The corporate world favors extroverts, so it’s important that bosses take some extra care with new introverted employees.
The interview went surprisingly well. The candidate was experienced (and most probably overqualified) for the job, but her obvious passion still shone through. A perfect fit in so many ways.
But, despite her Master’s degree and boundless enthusiasm, I knew instantly she would face an uphill battle: She was too quiet.
Tarred with the same brush, I knew only too well how snap judgements can seal your fate on the corporate career ladder. Being a “good fit” as an introvert in the extroverted office is crucial to being accepted — and being able to advance to more senior roles.
Identifying strongly with my recruit’s quiet and introverted nature, I reflected on how her experience could be different from mine. While it may seem that introverts are disadvantaged by being less vocal — and, hence, less visible than their extrovert counterparts — I firmly believe that actions speak louder than words.
With this philosophy in mind, I came up with five tips on how managers can support a new introverted employee to take action and thrive in an extroverted workplace.
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5 Tips to Make a New Introverted Employee Feel Welcome
1. Help make their first impressions count.
The first few days in the office, first impressions are crucial. Rather than overshadowing your new employee by personally introducing them to their colleagues, encourage them to make their own introductions, one-on-one. This proactive approach will make them the focus of attention, allowing them to stand out from all the other new employees who have gone before.
And, introverts, don’t worry! While big on impact, this stance requires little small talk and can be limited to a simple exchange of names and job functions. This step not only creates a commanding first impression of self-confidence, but it also avoids any negative snap judgments about their “seeming aloof” or “not engaging with others” from day one.
2. Be generous with making them feel welcome.
Generosity is a quality that is often overlooked in offices, but is key to social connection and one which appeals to an introvert’s naturally generous spirit. For example, the simple act of bringing in a cake to celebrate the first week in a new job can be a high impact, crowd-pleasing engagement strategy (no break room party needed).
A simple email alerting colleagues that cake is in the kitchen will make your new recruit the agent of social connection — and with little social interaction involved. This enticement not only brings team members together in a moment of collective joy, but it will also spark interest in the new employee.
3. Help them seize the reins at the first team meeting.
The first team meeting is a baptism by fire, and introverts often feel keenly judged on both what they say and how often they contribute. As before, taking the initiative here is key.
Seize the reins by encouraging your new employee to put themselves on the agenda to speak informally about their first impressions of the job. If they’re nervous or inexperienced, offer to run through their words with them in advance.
If the employee has had sufficient time to get to know the job, this is an excellent opportunity for them to act as a fresh pair of eyes to highlight improvements to the status quo. Introverts are known for being able to see things from a different vantage point — and to think about things deeply and thoroughly.
So having a dedicated slot on the agenda to put their ideas across — even if someone else speaks about them — will show their value to the team while ensuring they’re not drowned out by others.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
4. Have them interview key people of influence in the office.
Introverts are great listeners and have an innate capacity to build meaningful connections.
A new job provides an ideal opportunity for new recruits to use these skills to build relationships with the key people of influence in their office.
Working together with the new employee, draw up a list of key senior influencers in the corporate hierarchy. Then, ask the new employee to invite each of them, one-on-one, to a 20-minute coffee meetup. The aim of the meeting is for them to find out more about their job role and how they may support these higher-ups in the future. You may also want to help the new employee brainstorm a brief list of questions that they can ask each influencer to get the conversation going.
The interviewee will be flattered to speak about themselves — particularly with such an attentive audience — while the new employee will benefit from crucial one-on-one time to listen, process, and build rapport.
Introverts are experts at diving into meaningful one-on-one conversations, and the resulting discussion can go a long way toward creating a lasting impression on those who can make a difference to their future career prospects.
5. Prioritize raising their profile at progress meetings.
While making a favorable impression in the first few weeks is vital, without consistent effort, your new employee may quickly blend into the background. (After all, introverts tend to prefer working behind the scenes, where there’s less attention on them.) To avoid this, make profile-raising a standing item during your weekly or monthly progress meetings.
Use this time to brainstorm ideas, which could help to continue to raise their profile without making them feel uncomfortable. Aim for one small action a week to continue building momentum, and get the employee used to stepping out of their comfort zone a bit — but in manageable steps. (I know this can be tough — I know how we introverts like to stay in our comfort zones!)
Using these simple techniques — all of which play to introvert strengths — can help to level the playing field in a corporate world that continues to favor extroverts. By supporting each other in this way, we can all help to create our own quiet revolution in the workplace… and beyond.
You might like:
- What I’ve Learned as an Introvert Working in Extroverted Jobs
- 7 Ways Introverts Can Build a Good Reputation Without Saying a Word
- These Are the Ideal Careers for Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Type
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