March 15 – AM put an article on introversion in a national newspaper on my desk this morning. It has relevance to the discussion we’re having on developing people.
It confirms one of my long held beliefs, which is that the almost perpetual demand that people be ‘good team players’ can eliminate candidates from consideration for many jobs where, candidly, being a team player is not necessary and can actually be counterproductive. I’m so pleased that bugbear of mine has been, very slightly, recognised.
Take our company as an example. Our manufacturing team requires people with two, distinctive skill sets. Making things requires coordinated discipline and willingness to do set tasks in the set down order. It’s, in my view, an extrovert’s job. They’re seeking the team’s approval for doing the right thing at the right time (near enough) to get their satisfaction from their work.
The other part of this ‘team’ are the refurb mob. There I want no such skills. I want people who can look at a problem, accurately assess it, work out what needs doing and no more, and then deliver it at minimum cost. Usually they do the whole thing from beginning to end as a result, and only pass it over for QC testing at the end of the process to make sure it’s fit to be reissued into stock. We demand the same skills from many of our people out on the road. This is introvert work. These are people happy to work on their own, think their way through an issue and not always get anything much in reward beyond the quiet satisfaction of knowing they got it right without much of a song and dance being made about it.
I like the introverts. They’re creative. So long as they understand what I want they get on and deliver it without causing much fuss. And they, most importantly, add a lot of value.
I don’t say there’s no reason for teamwork, because there is. But the idea that the whole world should be made up of team players is wrong, I think. Three cheers for introverts I say. If you want a difficult job done make sure you’ve got some outside your team but in your company.