It’s hard coaching introverts because they often don’t speak out when they need help. If they don’t speak up, it’s harder to help them. Being able to coach someone at work requires that they share what is going on inside of them and letting you into their life.
I was recently working with a client, let’s call her Michelle. She is an introvert. She is thoughtful, reflective and loves to dig into her thoughts and emotions.
“My boss just doesn’t care,” She told me.
“Doesn’t care about what?” I asked.
“His job. Me. Life.”
“Well, he cares about the money, but he doesn’t care about his employees.”
“Why do you think that?”
“He never checks in with me. He rarely meets with me. He just doesn’t appreciate my effort.”
This is a common issue with many introverts. They don’t feel appreciated and they want to leave and go somewhere else.
Instead of asking for support, introverts often put their heads down and try to work harder. They eventually get more frustrated and end up transferring or leaving the company all together.
Introverted personality types often double down on being introverted and eventually they give up. It’s just too much for them and they make a change.
All this could be avoided if both sides were willing to engage with each other. Many managers and business owners are extroverted. They don’t understand introverts well and they expect that if a team member needs help then they would speak up. They need just as much coaching support as extroverts, but often get ignored.
Before we dive into how to coach them, let’s dig a little deeper into how introverts work and need support. Most introverts have these following traits.
- Prefer to write to communicate to team members rather than talk.
- Are reflective.
- Take time to think things through before they make a choice.
- Like quiet time to help them focus on their work.
- Feel tired after being in a crowd.
Most introverts will describe how their energy levels are replenished by being away from people, but what a lot of people don’t know about introverts is that one-on-one meetings also help them replenish their energy too.
Many of the people that I coach are introverts. They are usually a blend, but they are definitely more on the introverted side of their personality.
There are many famous introverts.
- Elon Musk
- Bill Gates
- J.K. Rawling
- Warren Buffett
- Albert Einstein
- Meryl Streep
The list goes on and on. They can be described in many ways, but through my coaching experience of working with introverts they are able to dig deeply quicker than extroverts. This helps them be more aware of their personality type and how they can support their team.
I think most introverts are very coachable. In fact coaching introverts is pleasurable because their personality is naturally reflective and this lends to them being able to dig into their thoughts and emotions. This helps them find opportunities that they can act on.
When you start working with team members on a one-on-one basis you should have a structure in place. As a fellow introvert it’s important to have a consistent practice. If I know that I’m meeting with someone every other week or once a month then I can plan accordingly.
When I teach leaders how to support and coach introverts we first discuss their goal. Why do they want to help their team members?
First you must figure out if you are an introvert, extrovert or a blend. My blend is is 50/50. I enjoy public events, but after it's over I need a day to recover.
What personality of type do you think you are?
- Introvert Blend
- Extrovert Blend
It's best to start with the basics to build your personality awareness. Take the Career Energy Personality Quiz and learn which personality type you are and how you can recharge your battery so you can do your best work.
When you understand “your why” your vision becomes clearer. You are more likely to be consistent.
So ask yourself:
- Why do you want to coach the person?
- What results would you like to see?
Digging into your "why" and "what" will help you focus on caring about the conversation. This is the best way to make sure you are fully invested in the person you are coaching.
You must also find a way to listen well. I take notes because I get easily distracted. If I’m taking notes I’m paying attention to the details and this shows the person that I care. When an introvert sees that you care about them they are willing to work hard to reach their goals.
This means putting in the time to understand your teammate's personality and goals. When you understand who they are and what they want, you’ll find it easier to inspire them to do the work that they are passionate about and get great results for them and the company.
The last part is helping them see their opportunities. To be a great coach you have to allow them to fail. You can’t solve their problems. This is another big mistake leaders make at work. They try to impart advice. You must refrain from imparting advice unless they ask for it. Ask questions, dig deeper and allow for your team members to find the solution that works for them.
- Set up a consistent coaching system with your team members. (Schedule a recurring meeting to meet at least once a month)
- Show that you care about listening to them. I suggest taking notes, so you can catch the subtle changes in their tone and details as they talk with you.
- Help them see their opportunities and create a plan of action that they believe in.
You can get the Dig to Fly Method mini-guide that helps walk you start building a coaching routine with your employees.
If you have any questions about how to coach your employees just send me a quick message and I'll see how I can help.
Image courtesy of Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash