Roar like a Tiger!
Inclusivity within organisations usually brings to mind disability awareness, race and gender policies and accommodation of special needs. Rarely does the question, is your organisation fair to your introverts come to the fore. Yet, introversion and extroversion are one of the most highly researched areas of personality psychology and where you lie on this spectrum influences almost everything that you do. Creating an environment and culture inclusive of all personalities is vital to successful employee engagement and experience.
Most are familiar with the terms introvert and extrovert but misperceptions exist as to what they are. It is now generally accepted that the main differential lies in our sensory needs. Extroverts are energised by high social interaction, introverts may like social interaction but at a point will have enough and need to take time to recharge. Remember no one person is a total introvert or extrovert. As Carl Jung, father of these terms said ‘There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum’. Although with 50% of the population claiming introversion tendencies there is enough of us for it to matter.
While driving, Katy Perry’s song ‘Eye of the Tiger’ came on the radio and it reminded me of when my sons’ class had to perform this in school and I remember he said he didn’t like doing it. It was part of an anti-bullying awareness campaign in the school. As I listened to the song I realised why. My son is an introvert, preferring to curl up with a book than play soccer with the other boys outside and in the middle of this song Katy Perry starts to ‘roar like a tiger’. The children had to perform this on stage for the rest of the school and of course what an extroverted thing to have to do but stand on stage and roar as loud as you can like a tiger. This would not suit an introverted child who will most likely be quietly singing than roaring like a tiger.
Where does your organisation lie on the spectrum? Do you expect employees to roar like a tiger or do you support quieter means of working? Can employees use online methods to contribute ideas or are they expected to always speak up at meetings? Does the culture expect participation in lots of employee corporate events (take a look at the movie ‘The Circle’ for a satirical take on this)? Are there quieter areas to work? What do daily schedules look like, lots of meetings or can employees manage their time? There are so many examples the list can go on.
Solitude and time to reflect improve our creativity and decision making. Neuroscience backs this up as we learn more about the brain and how quiet times allow us to tap into our imagination, our mental processing and perspective. Organisational culture is a powerful tool to communicate inclusivity of all personality types and supporting such a mindset is not just of benefit to individuals but supports creativity and innovation in the whole organisation. So, go on, let those who want to roar like a tiger, roar, but for the rest of us we’ll sing a little softly in a quieter space.