If you’re a developer like me, you are probably seen with your head down, staring at your keyboard or computer screen. Maybe with your headphones in, listening to your favorite album (“Endless Summer” by The Midnight) and click-clacking away on your keyboard.
After countless lines of HTML and CSS, you leave your “programmer’s trance.” By the time 5 o’clock comes around, you realize that you’ve gone the entire day without speaking a single word.
Many developers are introverts, and, while there’s nothing wrong with that, it can make it challenging to fit into your company culture. Especially if your culture is very energetic and outgoing.
So how can you help your quiet employees feel like they’re a part of the organization? In this blog, I’ll break down 4 easy ways you can help introverted employees come out of their shells and feel like a part of your company culture.
Before you decide either way, here are a few things you should keep in mind...
Misconceptions About Developers (And Other Introverts)
To understand why introverts don’t always fit into engaging company cultures, let’s get a (mis)conceptions about developers out of the way.
- We’re heavily introverted.
- The only language we speak is geek-speak.
- We’re one-trick monkeys, coding is our only specialty.
- Communication is kept to a minimum unless you’re a fellow developer or it’s through slack messages.
- The only things we’re interested in are computers, comics, and video games.
- We’ll introduce you to our friends and family.
- We have the best social presence because we’re always online.
Introverts, in general, can have a bad rap, especially in industries where being outgoing is considered a job requirement. Here are some misconceptions about introverts people sometimes believe:
- They’re judgmental.
- They don’t care or aren’t engaged in the culture.
- They don’t like people.
- They’re afraid to share their opinion.
- They want to be left alone.
While some of these may be true for developers and introverts, they greatly depend on the individual. Some developers use Instagram on a daily basis, while others may not have a single social media account. Some introverts may hold their tongues because they’re afraid of getting shut down, but others may just take more time to process information.
According to some studies, introverts make up about 30-50 percent of the population. That’s a pretty big chunk of people! And, while they might seem less bold and outgoing than their extroverted counterparts, introverts can bring some excellent benefits to your company.
- They’re skilled listeners. Introverts have higher observational skills, so it’s a good idea to include them in your company meetings. They’ll be more likely to understand what your customers want and how you can best help them.
- They’re always learning. Many introverts value self-growth, and they’re more likely to be avid readers. When you hire an introvert, you can feel confident knowing you’re hiring someone who will grow and develop on their own as well as in the workplace.
- They’re open-minded. Because introverts are always listening, they’re more likely to hear multiple sides of an argument. They are open to new ideas and are typically more flexible.
- They have a solid work/life balance. This isn’t always the case, but many introverts are skilled at knowing when it’s time to take a break. They refuel when they need to, and that’s a significant benefit for you because they will be less likely to burn out.
These are only a few reasons to work with introverts. Everyone is unique, so they might not apply to every introverted individual, but they certainly apply to many of the introverted developers, writers, and designers I’ve worked with.
If you haven’t hired many introverts yet, you likely will at some point. So how can you help integrate them into your existing company culture?
Follow these tips to do just that!
4 Tips For Helping Introverts Fit In With An Extroverted Company Culture
1. Give Them Time To Fit In.
When your new developer joins the team, they might seem like an android at first. When you chat with them, you might get responses such as, “Hello, goodbye, and good.”
Developers tend to observe and analyze their environment in their own scope and pace. The exact same process about how we go about learning a new IDE. Once they adapt and the “trial version” of the experience is over, they can start having fun.
Any time you hire a new introverted employee, give them several months to acclimate. They need some time to feel comfortable around your team and to let their full personality shine through. Once they’re used to your culture, you might be surprised at how energetic they can be.
2. Provide Comfortable Communication Channels
Some of us aren’t the greatest on-the-spot speakers. In person, we tend to absorb ideas discussed in meetings more than provide actual input.
An easy way to get past this is to communicate through Slack if possible when a problem or question arises. This gives your employees a chance to come up with a clear answer and saves them time from having to explain themselves twice.
Slack channels are also a great place to help your introverted employees slowly immerse themselves in your culture. Start a group chat channel where you share ideas, pet pictures, and inspiration. Chances are, they’ll feel more comfortable jumping in and sharing their thoughts on Slack than they might in person.
3. Add, Commit, Push, Pull & Merge
Casual conversation often comes up throughout the workday, and it may not be your employee’s strong suit. If this is the case, Git’s concepts of version control can provide a lot of help.
Here’s how the process works:
- “Add” the thought you would like to contribute to your head
- “Commit” to it in your mind
- Once you see an opening, “push” that thought into the conversation
- “Pull” information you find interesting
- “Merge” it back into your own head
There are several blog articles you can share to help them through the process. It’s a good idea for you to familiarize yourself with it as well. You can also frame your questions in certain ways to help them open up more. For instance, instead of asking, “Did you have a good weekend?”, ask, “What did you do this weekend?” Or ask, “What was your favorite part of the movie?” instead of “Did you like the movie?”
4. Don’t Be Afraid Of Silence
As a developer it’s really common for us to enter an emotionless state called the, “Coding Trance.” It may seem a bit weird that we become verbally silent, but in our mind, there are countless ideas, solutions, and frustrations that are processing instead.
If your introverted employees are quiet, enjoy it. They’re coming up with great ideas and highly focused on their work. Don’t feel obligated to include them in casual conversation if they’re concentrated. Remember, silence is golden.
However, if there are moments where you can get to know the employee better, don’t be afraid to reach out. Ask them questions. Invite them to your company happy hour.
Not all of us code from dusk till dawn. Video games are a common ground for many developers but we still like to go out for drinks, watch movies, or even attend the local symphony.
Embrace Introverts In Your Extroverted Culture
If your culture is extremely outgoing, it’s tempting to think you should only hire extroverts. The important thing to remember is that a successful company is your team’s passion. Introverts can be just as engaged and open as extroverts. They just need longer naps after team meetings.
By creating an engaging company culture, you’ll provide your company with an atmosphere that encourages personal growth and collaboration. And that’s something everyone can get behind, introverts and extroverts alike.
Once your company culture is on track, it’s time to make sure your marketing is as well. Team up with ROI Online, and we’ll align your sales and marketing efforts into a well-oiled machine that’s well worth the investment.