Introvert HR

I’m not a huge fan of personality assessments.  Whether that harps back to my early days as a psychology student and lecturer, or an understandable fatigue through my career in HR, I don’t know.  It isn’t that I think that they’re entirely worthless, just that I think for those that are self-aware they add little new and for those that aren’t, there are multiple reasons to disregard any potential insight.

But I digress.  Earlier this week I received some feedback after completing the Dimensions Personality Assessment from Talent Q.  I won’t dwell on the actual tool, because for this post it is neither here nor there.  The fact is that in the large part it was information that I was pretty well aware of.  There was one aspect, however, that made me think more about myself and my career…and whilst it wasn’t new to me, it was highlighted in technicolour (which reluctantly I accept must show some value to the tool and the process!).

You see, I’m an introvert.  Not in the Myers Briggs sense – drawing my energy from within. But as the Dimensions profile terms it, “Socially Confident” or more precisely….socially “unconfident”.  Now it isn’t as bad as it seems….I don’t cry in the corner….in fact I have a strong sense of self belief, but my work based exhibitionist tendencies aren’t at the fore (does that make it sound more intellectual?).

And, what’s more,  I don’t think I’m alone in the profession.

So much of the work of HR is done in the shadows.  I’m sure that there are people out there reading this thinking, “How can a ‘people person’ not be……a people person” but it isn’t as simple as that.  People like me build relationships based on one to one individual contact, not on standing on stage.  We build trust because people know that we will keep our counsel and through that we develop influence.  We are quite happy to work with others and for them to take the credit, if we get the right result for the organisation.  We don’t need to be the centre of attention and we don’t think we should be the centre of attention.

Personally I’d rather been the oil in the cogs than the badge on the front of the motor.

The downside of course is sometimes that we can struggle to get our voices heard.  In a world where the loudest can be seen as the brightest and most relevant, the introverts amongst us need to develop the skills and the confidence throughout our careers to hold our own and demonstrate our capabilities.  As always there is the ying and the yang, the light and the dark, the good and the…..well ok maybe the analogy stops there…..nonetheless, hopefully you get the point?

And that point is that we shouldn’t be afraid to make our views heard (read my post on Unconscious Immunity) but at the same time we shouldn’t be afraid to make our voices heard in OUR way.  Diverse organisations are the best organisations.  We need the extroverts and the introverts, the talkers and the reflectors, the speakers and the listeners.

So if you’re like me and your preference isn’t to be the centre of attention, then be the wise counsel, be the trusted advisor, be the critical friend.  But don’t be afraid to be you and don’t be afraid to speak up. Your organisation needs you to do so.