There are two types of people: leaders and followers. When it comes to your employees, there will be those who relish the challenge of stepping up to the plate and volunteering their services, and there will be those who fade into the background.
This is completely normal and it doesn’t mean your quieter employees are any less capable than the more vibrant members of your team (if they were, you wouldn’t have hired them in the first place). All it means is that you might have to work a bit harder to coax the shyer people on your team to reach their full potential.
First of all, it’s important to determine the difference between shy and introverted.
A shy employee is typically nervous in nature and will generally come around when given the time to do so. It’s important to keep in mind that new employees are usually anxious for the first few weeks before they settle in, so making them feel included and like an important, valued part of the team is vital to bringing them out of their shell and getting the most out of them.
Introverts are generally more reserved and enjoy being alone or engaging in minimal social interaction by choice. A shy person might spend time alone because although they want to join in, they’re scared to, whereas an introvert will spend alone because that’s what they like to do.
If you have an introvert on your team, it’s important to accept their personality for what it is and not to over-stimulate them. That being said, it’s important you know what to do to really get the most out of every person within your company.
Give them your time
As a team leader or manager, time may not always be on your side, but if you really want to get the most out of every member of staff, it’s essential that you make time to personally develop your employees. Whether it’s having weekly catch ups with each person on your team to discuss how their working week has been, or if it’s a case of getting stuck in with everyone and helping to ease their workload, spending time getting to know your employees will go a long way to bringing out the best in them – especially shy employees. Allocating a certain amount of time for each person and really delving in to who they are as a person and understanding the way they work will allow you streamline your team, identify any weaknesses within it and utilise each team member to their strengths, including introverts who may be naturally reclusive and less inclined to share without prompting.
Few words make shy employees squirm more than ‘team building’. That’s because team building has gained a reputation over the years for being overly forced and cringey, but it doesn’t have to be. When it comes to your quieter employees, you need to figure out if they’re just shy or if they’re introverted. A problem-solving day out to an escape room will encourage people to interact with others on their team. Alternatively, a relaxed staff night out can do wonders for giving quiet employees the confidence boost they need. If this doesn’t work, it’s fair to assume you have an introvert on your team, in which case you can cater the way you approach and interact with them directly.
A common mistake employers make is to overlook quiet employees in favour of louder ones when it comes to choosing team leaders or project managers. Don’t fall into this trap. Giving one of your less-confident staff members the chance to shine in a position of power could be all they need to encourage them to be more forthcoming. Being quiet doesn’t mean they’re any less capable of doing the job – in fact, it could change their work persona entirely and really allow them to flourish in their role.
Office layout is key. If you notice a discord within your team, it’s worth looking at whether a change of layout might encourage more discussion and socialisation between staff. Lots of people don’t feel comfortable raising their voice to get someone’s attention, so if you can bring desks together and seat people who frequently work together close to each other, it will drive collaboration and chatter. If you have an introverted employee, giving them their space to ensure they’re not overstimulated and emotionally drained in the workplace will go a long way to maximising productivity.
Every person is different and it’s easy for quiet team members to get lost in the background when compared to larger characters, so it’s essential as an employer that you take the time to really get to know everyone on your team and how best to get the most out of them.