Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, told Harvard Business Review that the challenge of leading a mixture of personalities should be met from a "mindset of understanding and curiosity." Below, find out tips from Gino and Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, on setting up a culture that respects your employees' inherent differences and helps them stay motivated.
Know your employees
First, you need to know which of your employees are introverts and which are extroverts. Pay attention to how they behave and get work done. Gino says extroverts are multitaskers and risk takers, and work quickly while making decisions on the fly. Introverts, meanwhile, tend to be deliberate and methodical.
Create a flexible work environment
Next, take all the information you collected and start to build team and office dynamics "that are respectful to everyone," Cain says. For example, she instituted a ban on all meetings before 12:30 p.m."This gives people who prefer head-down time the freedom to have that, but it also gives extroverts the knowledge that there will be time to talk things out," she says. Another important thing is to be flexible and allow extroverts to socialize and think out loud, and allow introverts to work outside of the office at a café or library.
Tailor workspaces to personalities
Cain says you should also think about how to set up your office in ways that inspire these two different personality types. Introverts, she says, need privacy to work efficiently, so instituting quiet zones and adding "nooks and crannies for people to go and be alone" inside an open floor plan will help. And to help foster a collaborative environment that energizes extroverts, make sure you keep a big chunk of space open, including lounges, break rooms, and group work rooms.
Help introverts speak
As a leader, you need to push people to help them grow. Gino says you should ask introverts a few days in advance to prepare something for the next meeting. But you can also make your meetings less of a competition between the loudest extroverts and take a page from Amazon, which begins every meeting in silence. "Before any conversation can occur, everyone must quietly read a memo about the meeting, which gives introverted team members the time they need to formulate their thoughts and, for some, build up the courage to share them with the rest of the team," Gino says.
Help extroverts listen
As for extroverts, you need to push them to listen more frequently. Cain says you should reach out to your most dominant personalities and meet with them individually. This isn't meant to be a critique. Instead, it's an opportunity to tell them how they might want to tailor their personality in meetings so others have a chance to be heard.