How to Develop Great Communicators With a Team of Introverts
Many times introverts can be labeled as bad communicators, not great with people, or fearful of conversation. However, this isn’t and doesn’t have to always be the case. If you have a team of introverted people and you want to improve communication within the workplace, there are simple and effective ways that you can make a difference as a leader.
Benefits of Having a Team of Introverts
Introverts can be extremely beneficial within a team. They tend to be focused, great listeners, and attentive to detail. In addition, they can help create a calm environment at work and keep drama to a minimum. It is a misconception that introverts do not like people. Introverts can be great with one on one conversations and making people feel heard and valued. Oftentimes companies can undervalue introverted employees and make them feel less important. If managers are not careful, they can develop and gravitate towards people that are more outspoken. When it comes to leadership, it is important to focus on developing everyone. When managers take the time to recognize their employees strengths and create development plans to work through weaknesses, employees will rise to the occasion.
Misconceptions About Introverts
There are often common misconceptions about introverts. The definition of an introvert is not “very quiet and wants to be alone all the time”. The definition of an introvert is “someone who is more introspective and prefers to focus on their inner ideas and thoughts than external things.” In addition, they usually recharge alone and prefer one on one time with people. Understanding introverts is the first step into helping them communicate effectively. You can’t change a person at their core, but you can help them grow strengths they already have. Every person is different, it is never a good idea to put all introverts in a stereo type. As a leader it is best to treat each team member as an individual. It is great to use tools like the enneagram, or the concept of introverts and extroverts to better understand people within your team, but it is always important to leave room for diversity that every person possesses.
Introverts are a great addition to any team. If you have a team of introverts, or even a few introverts that play a vital role, you're in luck! You can have an amazing team with great communication by using some simple tips to help develop their communication.
First- As a leader a great course of action is always to recognize behaviors that you want to continue to see. If one of your team members communicates to a client in a timely manner or goes out their way to voice their opinion on a situation, be sure to acknowledge that behavior. Go up to them personally and thank them for their timely response or valued feedback. This will spur your team to understand your expectations and also inspire them to continue those behaviors.
Second- When you can, meet introverts where they are at. Schedule more one on one meetings. You may be surprised at the knowledge, ideas, or suggestions your team members have when they don’t feel like they are competing for a turn to speak. Taking time with your team members individually may seem daunting or time consuming. However, scheduling time over the course of a month can make it manageable. If you have additional management, utilize them to communicate with your team individually. The pay off for doing this is exponential.
Third- Emphasize with your team the importance of preparation. If you notice individuals on your team getting nervous about communicating, one way to help is to schedule meetings and encourage preparation. Creating a culture of preparation within your team can give them peace of mind. The more prepared they are for a meeting, the easier the conversation will flow. Many times, because introverts are introspective, they need time to think about what they are going to talk about and what they are going to say. In addition, when clients feel like you and your team are presenting well thought out ideas, it provides them a sense of confidence in your ability to be professional and prepared.
Fourth- Encourage your team to deal with confrontation. Confrontation is hard for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for introverts. The only way this fear can be overcome is through practice. For example, one of your employees may come to you and bring up a conflict they are having with a customer. Instead of saying I will handle it, or leaving them to handle it on their own, walk them through it. Give them 1 or 2 suggestions of how to respond to the issue and why they should respond that way. Eventually, the goal is for them to feel confident enough to handle conflict on their own. Many times employees feel more comfortable about handling confrontation if they know how you want them to generally handle situations and that you have their back.
Fifth- Implement communication exercises regularly. This can be tailored to fit your team. One great idea is to come up with scenarios that deal with sales, confrontation, confusion, etc. Then ask your team how they would respond to the situation and give feedback. Also, you could delegate certain tasks or clients that you feel may help stretch a person on your team. You can use this task to help develop their communication skills and give them something to work towards.
Having a great team can look different for every business and group. Having a team of introverts can give your business huge advantages. It is up to leadership to cultivate communication within the workplace. A team is a direct reflection of leadership. By utilizing the tips listed above, you can help develop your team of introverts into amazing communicators. When you slow down and take the time to develop your team, you will begin to reap the benefits of a well rounded team that works together and understands expectations. It is imperative to see each member of your team as individuals and treat them accordingly. Even if every member of your team is an introvert, you will still see different strengths and weaknesses in each person. One member of your team may need more direct feedback, while the other may need more preparation time. Whatever the case is, utilizing the tips above will help ensure that each member of your team is growing into fantastic communicators. Never underestimate an introvert; they can add tremendous value to your company.