Diversity and inclusion: Personality styles in the workplace
December 13, 2021
When talking about inclusivity, we don’t always discuss how personality styles affect the way people interact in the workplace. Especially relevant with the rise of remote work, everyone’s working methods have had to shift. And as a leader, it can feel tricky to manage these differing communication styles in a way that makes introverts feel heard and extroverts listen and stay engaged. It’s all about paying attention to the way you run meetings, brainstorm and interact.
Let's go over some of the different personality styles and how you can adapt management approaches to ensure everyone is included. This results in peak performance from everyone, so they feel comfortable and heard.
Understanding different personality types
Often described as lively and enthusiastic, extroverts thrive off social interactions and getting their thoughts out in the presence of others. They’re not afraid to make their perspective known or execute projects quickly, getting work done right in the moment. In fact, a University of Kent study showed extroverts had a 25% higher chance of being in a high-earning job since typical workplaces reward people who exert confidence and assertiveness in their interactions. These traits are coveted in workplaces, where open office plans and on-the-spot ideas are met with high praise.
While they can sometimes dominate the conversation, extroverted team members have a lot to offer when it comes to engaging others and taking risks. When managing extroverts, try these dos and don’ts.
Advocate socialization events where they can bond with other team members
Encourage them to ask for opinions to draw out feedback from everyone
Balance extroverts’ talkative nature with reflecting and listening
Let them dominate 100% of the conversation
Assume they don't want to know others' opinions
Isolate them from brainstorming meetings because they’re talkative
Introverts, contrastingly, are individuals who don’t need as much social interaction. Much more perceptive and internal, introverts thrive on solitude and developing one-on-one relationships. Many need time to prepare and analyze information before meetings in order to catalog and organize their thoughts afterward. Although extroverts have a higher chance of landing top jobs, around 40% of leaders are introverted, according to Forbes, spanning big names from Bill Gates to Eleanor Roosevelt.
While not as vocal during meetings, introverts have a lot of insightful points after they have time to think and process information. When managing introverts, consider these tips.
Send an agenda ahead of time so they know what will be discussed
Give uninterrupted time without meetings throughout the day
Allocate one-on-one time for them to send additional thoughts after meetings
Call them out without providing context beforehand
Assume they're not enthusiastic just because they don’t speak up in meetings
Disregard their emails or contributory notes because they share them after the fact
Tip: Consider establishing employee resource groups (ERGs), which we call employee belonging groups (EBGs) at WilsonHCG, to broaden awareness and understanding in your diversity strategy. Our EBGs are employee-led and give team members a chance to bond and interact based on common cultures, interests and hobbies. Our Mighty Introverts EBG is designed to raise awareness on how to help different personality types to succeed in the workplace. Teammates discuss how being an introvert has a positive impact on the organization, and they share different experiences to deepen the understanding of how introverts work best.
Ambiverts and omniverts
It’s not as easy as a personality test to determine someone’s style — as life rarely manifests in extremes. Ambiverts are those who possess both qualities of an introvert and extrovert, and the term omnivert is used when people go between the two at any given time.
Many people often find themselves balancing between being sociable, but then needing time to recharge. If someone doesn’t gravitate toward one personality type or the other, they can fall into this category of a middle ground. If you’re managing someone who identifies as an ambivert or omnivert, be conscious of these pointers.
Communicate regularly to find what they prefer in any given week
Balance one-on-one and group time
Reinforce your support and encourage their ideas
Bucket them into one type of communication style
Assume how they’re feeling if they did something outspoken last week
Call on them unexpectedly in case they’re feeling withdrawn
How to consider all personality styles when managing your workforce
Send out meeting agendas a few days before to give introverts time to prepare their thoughts
Structure meetings so there’s time for everyone to share their thoughts and no one person dominates the entire conversation
Ask for text-based contributions beforehand so you can bring everything to a meeting upfront (and no one feels pressure to speak up)
Give time during the day without meetings so introverted team members can work uninterrupted and process their thoughts
If you’re in-office, dedicate quiet workspaces so those who need to separate themselves and concentrate can do so
Offer flexible working times so everyone can work during optimal times of productivity and around family or other responsibilities
Create optional social spaces for introverts to gather, so extroverts can understand the cues if they’re wanting to be social or not
Communicate clearly and lend an open ear to your team in order to better understand their styles and preferences
With everyone aligned on how to help others succeed in their daily workplace interactions, organizations will thrive. These action items should help you create a more inclusive workplace that accounts for the reserved, analytical nature of introverts with the sociable energy extroverts bring to a room.
Lely Chow is a recruitment consultant at WilsonHCG. As an introvert herself, she leads WilsonHCG's Mighty Introverts employee belonging group, and is passionate about educating others about who introverts are and how to to be inclusive of introverts in a diverse workplace environment.