According to a study conducted by the renowned Myers-Briggs organization back in 1998, up to 50% of the population can be identified as being introverted. This means that most of us will have come across an introvert at some point in our lives, although the characteristics of these individuals are often misunderstood and subsequently undervalued by those around them.
This is especially true in the typical workplace, where extroverts tend to take centre stage while introverts are often perceived as being aloof, rude or lacking in confidence (or all of the above). These misconceptions do no favours at all to employers, however, as they prevent them from understanding the true nature of introverts and the value that they can add to their business.
The Attributes that make Introverts so valuable to employers
In fact, the unique attributes that define introverts can be extremely beneficial to businesses, particularly when it comes to optimising productivity. Make no mistake; introverts have an unheralded set of skills that would put Liam Neeson to shame, making them secret weapons in the bid to create a more efficient and profitable venture.
So let’s take a look at the hidden attributes that make introverts such a force in the workplace: –
1. Introverts find it easier to Focus
Although introverts are often described as being shy, they are in fact thoughtful and reflective individuals who draw their energy from within. This contrasts sharply with extroverts, who gain their confidence from the energy of those that they interact with.
This tends to make introverts more focused on specific tasks, particularly those that are detail-orientated. While extroverts are more easily distracted and likely to have their work flow disrupted by others, introverts will devote all of their attention to the task in hand and complete their work in a faster, more efficient manner.
2. Introverts have enhanced Listening Skills
Have you ever heard a conversation between two extroverts? It is littered with rapid fire questions, constant over-talking and a brief, often meaningless, exchange of ideas. While it appears as though extroverts are constantly waiting for an opportunity to talk, introverts prefer to listen to others and absorb the opinions of those who they communicate with.
Although the overt communication skills of extroverts can be helpful when initiating brainstorming processes, they can also prevent them from understanding specific briefs and requests. This is where introverts come into their own, as their listening skills ensure that they have a firm grasp of what they are being asked to do by an employer and enable them to complete work more efficiently (and often at the first time of asking).
3. Introverts Plan Ahead and manage their workloads efficiently
According to studies, jobs that pay in excess of £37,000 ($70,000) per annum tend to challenge the notion of a healthy work-life balance. This salary appears to represent tipping point for workers, where the demands and stress of a specific role begin to undermine the financial incentives.
The people who command such salaries are usually crucial to the success or failure of a business, however, and in some respects introverts are best suited to high-powered, high earning positions. This is because it is in their nature to plan ahead, often in great detail and in a way that pre-empts every possible issue and outcome. Introverts are therefore more likely to schedule their workloads in the most effective way, driving productivity and a healthy work-life balance in the process!
4. Introverts are reflective and like to correct their own errors
Time is money, so they say, and in this respect the aggressive, tenacious attitude of extroverts may be more appealing to employers who want tasks completed quickly. Such haste can lead to errors and potentially costly mistakes, however, which will take additional time and in some instances money to correct.
Introverts have no such issue, as their reflective and considered nature means that they are highly skilled at correcting their own errors throughout the course of their work. Driven by a sense of moral integrity and thoughtfulness rather than ego, their approach is more likely to get tasks completed quickly and more efficiently over time.
5. Introverts are great at building Rapport with clients
One of the great misconceptions surrounding introverts is that they lack social skills, but this is far from the truth. Instead, introverts simply crave depth and intimacy in their interactions, meaning that they would rather converse one-on-one or in smaller groups rather than compete for the limelight among a large gathering of people.
This offers a huge advantage in the workplace, especially when meeting and negotiating with clients. The desire of introverts to build meaningful relationships actually makes them ideal for creating rapport with new or existing customers, meaning that they can excel in sales and customer-facing roles.
Understanding this means that you can maximise the productivity of introverted staff members and your business as a whole.
6. Introverts can work independently and without supervision
We have already discussed how introverts draw their energy from within, and this makes them ideally suited to working independently and without supervision. Unlike extroverts who thrive on the energy created by teamwork and collaboration, introverts prefer to work by themselves and commit fully to a specific task.
This has huge productivity benefits, as it means that you can free up other members of your team to undertake additional tasks simultaneously. You can also deploy your time elsewhere as a leader, helping the business to maintain its strategic course.
7. Introverts are better at conceiving creative concepts
Creativity is an important aspect of business, particularly in relation to disciplines such as marketing and advertising. Many managers prefer their extrovert staff members to carry out creative tasks, however, in the misguided belief that their ability to express ideas drives more productive brainstorming sessions.
While extroverts do indeed love expressing their thoughts and creative ideas, they are motivated primarily by the energy created by social interaction. This means while they may have more ideas than introverts, many are likely to be poorly judged and not necessarily suited to the task in hand. In contrast, introverts will simply allow their imagination to run wild as part of the creative process, before considering their thoughts and expressing their ideas succinctly.
Our Final Thoughts
These attributes underline the value that introverts offer to employers, although they should not detract from the merits of those of an extroverted nature. Instead, it is crucial that employers fully understand the nature of both personality types, as they look to optimise productivity across the board and get the most out of each individual member of staff.
Make no mistake; however, introverts are often misunderstood and underestimated in the workplace. Their innate strengths betray numerous productivity secrets, however, each of which contributes to a more efficient and effective workforce.