You don’t have to be the greatest boss in the world to recognize that the stand-out members of your team are not always the ones with the most to offer. While introverts and extroverts are as valuable as each other to a business, the office environment is often more suited to the latter – leaving much of the introvert’s potential untapped.
Also read: Managing Introverts In The Workplace
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the conference room. Introverts aren’t shy – that’s a common misconception – but they are naturally suited to more intimate settings. They have great, deeply developed ideas, but these take a little longer to surface. And they may be better at producing research-intensive, desk-oriented work rather than pinging ideas back and forth in a group scenario.
A truly great boss will find a way to maximize an introvert’s contributions within those meetings. If you notice somebody who you know has great potential but who tends not to speak up in group talks (their body language can also be a dead giveaway) then the first thing to do is speak with them one-on-one and establish whether there is any other kind of issue holding them back.
Assuming that it is their introverted nature at play, you can make several suggestions to help them get involved. Make sure they have each meeting’s agenda in advance so they can do extra research and opinion-forming if they wish to prepare for the conversation. And offer them the chance to chair the meeting, or at least to introduce and summarize it, since these opportunities play to an introvert’s strengths and will compel then to sound their voice.
You can also be more sensitive to their needs during the meeting. By all means, bring them into conversation by directing questions at them, and ensuring that the extroverts don’t dominate (everyone hates an interrupter!). But consider also that an introvert might prefer a moment longer to respond. Try to pace the meeting slowly, but also be prepared to return to earlier points in case anyone has something to add.
And finally, why not share this new visual guide to speaking up in meetings with the introverts in the office. It will help them to help themselves, and to spread the balance across the different talents that make up your crew.