This post was previously published with Keep Calm and Dream: For Introverts, By Introverts.
Extroverts may make the biggest splash in interview situations, but don’t discount introverts when it comes time to bring new people to your team. Although they’ve been cast in history as uncooperative, standoffish, or even rude, they can bring a great deal of good to a workplace and a team. What sort of good, you may ask?
They’re comfortable ceding the spotlight.
Working toward the goals of an organization can sometimes mean not everyone will get to take center stage or be publicly recognized for their work. While they do want to be noticed and appreciated, introverts rarely seek the sort of attention for their accomplishments that becomes problematic in offices. David Zweig would call these sorts of individuals, ones who don’t work for the credit the task may bring, “invisibles”:
We all do work that is anonymous to some extent, but most of us strive for recognition. That is how we feed our sense of self-worth. Invisibles take a different approach. For them, any time spent courting praise or fame is time taken away from the important and interesting work at hand. In fact, their relationship with recognition is often the inverse of what most of us enjoy: The better they do their jobs, the more they disappear.
They serve a quieter role in groups.
If introverts are vocally critical of group work, it is likely because the construct is one designed to reward those who speak the loudest and fastest, as opposed to those who prefer to observe and speak up only when needed. However, workplace group work can often benefit from someone willing to summate thoughts, rephrase things to create a common lexicon, and listen for key points essential to decision making. All of these skills are strengths of introverts, and therefore make them invaluable in groups. To ensure that introverts can operate well in your work group, create an environment where they can think things over and contribute as desired without having to cut through louder voices.
They manage risk well.
Because introverts are well suited to examine situations in great detail, they think of questions that others may overlook or brush off when making big decisions. Even in the case of situations where risk may be needed, these quiet contemplators can be invaluable when determining what consequences one can expect when making an unconventional choice. It’s true, they may need an extroverted touch to be pushed to take the risk initially, but if problems do arise- introverts are well suited to help devise a solution.
Don’t mistake the quiet and thoughtful, even stoic, demeanor of introverts for disinterest or disengagement. Odds are, behind the still facades is care for the organization, its people, and its future. If you operationalize this care the right way, you’ll have wonderful employees in your ranks- be sure to appreciate them.