Like any other generation, Generation Y is partly the fruit of an environment and the events that mark their formative years. During the last century, in most societies, populations have moved from small agricultural communities towards fast-moving cosmopolitan cities. People had for the first time to learn to prove themselves to strangers and a culture of personality was created.
Moreover, in the last 20 years, due to educational reforms, globalization and constant travel, the pool of people with whom we must connect has shifted from the megacities to the entire globe. It is therefore no wonder our young generation inclined to job hopping and group work is stamped with the sign of extraversion.
However this is only half of the story. Though all generations since the Traditionalists have been in average and increasingly more extroverted in the in/extraversion spectrum, this doesn’t mean that introverts are disappearing and individual differences aren’t quite significant between individuals of the same generation. As a matter of fact, the internal neurological wiring of introverts is different from extroverts and studies suggest that they’ll remain a third to a half of the population.
Last week, I was following this university class called “Psychology and HR”. The topic of the day was socialization and employee integration in the workplace. After a rather vague presentation about basic integration tools for newcomers, I was astonished to hear the teacher propose that “a good socialization tool to put in place is to hire extroverted people in the first place”. I was immediately stunned by the comment: What about introverts? Should they be treated as social pariahs and be refused the right to work? When did the responsibility to ensure that newcomers have a support system (including social support) to start their activity with efficiency has shifted from the HR’s and manager’s hands to the employee’s?
In our teamwork and networking obsessed world, companies blatantly prefer the company of extroverts. “Highly developed social and communication skills” requirements are set for any position available and quickly become synonym to discrimination against introverts (even though introversion and shyness are not the same thing). The result is organizations missing out on all the richness that these individuals can bring.
Don’t get me wrong, I support group work and brainstorming, but I also understand the benefits of introspection and individual problem solving, the importance of creating conditions for all to speak up, of leaders that capitalize on everyone’s strengths and of environments that allow for all to recharge their batteries and work as effectively as possible. My next posts will further discuss the latter.
In an enlightened and autobiographical talk, introversion expert Susan Cain shares with us her views on this bias and all the qualities that introverts can bring to the table. She ends her talk with 3 advices that can make a significant difference in today’s business world.
How do you capitalize on the talents of your team’s introverts?