Many roles in IT are, by nature, solitary work. But as user experience becomes more important, it is vital that your IT team be able to engage effectively with both internal and external consumers. Introverts may not choose to become more extroverted on their own. You may need to provide your team with both the encouragement and tools they need to increase their interactions with co-workers and customers. Consider these tips to help your introverted IT people engage more comfortably.
Expand their comfort zones
Many introverts who find personal interaction uncomfortable are quite chatty and engaged online. Continue to provide channels for continued online interaction, but also schedule some one-on-one and small-group meetings to slowly get them accustomed to increased engagement. Provide a mix of group and solo time for best results. Even those who make the leap to becoming more extroverted will likely need some alone time to recharge.
Bolster team engagement
Schedule team-building activities for your IT team to give them the opportunity to interact with employees in other departments and get to know them on an informal basis. Focus especially on group activities that require different competencies, work styles and cooperative efforts to succeed. The skills and relationships forged in team activities can be brought into the workplace to increase confidence and comfort on the job.
Share what they know
As with most people, introverts are more confident when speaking on topics they understand in depth. Begin a program for IT professionals to give presentations on their areas of expertise. Start with small groups or internal lunch-and-learns. Allow attendees to ask clarifying questions as needed, and solicit feedback on what they have learned.
Once the speaker has gained confidence in this controlled environment, consider larger venues for the most successful speakers. This can help position the employee and your organization as thought leaders.
As technology grows increasingly consumer-centric, it's critical that every employee is able to interact at every level. Change the internal perception of techies as being standoffish and introverted by providing opportunities for interaction. With increased visibility comes increased engagement, which is good for both the employee and the organization.