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‘Extroverts do better at work’. Do they?

March 18, 2024

According to a study published by Harvard Business Review, regardless of the degree of commitment displayed during working hours, extroverted professionals are seen as more dedicated to their tasks than introverts. This perception, according to scholars of organizational behavior in the United States and Germany, can lead to unequal treatment in the workplace: managers tend to reward employees who are excited about the demands more, which would lead to greater chances of promotion for this group.

The research followed 1,862 professionals in the USA, including leaders and subordinates, and was conducted by Anabel Büchner, a doctoral student in the area of psychological assessment at Humboldt University in Berlin; and Kai Krautter and Jon M. Jacimowicz, respectively a doctoral student and assistant professor in the organizational behavior unit at the Harvard Business School.

“We found that supervisors’ perceptions of employee passion came with real, tangible consequences: Supervisors rewarded extroverts’ more-animated expressions of passion with higher estimations of their status, which is associated with preferential treatment, greater chances of promotions and raises, and other benefits,” they wrote.

Given the findings, the researchers believe that it is understandable that managers may misinterpret extroversion as a devotion to the job since the attitudes of communicative employees tend to be clearer than those of withdrawn ones. According to the authors, leaders can follow three strategies for more egalitarian management:

  1. Learn to understand

Leaders should encourage employees to share how they like to express their affection for their work – when necessary. Instead of assuming that everyone on the team needs to have a “twinkle in their eye”, take the time to observe the behaviors of each individual, they teach.

  1. Identify evidence of dedication

If an employee isn’t comfortable with overt displays of veneration for their work, perhaps they can prove their commitment in other ways, such as by presenting detailed reports or in one-to-one conversations.

  1. Target performance, not performers

After working with teams to identify how they convey engagement, it is up to the leader to reward the truly “passionate” – and not just those who adopt effusive behaviors. To do this, productivity criteria should be used to guide decisions about who receives new assignments, promotions, and bonuses.

Source: HBR