call from turning into yet another draining small talk sesh. And if the meeting is no longer needed, don’t be afraid to cancel. Meetings for the sake of meeting are annoying for everyone, but are particularly frustrating for introverts.
Build in solo working time
Speaking of meetings, nobody should be booked and busy all day every day. While some employees are master multitaskers and don’t mind squeezing in a few minutes of work while they talk shop, others need uninterrupted time to complete their tasks. Make sure employees feel empowered to block off their calendars for deep focus work, or even consider issuing company-wide “no meeting” hours. Whether introvert or extrovert, employees who are in control of their schedules will be both happier and better at their jobs.
Quiet areas are key
Open office floor plans are all the rage these days, but are they actually beneficial? Nobody’s calling for the return of the cubicle, but do remember that not everybody can work effectively while surrounded by desk-side chit-chat. Dedicating a section of your office to quiet work—like a little-used conference room or an out-of-the-way corner—is a great way to provide a respite from the nonstop noise and commotion to whoever needs it.
Let them eat lunch
It’s important to remember that lunch time = personal time. Not everyone wants to eat lunch with the colleagues they spent all morning in meetings with—and that’s okay! It’s great to have the option to take lunch with the team, but be sure you don’t make it an expectation. Some employees use this time to enjoy a midday break and recharge alone.
Team activities shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all
Office happy hours and holiday parties are most fun when there are a multitude of ways to participate. Think: a karaoke competition and a place to sit and chat with a smaller group. Giving your employees the option to simply show up and hang out, guilt-free, is a great way to make space for all personality types.
As manager, it’s important to be cognizant of the various personality types you have on your team and more than anything make space for everyone to be their best self.