How to survive in HR when you’re an introvert

The most important thing for HR professionals to understand is how they can create balance in their day

How to survive in HR when you’re an introvert

The big issue for an introverted HR person is having to constantly engage with people day in, day out – which can be a major drain on energy, according to people management specialist Karen Gately.

“The most important thing to understand is how you can create balance in your day and in the nature of the job you are able to manage your energy levels,” Gately told HRD.

“So for most introverts it’s critical to have focus times to work through priorities. Introverts don’t enjoy unanticipated interruptions, for example, to the same extent that extroverts do.”

Gately said that extroverted HR people often like to get out there and seek lots of different situations, they like to juggle and they like to multitask.

“Whereas introverts are more likely to enjoy a structured focus approach to their day, so it’s critically important that you are able to create that time and space to work in the ways that actually suit you and energise you,” said Gately.

“So we can find ourselves hidden away, taking an introverted approach and therefore not necessarily looking up, observing what’s going on, reading the vibe of the place, and getting out amongst it to be able to influence whatever outcomes we need to."

Gately said there are HR professionals who have come up through perhaps the policy, the government or the risk management side of HR that are more likely to be introverted and they are more likely to be analytical in what drives them.

“But there is another side of HR where people are really drawn to it because they are nurturing or they want to influence people or, dare I say, control people,” said Gately.

“It is all about engaging with others and those people are typically extroverted.”

As far as managing energy levels is concerned, Gately said this is a particularly revelent for HR professionals whether they are introverted or extroverted.

“Sometimes we are doing things like making people redundant or terminating their employment, and even though that’s a fair decision it can still be very taxing and draining,” she said.

“We can invest a lot of emotional energy getting caught up in other people’s problems, concerns and challenges. That can obviously undermine our health, strength and spirit over time.

"Sometimes getting on top of busyness is as much about choosing what not to do as it is about what to do.”

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