How to manage introverts and extroverts

Learning to work with different personality types starts with education, not assumptions

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The tech world can be a haven for people who enjoy solitary, focused work, and it often attracts people who gravitate toward the quiet end of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. For managers, the challenge is how to make the most of introverts’ and extroverts’ strengths. Team diversity can be a tremendous asset if companies are prepared to accommodate divergent work preferences.

“It’s important to create an environment where everyone is comfortable communicating. We make sure our people managers are aware of the types of people they are managing, and don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach,” says Dan Cox, vice president of engineering at Yahoo.

Extroverts tend to thrive in group settings and are prone to multitasking, while introverts tend to value quiet reflection and prefer to work on a single task. People who naturally command attention might appear to have the advantage in the corporate world, but managers say it takes all types to create a successful work environment.

Introversion can be a powerful tool, say Rajeev Behera, CEO of Reflektive, which makes employee performance-management software. “Qualities like introspection and analysis allow introverts to listen to peers, stakeholders and external sources, and [introverts’ ability] to merge these findings together to make recommendations is extremely valuable in the innovative IT setting.”

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