Tips and Tricks

August 4, 2017 By Alix Hagan

Balancing Work Styles To Get Teamwork Done

August 4, 2017

By Alix Hagan

Read More from Alix Hagan

August 4, 2017

Balancing Work Styles To Get Teamwork Done

By Alix Hagan
Senior Manager, Product Marketing

Remote work may be heaven for the introvert, but plenty of extroverts find off-site work appealing. And vice versa introverts may hate large group gatherings while extroverts thrive in crowds. A team is only as strong as the sum of its parts. Which means success depends on the team’s ability to embrace both personality types.

How do you create an environment that’s friendly to both? You do it by mixing things up. The team leader needs to give introverts and extroverts equal opportunities to express themselves and to get projects done — while keeping in mind their different work and communication styles.

Our recent survey of 1,000 knowledge workers found an almost-even split among work preferences. While 36 percent of the workers preferred working in teams and 32 preferred going solo. It’s safe to say that by using different approaches to collaboration, meetings and communication, you can find a sweet spot for an environment that embraces different personalities.

‘Quiet’ Time vs. the Spotlight

In her book, “Quiet,” Quiet Revolution co-founder Susan Cain says that introverts “listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.” Conflict, big groups and speaking out in public can easily undo them.

To help introverts feel less overwhelmed:

  • Keep meeting groups small and limited to only those who need to be there, whether in-person or online.
  • Avoid impromptu or short-notice meetings to give introverts adequate time to prepare.
  • Structure group activities as much as possible, even social or team-building events.

Scientists believe the extroverts’ brains are actually wired differently, which may explain why extroverts thrive on a multitude of outside stimulus. This includes anything from constantly communicating to being publicly recognized. They aren’t shy about being in the spotlight and they prefer acting in the moment.

To give extroverts opportunities to shine:

  • Add a voluntary 15-minute agenda item at the end of each meeting for an open discussion.
  • Praise them consistently — in public, when possible — to acknowledge good performance.
  • Host quarterly get-togethers for team members in the same geographical area.

Balancing the Styles

The beauty of remote work is that it’s easily adaptable to any style. The trick is to find the harmony among the differences. Here are some more ideas to get the most out of your team’s dynamics:

  • Meetings: Give all team members the chance to run meetings. Introverts will rise to the occasion as long as they have ample lead time for prep.
  • Ideas: Create an idea board so everyone can contribute. You can also brainstorm electronically and request input in writing.
  • Communication: For online meetings, alternate between video and audio only. This takes some pressure off the introverts while still giving extroverts an opportunity to feed off the group energy.