The last thing you want to do, as an introvert, is to be the center of attention. By nature, introverts tend to gravitate towards seclusion and are always willing to be behind the production, but not usually on center stage. Within the corporate community, managers won’t always be faced with rounded individuals who are open to team building exercises. However, it is almost impossible to escape meeting an introvert every now and then, in one form or another.
How to Engage Introverts in the Workplace
Introverted employees add value to the company as well as anyone else, and the aim of the organization is to put forward a diverse workforce.
While there might be general activities and team building exercises, not all will be suited for the introvert. In fact, some of these activities designed to foster a bond among workers tend to further alienate the introvert.
They won’t naturally seek out ways to associate with people.
The onus is then on the manager to find ways to include them that will make them comfortable enough to want to participate. By so doing, the company will be on its way to not only greater cohesion among staff members but will benefit from increased productivity as well.
This article will help you to identify 10 team building exercises managers can employ that are geared towards the introvert in the workplace.
1. Participating in an Obstacle Course
This is one of the best ways to engage an introvert in an outdoor activity. The aim of this game is to navigate a series of barriers to get to the finish line.
While by nature this is an activity that needs several participants, each individual is working on their own.
This means that your introverted employee will still be able to participate while acting independently. They won’t need to communicate much with anyone and benefit only brief snippets of conversation throughout the activity.
2. Engaging in More Reflective Activities
This is certainly an idea that would go over well with an introvert. Introverts spend much of their time in their heads and are aroused very easily and with less stimulation than an extrovert. So, asking them to watch a video, or to read a story and then write personal thoughts afterwards, isn’t a far stretch from their basic personality.
It would be easier to start with it, instead of ending a day of activities with this activity. This will allow the introvert to open up to the day ahead, and to engage actively with other individuals from the onset.
After all, being an introvert doesn’t mean they act like hermits and nomads. They do often engage with other people, though they may shy away from more open and daring activities.
If you incorporate this into your day then you might have an easier time getting them to participate later.
3. Trying the Game Escape Room
This is an activity that you should be appealing to an introvert. This game is played by scattering clues throughout a determined place and having teams follow clues that lead to a grand prize, or the exit.
Usually, these teams are small. So this makes them ideal for an introvert.
The key is to pair these individuals with other employees they are more comfortable with. It would be a good idea to have them choose the group they want to be a part of before you start.
This activity is one of the many fun team building exercises. However, it should not be introduced during orientation. If an introvert is not comfortable, then participation is least likely.
4. Having Lunch with the Team
This might not be an activity, which many managers consider. Nonetheless, it is a great way to foster teamwork among colleagues.
Employees are placed into different lunch teams and given gift cards that they can use at various locations within the city. There they will have lunch together, which will help to develop a bond among the staff members.
This can be done on a monthly basis and with different sets of people each time. In this way, the introvert will be even slightly more comfortable opening up to small groups of people at a time.
5. Have a Go at Slow Dating
Whereas speed dating is designed to allow you to meet as many people as you can in a limited amount of time, slow dating is its reverse. In this activity instead of a line, participants sit in a circle facing each other in small groups.
The emphasis is placed on small groups each time since an introvert will pull back from large audiences. The first person in the group is handed a blank booklet and a pen.
They write a question in a random section of the book, pass it on to the next person who answers the question and then write another question. Each person gets a chance to do this and the last person will read the questions and answers while the other members guess who gave what answers.
This is not an activity that will draw attention to the introvert since responses are basically anonymous until the end. It should, therefore, be a fun way to get them involved.
6. Get the Introvert to Talk
It is a myth that often goes uncorrected that introverts don’t like to talk. Think about a small group of tech-savvy youngsters, socially isolated at school, and often referred to as nerds. What would be the best way to get that person to speak to you? The answer is simple: talk about things they are knowledgeable about.
The same is true for the workplace. If you find a way to talk about something that an introvert is interested in, they might out talk even you.
A strategy that can be employed is experiential learning. Participants take part in an immersive experience that gets them out of their comfort zones in attempts to solve real-life problems using various techniques.
Introverts are, therefore, less likely to be conscious of themselves as activities are masked when similar to actual daily activities. They will be able to participate without revealing much about themselves, which might make this particular activity attractive to them.
7. Provide Safe Zones for Introverts
Social gatherings can be anxiety-provoking for many introverts. Another fallacy about introverts is that they don’t like to engage with others publicly. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
As a matter of fact, they tend to absorb more out of the experiences because they take more time to reflect afterwards. This is why it’s important not to bombard the person with too much at once, without offering them a chance to unwind.
It would be helpful to provide a designated area where they can get some kind of refuge from all the activities. You can offer quiet spots such as a café or conference room so that they can relax.
Extroverts, too, have their own fallacies. Loving the outdoors and heart-pounding activities doesn’t mean you just wind up the extrovert and they go until they are wound again. They too need a downtime, so these quiet spots might just work for them too.
8. Join the Board Game Marathon
This game is as straightforward as they come. Several different board games are introduced and employees can even have a battle if they so desire.
This activity can be hosted every week, at the end of the workweek, and is sure to entice even the most reclusive introvert. This is because there isn’t much talking, depending on the game.
Other games, such as Parcheesi will have more players, but with everyone competing for the win, who has time for criticism?
9. Try Your Hand at Type Fight
This is a competitive game that not only will it reel in the introvert but will also highlight their creativity. This activity can be held as often as you wish, perhaps bi-monthly.
Two coworkers often face off (these persons can be selected by the manager to ensure the introvert is included) in a typography contest. They are both given the same letter of the alphabet and have to creatively design the letter. The rest of the company will then vote for the best design.
An incentive can be given to the winner to encourage future participation.
10. The Good ‘Ole Salt and Pepper
This is a traditional game that can be a fun way for team members to get familiar with each other, and that can include the introvert.
In this game, famous word pairs are named, such as salt and pepper, macaroni and cheese, and Mickey and Minnie. One of each pair is then taped to the backs of everyone in the room, and each person takes a turn trying to find their match.
They won’t be able to look but should ask yes and no questions to determine who is wearing their missing pair. This game encourages everyone to participate and hold conversations.
Making Team Building Exercises Fun
Employees often dread when managers pull them into team building exercises.
The thinking is that the games can be dull, and they are pointless. This is even truer of an introvert who naturally would not normally engage openly in games and activities, especially where the spotlight is on them.
However, there are ways to engage the introvert within any company.
They are not social recluses, as myths suggest, but are open and engaging as much as everyone else does when it’s to their liking. The key to getting an introvert to open up is to cater to their interests and find creative ways to get them involved without pulling them too far out of their comfort zones.