An introvert’s guide to navigating the extroverted media world

Adriana Santoro
By Adriana Santoro | 11 July 2024
Adriana Santoro.

Media companies need to recognise and support introverts in the workplace by tailoring development plans and communication methods. Doing so will enhance productivity and staff retention. Adriana Santoro explains.

When I started my media career, I remember looking at my superiors thinking, ‘I’ll never be able to move up in this industry, I’m too introverted.’

I would look at the way some people could speak so effortlessly in front of a crowd. I was envious of their ability to build strong relationships with people, making it seem like they’d been friends for years.

I constantly second-guessed myself and no matter how perfectly I filled my job description, no matter how many extra hours I put in, I still felt like I wouldn’t be good enough, as my only role models were extroverts (or secret introverts acting like extroverts!).

This is an industry that’s all about communication so, it makes sense that there are plenty of people working in it who were born to give speeches. Or call out the answers to questions during team-building activities. Or be the centre of attention on their birthday.

For the opposite kind of person, though, these things can create a sense of dread.

I understand we all need to be pushed out of our comfort zone from time to time however, this shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Companies and managers should take the time to understand everyone within their team. From there, you can create a plan for an individual’s growth that’s tailored to them.

Here are a few quick fixes to help the introverts in your team.

Quick fix number 1: Get to know your staff – not only from a work point of view but from a personal point of view

Have one-on-ones with each team member and send them ‘get to know you’ surveys or personality tests. Do everything you can to really understand who you’re working with.

Quick fix number 2: Make sure individual development plans and goals are truly tailored, not just copy-and-paste

Ask yourself, what would make this person uncomfortable? There’s a difference between pushing someone out of their comfort zone in a way that helps their progression and throwing them in the deep end. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few smaller steps to achieve a goal if the outcome seems daunting or unachievable.

Quick fix number 3: Give people options

For example, if you want someone to introduce themselves on their first day, ask them how they want to be introduced. Would they prefer a public speaking option? Or simply an all-staff email? Maybe they don’t even want a big introduction and they’re happy to meet people in their own time.

Quick fix number 4: Ask questions

When you’re seeking opinions, make sure you do this in a range of different ways. If you run an all-office session, the extroverts will shine, but you won’t truly get the introverted opinions. Include one-on-one sessions or individual team sessions. An introvert is likely to feel more comfortable within their team than in a big group.

Final quick fix: Think about the people you’re assigning to a client

Think about the type of client when you’re assigning resources. Do they rely on personal relationships? Do they love a coffee catch-up or an event? Or do they simply care about good work? Don’t look for an easy gap to slot the client into. Think about pairing them with a team that can deliver on their needs in the best way.

Changes like these have the power to make people feel more respected and comfortable in their work environment which, ultimately, will increase productivity and staff retention.

People shouldn’t feel like they need to fit a certain mould to progress in their careers. When you truly get to know the people within your company, you’re levelling the playing field.

And to the introverts – the people that prefer to be on the tools rather than public speaking. The ones who go to media events and opt to chat quietly in the corner with a familiar group rather than make new friends. The ‘quiet achievers’ or the ‘underdogs.’ Keep doing what you’re doing.

The company that you want to work for will not only accept you for who you are, they’ll celebrate you. Remember, your unique qualities are your strengths.

Adriana Santoro is an Associate Director at Hatched.

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