Study Examines Why Extroversion and Introversion Matter in the Workplace

Summary of:

Taylor, M. “Personality styles: Why they matter in the workplace” (2020). Economic Alternatives, 2020, Issue 1, pp. 148-163.

Background & Theory:

A diverse set of personality styles are often represented in the workplace, sometimes causing tension and workplace conflict. Understanding the nuances associated with extroversion and introversion is therefore crucial in allowing organizations to accommodate the needs of individual employees. This study examines these nuances and suggests that accommodating them can lead to greater workplace productivity and success.

Question(s):

Research was conducted to answer the following question:

    1. What organizational steps can be taken to ensure employees with diverse personality styles can contribute their best work and live up to their full potential in the workplace?

Methods:

This study was conducted via a review of literature on the topic of personality. Its purpose was to synthesize available information from a variety of sources and compile it into specific action steps for organizations to use to successfully navigate a variety of personality styles.

For this study, personality style is based on an individual’s sensitivity to external stimulation. Commonly referred to as “introvert” and “extrovert”, these terms comprise the level of external stimulation preferred by an individual, with “introverts” preferring minimal external stimulation and “extroverts” preferring more external stimulation.

Online library searches, Google Scholar searches, and snowballing were all used to collect studies relating to personality, the final resource count being 13 empirical studies, 9 conceptual articles, 13 opinion pieces, and one book.

Results:

After reviewing numerous past studies, a number of suggestions were revealed for organizations navigating a workplace with diverse personalities. The study primarily focused on research around extroversion and introversion.

The first suggestion is that an organization should recognize that no personality style is superior to another. Studies showed that extroverts are often more valued in today’s workplace than introverts. However, this can harm the self-esteem of introverts. Research suggests that maintaining a balanced mindset that views extroverts and introverts equally is more beneficial.

The second suggestion for organizations is to understand that introversion and extroversion exist not as two separate categories, but rather lie on a spectrum where most people fall somewhere in the middle. Therefore, leaders must be careful not to ascribe all attributes of a personality style to a specific employee.

Third, research suggests that organizations should encourage employees to identify their own personality style. With knowledge of how they operate, employees can tap into what motivates them and be open about their needs and preferences in the workplace.

Fourth, the research suggested that individuals in an organization should consider the preferences of others. Hosting trainings on the personality preferences of team members has been shown to improve communication and trust within teams.

Fifth, it’s important for organizations to accommodate both extroverts and introverts in the workplace. For extroverts, leaders should recognize the benefits of their traits and understand the intent behind an extrovert’s behavior when said behavior seems negative. For introverts, leaders should not attempt to convert them into extroverts and rather, fully value the gifts they bring to the table.

Sixth, the research supported the implementation of flexible workspaces and creative scheduling. It was found that employees working in their preferred environment are most effective, and constantly forcing someone into a different working style hinders performance. Therefore, the use of a flexible workspace can allow both introverts and extroverts to work in a comfortable environment that increases everyone’s individual productivity.

Additionally, allowing creative scheduling gives employees the freedom to find a balance between action and reflection, building in alone time between taxing activities if necessary. Finally, the research supported organizations utilizing everyone’s strengths to build teams where members complement each other. Celebrating the unique traits of employees in this way has shown to improve workplace performance.

What We Can Learn:

Looking over this research, we can take away these key insights:

  • Recognizing and utilizing the strengths of both extroverts and introverts in the workplace allows for a more inclusive and more productive working atmosphere. Implementing personality tests and utilizing the results in this way can lead to better workplace performance.

Final Takeaways

For Consultants: Workplace conflict can easily arise due to different personality styles. Imploring organizations to invest in understanding employee personalities can be very helpful to deal with personality conflict in a proactive manner.

For Everyone: Understanding where you fall on the introversion-extroversion spectrum can help explain your abundance of energy in some situations and lack thereof in other situations. This can be helpful for setting appropriate boundaries at work.