Are you an I or an E? This is a familiar question for student affairs professionals primarily those who have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Whether you are an I or E, we all have jobs with goals, objectives and outcomes to meet, but how do you achieve those objectives with such different personality types?
When thinking about Introverts and Extroverts in the workplace the ultimate example that comes to mind is the movie Office Space. In the movie, Jennifer Aniston’s character Joanna was in very unfavorable work environment that provided a lot of challenge but very little support.
One of the most notable scenes in the film is where Joanna was confronted by her supervisor, Stan regrading her job performance. Aside from the work environment, let’s focus on the quality of her job performance. Joanna came to work every day and did her job; she was kind-natured, served her customers and made certain that their orders were correct and ready. She was being compared to one of her more eager co-workers, Brian. Brian was the epitome of an extrovert personality type, very outgoing and animated in his presence. One of the distinguishing factors that Joanna’s supervisor used to discern and measure Joanna’s work from Brian’s were the excessive amount of buttons that adorn their shirts that they called “flair”.
[Below is a dialogue between Stan and Joanna:]
Stan: We need to talk. Do you know what this is about?
Joanna: My, uh, flair?
Stan: Yeah. Or, uh, your lack of flair. Because, I’m counting and I only see fifteen pieces. Let me ask you a question, Joanna.
Stan: What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?
Joanna: Huh. What do I think? Um ,you know what, Stan, if you want me to wear thirty-seven pieces of flair, like your uh, pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum thirty-seven pieces of flair?
Stan: Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.
Joanna: Yeah. You know what? Yeah, I do. I do want to express myself, okay? And I don’t need thirty-seven pieces of flair to do it.
The concept of “flair” is prevalent in today’s student affairs workforce, often we are judged by it and sometimes so much emphasis on this can really overshadow a worker’s true contribution to an organization.
When devising a strategy to consult your employees, workforce development principles tend to help since they fuse human resource best practices with educational foundations. In roles of supervision whether you manage student leaders, part-time or full-time employees it is helpful to provide a road map to success; that road map can start by asking what the goals of the individual are and how can you help them achieve those goals. Understanding the overall value of an individual can really help in employee engagement and retention, identifying these talents can potentially educate the supervisor and aid in completing outlying projects.
To assist in this form of guidance, it is best to find a few objectives and projects that appeal to the employee and his or her strengths, without tapping into that passion your employee will not be utilized to his or her fullest potential. Although this argument depicts an introvert being overshadowed by an extrovert, we must also be cognoscente of the amount of drive and energy that an extrovert can exude. It is imperative that E personality types have the opportunity to socialize and be energetic; the dangers of exuding so much energy can potentially result in a complete burnout of that person. I personality types are more introspective, they need time to assess things and may not be outwardly expressive. Make sure that both I’s and E’s are taken care of and managed first as people, by understanding their talents and secondly as employees, capitalizing upon those talents to solve a programmatic problem within your organization.