It’s a tricky one. Stripped back, every person is inherently different, and learning how to understand your whole team can be a lot of work. That’s why deciding to focus on your teams attitude to teamwork, instead of all the other things, might be the key to understanding your team.
Is your Team Introverted or Extroverted?
For some team members, having a professional and productive approach towards teamwork will require you to ramp it up. Greater brainstorming and working lunches, open desk spaces at the office and team building exercises would get them to be their best. To these people, human interaction allows their productivity to spike, and be given that all important creativity boost.
However this isn’t for everyone. There are those who would interpret most efficient teamwork as keeping socialization down to the bare minimum. Elevator talk, and coffee chat. That’s it. This is not a conscious decision that they dislike company, but actually how some people are hardwired to revel in the empty room. They flourish in solitude, and their achievements happen in quiet moments of contemplation, rather than at team brunches. This is the main difference between introverts and extroverts when it comes to productivity in the office.And the major thing to learn to distinguish between team members.
The Power of Introverts
Susan Cain, the brain behind the Quiet Revolution, gave a compelling TED talk in 2012 entitled ‘The Power of Introverts’, which after 18 million views is fair to say got some coverage. In it, she makes her case for the introvert, and asks how is it, that we’ve managed to change work culture to be an extrovert focused space. Where the remenises of the 90’s cabin boxes of capitalism are classed as just a silly phase that capitalism went through. All whilst having the knowledge that countless successful people such as Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, and Rosa Parks all needed quiet spaces to be their best.
Extroverts have been able to get away with making the decisions that greater communication everyday is the best way to boost productivity, happiness and efficiency. Not because that is the best result for everyone, but it’s the best route for some.
In fact, from childhood, society teaches us to value teamwork more than anything, later placing importance on networking in order to succeed. But success comes more often from our own thought processes, taken by ourselves in quiet moments of contemplation than it does at networking events. So the question remains, why don’t we value introversion more?
Practical Advice to leaders
In a leadership position, you have the choice whether to create a team masterpiece or a team mess through your approach to teamwork. Remember to take into account that introverts and extroverts need different kinds of stimulation, as this is another layer of working out how to get the most out of your team.
Things to Consider: Team Size
Usually, there isn’t really much you can do about the size of your team. Extroverts and introverts alike will just have to deal with whatever they’ve signed up for. However, taking in your team size to account can allow you to plan better when you’re in a leadership position.
If you have a large team, consider planning team building exercises both for extroverts and introverts. For instance, if the last company team building was an outdoor activity center, try considering the next event to be something more focused, such as a poetry reading, or a film screening. By catering to the comfort levels of both introverts and extroverts you will be able to boost teamwork in a more efficient way, as the team begin to feel comfortable in the same spaces.
Things to Consider: Team Leaders
Leadership style is of course down to the individual. And depending on whether you are more introverted or extroverted will influence how you relate to your team. But you can look into understanding your team better by completing tests such as MBTI and reading up on what actions they will react best to.
Let’s give an example.
Say the manager of a marketing departments identifies as an ENFP (in MBTI), this means they identify most with extraversion, intuition, feeling, and perception. They will be likely to process information in an empathetic way, and look for the reasons behind people’s emotions and actions.
Whereas, for an employee who resonates with being an INTJ – introversion, intuition, thinking, and judgement will be the main lenses through which they see the world. An employee of this kind will be most likely to solve problems by looking for the most logical of paths, not taking into regard abstract thinking as much as others might, but finding truly the most logical solution.
Both types of people are needed in successful teams in every industry. But ensuring that managers and other team leaders know that what works for each person, the team will work much better together and individually.
Things to Consider: Alone Time
In work environments open-plan offices, and glass walls dominate the architecture, and alone time is hard to find. Time alone to work can be greatly distracting for some, but invaluable for others, depending on how they focus best. Some will find that strangers eyes and a busy buzz of a coffee shop will produce creativity and allow them to think more creatively than a quiet office space.
Remember to take these factors into account, and if you find that productivity is higher when some team members consciously take time to themselves, try to think of a solution together to harness that creativity without having group brainstorming sessions.
Things to Consider: Forced Fun
Forced fun does not result in fun for everyone. Some need a little kick to be able to truly enjoy themselves, whilst others fear the facebook event invite. Again, this can be greatly down to introversion or extraversion, and should be the main reason why mandatory attendance events should be scaled back to a minimum.
Although some companies feel that social events are an important part of office culture, remembering that this might not be the best approach for everyone in the team should be paramount.
Learning how to understand your team individually, and as a whole can be broken down into factors. A good way of encouraging your team to be their best is to understand what their attitude to teamwork is, and if they shine in group work, or when left alone. By recognising these differences, you will be creating an environment where everyone can thrive.