Shy employees are valuable team members; they tend to be thoughtful, more deliberate in their actions, and a treasure trove of observation. As a quiet individual, introverts are more likely to notice things going on behind the scenes, and contribute good insight. When it comes to encouraging their team performance, it is important to find ways that work well with their communication style.
Introverted employees will respond best to low-pressure, private communication. Being put on the spot, especially in a public setting, will stress this type of employee rather than encourage involvement. Try approaching the situation differently by asking your employee how they might feel comfortable contributing to the team, and offering time for them to prepare for upcoming conversations.
If you need to discuss their team performance, it may be best to schedule a private meeting as to avoid the unwanted attention of addressing them in public. When scheduling the meeting, try sending an email ahead of time with the message, “I would like to meet with you this week, and discuss XYZ”. This process allows them to prepare their thoughts and make them feel more comfortable communicating in the meeting, and vocalizing any ideas they may have. Additionally, the medium of the email allows the the introverted party to open it in their own time, and avoid any feelings of anxiety that may come with unexpected face-to-face interaction.
Another environment where shy employees may need encouragement is a group meeting. To get introverted team members to participate in this type of setting, try altering the way you run your meeting. For instance, when gathering to discuss a new marketing plan, ask team members to write down the two best and two worst things about the new plan. You as the leader can then go around the room and have team members read what they wrote aloud, or instead, collect the papers and read the comments anonymously to the group while you lead the discussion. An added bonus to having team members write down ideas is that it prevents “piggybacking” in discussion; employees are forced to have to conjure up original thoughts and opinions, creating a more diverse pool of ideas, which is great for the entire team.
By accommodating your shy employees, you are capitalizing on their strengths, benefiting the whole company while creating a more positive environment for all individuals.