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Introverts and extroverts at work

Do certain members of your team seem more energised as the day goes on while others lag behind? You might be witnessing one characteristic of introverts and extroverts at work.

I’m a morning person. Once 2.00pm hits, my energy levels noticeably go down and, while I can still get work done, I notice it takes me longer to complete tasks and my focus is nowhere near as intense as it is during the mornings.

Whether this is related to my circadian rhythms (the internal body clock that regulates our energy levels throughout the day), genetics, environment or diet I have no real idea but I just know that my productivity at work is simply better early in the day. The point for me? Get high priority things done early.

One possibility I’ve recently been considering is the introvert/extrovert factor and whether this might influence why my energy levels peak earlier in the day.

While the common belief around introverts and extroverts is around social preferences – introverts are shy, and extroverts are more outgoing – more recent research focuses on the individual’s energy levels and how they recharge. Short summary? An introvert loses energy from social interactions and extroverts gain energy from social interactions.

This research concludes a major difference between introverts and extroverts is whether they recharge energy from being alone or with other people. Introverts recharge when they are alone. Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge when they are with people.

In a short YouTube clip, British-American author Simon Sinek talks about introverts having so many coins to spend per day: every social interaction is a coin spent. In contrast, an extrovert gains a coin with every social interaction. So an introvert’s energy levels can be depleted simply as a result of interacting with people throughout the day.

So how does this relate to your employees? How about the fact that figures indicate we have almost equal numbers of introverts and extroverts at work? According to author Susan Cain, our society is split almost equally between introverts and extroverts:

“A more recent study, published by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type Research Services in 1996 sampled 914,219 people and found that 49.3 percent were extroverts and 50.7 percent were introverts.”

As a HR Consultant, I witness the impacts on a business of differing approaches of those charged with managing people. Good managers recognise that while they should treat people equally, they don’t have to treat them the same. People have differences and preferences…in the way they interact, the times they are most productive and times when their energy levels peak throughout the working day. It’s therefore logical to make an effort to create working environments where individuals can continue to be the best version of themselves at work. One example? Flexible starting times. Another? Workspaces where people can choose to work on their own or within a group for certain periods during the day. The key to success is in creating workplace environments where both extroverts and introverts not only excel, but also can function cooperatively with their teammates.

Any competent HR Consultant can draft a Contract of Employment or a company policy. Bare Bones Consulting’s experience extends to an understanding of human behaviour that you can access to identify each of your team members’ preferences and engagement triggers. This enables you to get the best out of each person for longer. That’s not only smart, but has tangible dollar value as it impacts on business productivity, increased employee competency (therefore fewer staff required) and retention of key personnel. Plus we’ll visit you before 2.00pm so you get the best version of us.

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