Ever wonder what that quiet employee in the corner is thinking? Well, a study published in the Academy of Management Journal says if you're an extrovert, your quieter counterparts may be judging you harshly--even if you're a model employee.

Through a series of studies, researchers found that introverts don't give their extroverted co-workers credit for their work. Introverts consistently underrate their co-worker's performance and are less likely to endorse them for advancement.

Introverts say other introverts perform better.

One study involved 178 MBA students at a large university. Each student was assigned to a four- or five-person team half-way through the semester and each team had to complete a project together. Participants completed questionnaires about their personalities, their team members, and the team process.

Researchers discovered that introverts rated the performance of other introverts higher than the performance of extroverts--even when the extroverts clearly outperformed the introverts. Extroverts, on the other hand, did not show a preference for one personality trait over the other when they completed their evaluations.

Introverts are less likely to recommend extroverts be promoted.

In a second study, 143 students played a brief online game with three teammates. The researchers manipulated one team member's profile and comments so the individual would appear as either highly introverted or highly extroverted while the individual's performance remained constant.

When asked to evaluate their team members, introverts gave lower evaluation scores to people who appeared extroverted. Additionally, when given an opportunity to hand out bonuses, introverts gave smaller bonuses to teammates who appeared to be extroverts, regardless of their performance.

Extroverts, however, seemed unaffected by the personality traits of their teammates. Their recommendations about who should earn a bonus appeared to be more merit based.

What can we learn from this?

Research has consistently shown that one personality doesn't outperform the other in the workplace. But introverts and extroverts work differently and they thrive under different circumstances.

While there's lots of advice aimed at helping managers understand how to bring out the best in each employee, understanding how introverts and extroverts work could be the secret to your workplace success regardless of whether you're a leader.

In addition to understanding your own personality, recognizing other people's personality differences is key. In a world where peer evaluations are often very important, the way you interact with others is likely to play a big role.

The way other people see you might not be the same way you see yourself. While an extrovert might assume her friendly and enthusiastic personality earns favor among the quieter people in the group, her co-workers may actually find her to be attention-seeking and annoying.

It's important to be yourself, but there are times being a little less 'you' might be instrumental in advancing your career. Apparently, that's the case if you're an extrovert surrounded by introverts. 

Published on: Apr 5, 2016
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