How to thank introverted staff this festive season

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What is an Introvert? According to 

A person who is energized by spending time alone. Often found in their homes, libraries, quiet parks or other secluded places, introverts like to think and be alone. Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy. Some may have great social lives and love talking to their friends but just need some time to be alone to "recharge" afterwards. 

Some of your team will be introverts and December can leave them feeling anxious and drained of energy. Why? It’s socialising season! The invitations start rolling in for lunches, drinks, BBQ’s and parties and whilst many people love the group festivities, an introverted  employee who receives an invitation to socialise, may wish you hadn’t bothered.

If you’re an introvert, you will understand the mixed emotions that bubble up when invited to socialise. It’s wonderful to be thanked for your work and be rewarded for your efforts but the idea of a social event makes you tired just thinking about it. You want to say no but you fear you will offend or be considered as rude. A work event on it's own may be fine, but in December, you have invitations coming from friends and family too. Christmas lunch on it's own can be enough to send a dedicated introvert under the table while extroverted Uncle Barry dances on it.

Here are my 5 ideas to help you engage and thank your introverted staff this year.

1. Build a personal profile. Consider each employee's personal likes/dislikes i.e sports club or individual sports people they follow, books they like to read, artists or music they enjoy, events they attend, charities they support or games they love to play. (This information will also help you to determine if they are an introvert or extrovert.) Aim to find out 1 piece of information a month and by the end of the year you should be able to provide them a gift they will really appreciate. Start now for next year.

2. Give rather than receive. Could you and your team volunteer or donate funds to a charity instead of paying for a staff function? This type of “gift” could mean so much more than free food and drinks. Invite staff for input to select who, what, when, where, why and how they support.

3. Make it optional. Help an introvert feel comfortable saying no, by offering a social activity with an optional non-social activity. “Would you prefer to attend a social gathering at the end of the year or receive a movie voucher/book/gift voucher or time off to volunteer?” Introverts may be happy to get together but show more interest in a quieter location that allows them to talk without yelling and sit in smaller groups.

4. Include Name Tags. Part of the difficulty an introvert experiences in social situations is small talk, particularly with co-workers they don't know very well. If you have a large team or combine with other departments, provide name tags. Pop a number on the name tags too. The number can represent that person's years or service, number of pets, number of children or simply their favourite number. Guessing or asking what the number represents helps start conversations.

5. Ask for suggestions. Survey your staff to find out what they really want to receive as a reward or thank you for their work or to celebrate a successful year. You may be surprised at the responses and the information makes choosing a breeze; you know what is guaranteed to delight.

Whatever you chose, remember that like your customers, your staff want to feel valued and appreciated. We do this best by listening, asking questions and remembering; excellence is many small things done well and it is not a one size fits everyone process. 

The team at Lightbulb Training Solutions wish you all a very safe and happy festive season.

By Cate Schreck - Director of LTS and Author of "The A-Z of Service Excellence".