Office ‘verts’ unite
Last week I came across a blog, Corporate Culture for Introverts by Lisa Barone. In her piece, Lisa acknowledges her company’s effort to learn – and willingness to embrace – its employees’ various working styles. She also acknowledged that, while it’s great that more companies are moving toward this type of management style, it’s also an employee’s duty to be willing to work outside his or her comfort zone as well when necessary.
The article caught my attention because, while I’m an ambivert overall, I’m definitely an introvert when it comes to the office environment. I work quietly, think before I speak, listen more than I talk, express myself better in writing than verbally. Essentially, the exact definition of an introvert, according to “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” (I love that title, by the way.)
At Imagine, our company leaders have taken great strides to get to know team members and their working styles. It’s a subject that comes up regularly and is often paired with conversations of how the different generations best like to work.
Some may argue that such conversations are a waste of time and, instead, prefer to run their businesses in the spirit of the “It’s my way or the highway” line of thinking. While this style of leadership can be effective in ensuring all employees operate the same, it’s limiting.
When given freedom and allowed to operate in a way that maximizes their own efficiency, people flourish. For some, that means working quietly with their office door closed for an hour or two. For others, it means gathering a group of people to brainstorm an idea. The key is balance – and a healthy respect for one another.
In our business, getting the most out of people is important. It maximizes efficiency and keeps people engaged. People working in a way that works for them has allowed our company to create the amazing work for which we’re known. The best thing about it? Everyone – the company, the employee and the client – wins when the proper balance is found.
For those who want to implement an office culture that better considers others’ personalities, start by making small changes you can feel comfortable with. Ask employees how they work best and what changes they would implement to make work more enjoyable for them. You’ll be amazed at where the conversation can go once you are open to accepting others’ ideas.
To get you started, I polled our own office, asking people to answer one of two questions: “What do your work habits say about you?” or “As an introvert/ambivert/extrovert, what tools or tactics allow you to do your job to the best of your ability?”
The responses are below. I hope they’re helpful to you!
~Melissa Biernacinski serves as Director of Media Relations for Imagine Communications.
Contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE OFFICE EXTROVERTS
“The most important thing I have had to learn (and therefore the best advice I have to give) is that if you are an extrovert be aware of the positive and negative aspects of your personality in the workplace. It is easy for an extrovert to be sidetracked and sidetrack others. To combat being sidetracked, I maintain a task list that I constantly refer to throughout the day. I frequently have to force myself to focus on completing a task before moving on to another. As long as it’s on the list, I know the task will get done and getting to check it off the list is a big motivator for me. As for sidetracking others, I don’t always succeed, but I try to be aware of when others are focused on something so I don’t interrupt them. Most people will not come right out and tell you when you are being a disruption, so an extrovert will get along better with co-workers if she picks up on social cues. Being an extrovert is part of who I am and for the most part has helped me succeed in the workplace, but timing is very important.” –Donna Namchek, Bookkeeper and Receptionist
“As an extrovert I find myself taking time to see what peers are working on. A mental break from my own work can be just what it takes to spark a brilliant idea! … Communicating between my peers helps to keep my thoughts flowing. Feedback and dialogue pushes ideas to their highest potential.” –Julie Dickinson, Graphic Designer
“As an extrovert I enjoy face-to-face interaction, especially when I am working on a project or have a question. I try to make a list of my priorities every day or once a week to not only keep me on track, but to make the best use of other people’s time who may not work the same way.” –Megan Lane, Director of Client Relations
THE OFFICE AMBIVERTS
“As an ambivert, I enjoy being surrounded with creative people. However, I have my moments when the headphones go on and I go into my own little world.” –Cynthia Carbajal, Art Director
“As an ambivert, I can’t work without my headphones. Most of the places I’ve worked have had loud environments, so when I need to concentrate, I can put on my headphones and tune out the surroundings yet remain accessible. … The tracking spreadsheet I created to manage projects is the tool that allows me to be my best. In Client Relations, we are always in the middle of a project or have to navigate between clients and internal departments. The spreadsheet shows what I need to do next in my introvert moments and keeps me focused in my extrovert.” –Nadia Zerka, Client Relations Manager
“I’m an ambivert (51 percent introvert, 49 percent extrovert), which means I can function reasonably well in most work environments. I maintain an open door policy, so coworkers pop in and out of my office all day, and I seem to be able to get my work done. But if I’m working on a project that requires intense focus and creativity, my preference would be total isolation and silence.” –Brian Rouff, Managing Partner
“As an ambivert I enjoy listening to music when I design; it helps with the design process and makes the creative juices flow. However, I usually like it quiet when I’m writing so that I can speak aloud.” –Diana Chege, Client Relations Manager
THE OFFICE INTROVERT
“As an introvert in the workplace and as a writer, I work best when all is quiet. However, my co-workers are awesome, and I recognize that being open, available and involved with the team is valuable, so I only shut my door if I’m struggling with something and really need to focus.” –Melissa Biernacinski, Director of Media Relations