Unlocking the potential of your extrovert workforce will bring tremendous benefits to your company. Not only are these outgoing folks often the life and soul of the party, they also bring vitality and energy to the office with boundless enthusiasm.
But you can’t just expect to plonk an extrovert into an office and immediately reap the rewards of a confident go-getter who leads your team to glory. An environment needs to be created that extenuates their strengths, while also making room for others who may prefer a different approach.
Learn how to turn your office into a lightning rod for your brightest extroverted sparks with these six steps:
1. See how they play with others
It’s very rare for an office to be entirely introvert or entirely extrovert, which is a good thing. Having a homogenous team minimises ideas and loses wider perspective. In most teams you will probably have introverts working with extroverts, so it’s worth knowing how to keep relationships functioning.
A key difference between introverts and extroverts is that extroverts gain energy from the attention of others, whereas introverts can often find this highly draining when not invited.
In a practical sense, this means you may have to assess how some of your extroverts act around your introverts. There could be a need to train them on the challenges their personality type may present to introverts, and how to build a relationship that is beneficial to both. Looking at things such as when to tone down the energy around certain employees, while retaining enthusiasm for a task, will keep the best aspects of your extroverts without affecting your introverts.
2. Be patient
Extroverts, by definition, do not always perform at their best by meditating in quiet solitude before awakening with the perfect solution to a challenge. They are far more likely to put ideas out there and see what sticks, perhaps without giving every suggestions too much thought.
Instead of trying to dampen out this fire of iterative thought, let it burn. This approach may just be what works the best for them, and will lead them to a better answer eventually.
3. Give their ideas space to breath
Extroverts often have a great zeal for approaching challenges in the workplace. They will often relish the opportunity to put ideas on the table and thrash them out together, with some of their best work coming out of such an approach. However, this doesn’t work for everyone and can be a tiring prospect for some of the introverts in your team.
One solution to consider is holding brainstorming breakouts separately from more solutions/results focused meetings. This will encourage the flow of ideas from extroverts, but encourage them to only bring the best ones to the table when the rest of the team meets up. Another benefit to this approach is that by thinning down the ideas to the best ones, it will encourage them to evolve them to focus on the core goal you all need to be working on.
4. Mine the input of others
Extroverts are often keen to put their suggestions and opinions forward. This can be good for getting conversations started and moving projects forward. Why not use that drive to get input from others too?
Give extroverts tasks in which they need to actively seek feedback and ideas from others in the team, reporting on them and helping them come to life. This will help to ensure that some of the quieter voices within the team get their thoughts heard. It also means that the loudest voices don’t dominate the discussion and discourage others from speaking up. Moreover, it’s an opportunity for your extroverts to listen to the voices they might not hear as much, and gain fresh perspectives on the challenges their colleagues face.
5. A room of one’s own
An open office plan will often facilitate discussion between staff, which brings both positives and negatives. On the one hand, quick communications can happen instantly to deliver immediate feedback on work. On the other hand, not everyone wants to bounce ideas around or discuss projects while at their desk.
Extroverts will often lean towards bat around ideas and have lively discussions, which may be a distraction for some. This means it’s important for you to provide a less formal space to facilitate these breakouts, perhaps with more comfortable seating and some whiteboards where the more vocal members of your team can dive into a task without disturbing those who do not need to be involved in the conversation.
6. Fast feedback
Extroverts often like being in the moment, and very much thrive off being a lively ball of activity. If you’ve worked with a high performing extrovert before, you will be familiar with what a great asset this can be. How can this be successfully directed and maintained?
Micromanagement is not likely to yield the best results. But an approach where feedback is frequent, supportive, and directly relevant to what they are working on will help keep them motivated and challenged. External praise and rewards tend to perform better as a driver with extroverts than introverts, so ensure you let them know when they are performing well.
One size does not fit all
In this piece, and its sibling one on introverts (coming next week) we include somewhat of a caveat here. All of your employees is a unique individual, who will have their own quirks and things that make them exceptional. Often, they will not fit into a well-defined psychological framework, and this piece is only a guide. As you get to know them, adapt your strategy to suit the employees you have.