Managing Introverted Team Members

Harnessing the Power of Independent People

Red marble standing out from the group.

Some people don't want to be part of the crowd.

© iStockphoto/Alina555

Sita is one of your most creative, talented, and intelligent team members.

When she works from her home office, she comes up with highly innovative solutions to clients' needs. She prefers to work on her own and is successful, productive, and happy.

The problem is that, on certain projects, you need her to work closely with other team members. When she has to do this, she isn't at her best. She finds it difficult to speak up, she's easily distracted by office noise, and she has trouble thinking creatively.

So, how can you harness Sita's strengths as an independent worker, and encourage her to integrate more effectively with the rest of your team?

In this article, we'll look at how you can successfully manage people with an independent or introverted disposition, and we'll discuss what you can do to channel their unique strengths, so that they can shine in a group.

How to Recognize Introverts

Introversion is a personality type that can be identified by certain behaviors, such as quietness, a preference for solitude, and thoughtfulness. Many personality models and tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator   and the Big Five Personality Traits Model   , include a measure of introversion or extroversion.

You can recognize introverts as people who:

  • Would rather work alone than with a group.
  • Don't speak up often, especially in a group setting. (When they do, their comments are often thoughtful, intelligent, and considerate.)
  • Are good listeners and have a high degree of emotional intelligence  .
  • Like to process information slowly, and prefer to think through new ideas and concepts before they discuss them.
  • Prefer to focus intently on one task at a time.
  • Don't like to be the center of attention, and prefer one-on-one feedback or praise.
  • Don't have a large friendship group at work, but they have deep and meaningful connections with the friends they do have.

Although some introverts are shy, most simply prefer to work alone. (Shyness is a form of social anxiety that results from fear of judgment or social interaction, but this doesn't apply to all introverts.)

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