Tragedy requires change. And ever since COVID-19 hit, we’ve all had to make some adjustments in our lives.
Millions of employees are working from home, temporarily “homeschooling” their kids, engaging in a myriad of disinfecting techniques and social distancing strategies. Companies are attempting to adjust to having their workers at home and trying to make sure their businesses survive this pandemic.
During these times, it’s normal to go through feelings of grief, loss, confusion, overwhelm and uncertainty. No one knows what will happen in the future or how exactly this whole thing will play out on an economic, cultural or global level.
But as tragic as the events are in the world right now, there will come a time when we’re expected back at work, back to the “new normal”.
Even through tragedy and loss, things will move forward.
The questions is, will it ever really be the same?
Times like these encourage us to consider whether our current way of doing things is best.
Clearly, hundreds if not thousands of businesses weren’t prepared to switch to remote work.
Technology isn’t a new thing. So, why are companies so behind?
Because they have outdated understandings of how to manage their staff (particularly the introverts).
Take this one for instance: if you can see someone at their desk, they must be working. But is this really even true?
Sure, you’re able to see that they’re at their desk on their computer. But how do you know that means they’re being productive or engaged?
Employers are afraid that if they allow more people to work from home, they won’t be able to monitor them or evaluate their effectiveness.
But this is a big sticking point for introverts.
Because we’re MORE productive when left ALONE. This means no interruptions, distractions or stopping by for idle chit-chat. Of course, there are things that have to be managed at home to make sure it’s an environment that’s conducive for work. But how many times are we interrupted during a regular workday at the office?
For the extroverted employee, they feel drained without enough socializing. So, they’re probably more likely to stop by the manager’s office or talk with co-workers.
And nowadays that they’re working from home, they’re more likely to stay in touch via emails or phone calls to their managers or peers.
That makes it seem like they’re more engaged and responsive, since you’re hearing from them and can know what they’re doing, what they’re thinking and what they’re working on.
And since introverts need less social interaction and are more energized by time alone, they’re not reaching out to you as much because they’re probably able to get more work done now that they’re not in an office space where they feel judged for not being enough of a “team player” or for not socializing enough.
So, what can you, as the leader, do to effectively manage employees at home? Here are 3 quick tips that work for everyone (introverts included):
1. Set clear expectations and deadlines for tasks.
Not only is this just good etiquette, it helps employees feel like they know what to expect and what to deliver. Introverts especially thrive when we know what’s expected of us. And if you want to do “check-ins” to monitor progress, don’t randomly send an email asking to see where we’re at.
Introverts can’t stand to show half-finished work and will resent you for asking to see it before its finalized. We may also feel like you’re just “checking up on us” like a parent would. Introverts don’t like to feel micromanaged or not trusted to do what we said they we do.
But if you tell us beforehand that you’ll want a weekly progress report (or whatever timeframe makes sense), we’ll appreciate your thoroughness and consideration!
2. Utilize one-on-one and group chats (not just phone calls).
Introverts are known for disliking small talk. I’ll give you a close second: phone calls. For extroverts, if they have an idea to bounce around or question they want answered, they think a “quick” phone call is the best way to get it done.
For introverts, unexpected phone calls are often interrupting, draining and frustrating. This is because we don’t know what the person calling wants, how long it will take or if we’re prepared with an answer. If it’s our boss or co-worker, we feel obligated to answer and guilty if we don’t.
So even though we’re working, in the back of our mind we’re distracted by that phone call, wondering what the person wanted or if we should’ve answered, even though it would’ve totally taken us out of our flow.
But group and one-on-one chats give introverts time to think, find the answer and write out a clear response. Plus, it’s not nearly as distracting as an unexpected phone call and helps us stay focused and on-task in our own work
3. Schedule times to talk.
Although you may think at this point introverts have a lot of rules or don’t want much contact, this really isn’t true! We need support and connection just like everyone else, we’re just far more productive when it’s scheduled and expected.
Setting up regular phone or video meetings over Zoom is a great way for everyone to stay in touch and “see” each other without trying to match up schedules for a physical time and date (plus it’s social-distancing friendly!). Within these meetings, it’s important to give everyone the chance to talk.
Otherwise, you’ll run into the same challenges with getting the introverts to participate as you have in office-based group meetings.
During these times of change, we have to adapt. Learning more effective ways to manage virtual meetings and remote employees is a great place to start!
Did you find this helpful? If so, would you mind sharing it with a colleague, manager or HR staff member who could benefit from knowing how to create a more introvert-inclusive workplace?
As always, I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment. I read and reply to every one!