Every workforce is comprised of two personality types: introverts and extroverts. Introverted employees tend to be shy in social situations, and not as apt to participate in group discussions. But this doesn’t mean they have nothing to say!
As a manager, it’s a great benefit to your workforce to hear the thoughts and ideas of all your employees—whether introvert or extrovert. So what can you do to help your introverts feel more comfortable speaking up?
Encourage quiet employees with these tips
It’s simply more difficult for shy employees to feel comfortable sharing, so it helps to give them alternate opportunities to do so, plus build up their comfort level. You can try any of the following:
Add conference calls into the mix. In-person meetings can be stressful for an introvert. But conference calls, which feel much more anonymous, can be a perfect avenue for a quieter employee to feel comfortable speaking up. Since it’s still good to meet in person, you might consider a combination of these two types of meetings.
Circulate the meeting agenda beforehand. Many introverts have a hard time “thinking on their feet,” so if you provide agenda before the meeting, they’ll be able to plan what they’d like to say. This increases the chance an introvert will share thoughts and ideas during a meeting.
Allow for alone time. Social interaction can be exhausting for an introvert, who will need to take a step back to recharge batteries. Office space, breakrooms and individual cubicle workspaces are key to help an introvert relax and refresh before or after a meeting or presentation.
Use icebreaker activities. When your employees feel more comfortable around one another, they’re more likely to speak up. You can help enable this by including a quick icebreaker activity at the beginning of each in-person meeting.
Host after-hours events. These can help your employees get to know each other better and feel more comfortable around each other. Events could include team dinners, happy hour, team building, sporting events or other fun activities.
Often, it just takes time for a quiet individual to feel comfortable and open up. Be patient and encouraging!