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Wed, Aug 29, 2012

Talent Strategies

Harnessing the Strengths of Introverts in the Workplace

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Thousands of marketers are gathered at HubSpot’s Inbound conference in Boston this week, sharing tips and tools for connecting with clients using great content. One of the guest speakers, Susan Cain, offered a message that is just as useful for HR pros as their marketing peers. Cain is the author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” which examines the value of introverts in the workplace and the steps that leaders can take to maximize their leadership potential.

Among the highlights of her presentation:

  • The world tends to be biased toward introverts, even though they make up a third to half of the population.
  • The traits that get introverts in trouble are also the most valuable. They tend to stay with problems longer and proceed with caution.
  • Open-plan offices can be a struggle for introverts and can actually curtail productivity and creativity.
  • Organizations often devalue the importance of solitude for the creative process.

She also shared a few takeaways for leaders who want to better support the introverts on their team.

Rethink Meetings

  • Replace the agenda with advance action items. Group brainstorming isn’t as effective as individual brainstorming before you come together.
  • Halfway through the meeting, let people stop and write things down.
  • Try electronic brainstorming, which removes many of the groupthink barriers that derail in-person meetings.

Rethink Work Spaces

  • Carve out public spaces that make it easy to casually mingle.
  • Balance public spaces with private areas that allow for solitude.
  • Create transcendent spaces that promote contemplation.

Rethink Leadership

  • When identifying potential leaders, don’t look for the biggest talker. The core idea should matter, not the ability to pontificate in a particular way.

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