A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

The Risk to Blossom

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  Anais Nin

 

I am working with my daughter, Carolyn, tonight.  While I’m sure she’d rather work with another, perhaps “cooler” teammate, she’s stuck with her mom!

 

I am blessed to work with Carolyn; she makes a great teammate.  She is vigilant when it comes to cleaning, so that’s always a benefit. She is a born task master who can be counted on to rotate the perishable stock, care for the yogurt and remember and do all of the little things that must be done in order and on time.

 

She does all of these things without the need to think as it comes naturally to her. I and the shoppe are merely beneficiaries of these admirable skills.

However, what I see her “trying to do” is what inspired this post.

 

Carolyn is a solid introvert, she’s bashful and she’s young.

This isn’t exactly the ideal candidate for a busy little FroYo shoppe in which I expect my staff to be independent, responsible, welcoming, engaging, helpful, and otherwise playful with all of our guests.

 

Introversion

Introverts are sometimes seen as introspective, quiet and less sociable. Introverts aren’t necessarily shy nor do they always have discomfort in groups or social gatherings.  Rather, they prefer to be by themselves so they can think and reflect internally.   They often may avoid social situations because social activities drain them of energy.

 

Introversion is not something Carolyn needs to “change” – it’s part of who she is.  What I like is that she is learning to accommodate it.  For instance, when the shoppe is bustling, she asks her teammate to take over the register and retreats to the kitchen to prep more fresh fruit or she heads to the “magic room” and replenishes the FroYo machines with the uber-scrumptiousness that is SoYo Frozen Yogurt!

 

I wonder how many Introverts are struggling in their jobs?  Perhaps they don’t know how or don’t believe they can make accommodations for themselves in the workplace?  Can you imagine an Introvert working in a busy “cubby” environment?  Tons of foot traffic, lots of banter exchanged, questions/ideas/etc. being shared all day, etc.  This could quickly drain the energy out of an Introvert and have negative consequences on his/her engagement, productivity, quality, etc.

 

Bashfulness

Carolyn’s shy nature, self-consciousness and her discomfort with people looking at her nearly caused her to forego the opportunity to work at SoYo. Not wanting to enable this timid behavior, I have tried to boost her confidence and give her safe places to “be on the stage” just as I would with any client needing to overcome bashfulness.  I love watching Carolyn practice this at SoYo!  From time to time, I catch her taking a deep breath before approaching guests and I often see her force her eyes up to meet their gaze…but she is steadily overcoming the discomfort!

 

Bashfulness affects the workplace in numerous ways.  Bashful employees are sometimes publicly recognized for a job well done.  In some cases, this ensures they will lower their work results so the embarrassment never happens again.  Subject Matter Experts are sometimes expected to present training or facilitate learning sessions. This scenario can correlate to stress and anxiety for those who are comfortable with their expertise, but bashful or modest about it being displayed openly.  I think we need to appreciate an employee’s modesty, self-conscious nature or shyness when considering things like development, engagement, recognition, promotion, etc.  We should take it slow and perhaps encourage or otherwise “stretch” these employees out of their comfort zone.

 

Youth

Carolyn is 14 years old.  Part of me will always see her as a child and thankfully, she still sees the world with the innocence of one.  When I’m working with Carolyn, I get to enjoy her youth and am reminded of the sparks in me that reflect my own.

 

I know America’s workforce is struggling with the generation gaps.  They are staggering in some cases, spanning over 50 years.  We hear so much about the “problems” this creates and I won’t disagree that the differences make things difficult.

However, when I sit and watch Carolyn at work, I realize that it’s oftentimes ME who makes the age difference an issue.  I find I “blame” things on her age group or I form a strong opinion more quickly than I should.

 

I think we should capitalize on the youth in our workforce, and I’m not just talking about the technology, although there is more to come on that later!

There is a metric TON we can learn from observing and engaging with the younger generations.  If we just open our minds, rid our collective selves of our selfish and often prideful attitudes, we will find these young employees want to learn, they want to grow, they want to think, they want to succeed, and they want to be liked.

Furthermore, I have found these young adults are willing to admit their mistakes, forgive ours and enjoy engaging with nearly everyone.

And let’s not forget they have the energy, the drive and the spirit that many haven’t had since white leisure suits and disco balls were in fashion.

 

Introversion, Bashfulness and Youth.  I’m sure you’re working with someone that fits at least one of these characteristics.

 

What are you doing to make sure they can be all they dream to be?

 

 

 

AppreciationChangeEmployee RelationsHuman ResourcesLeadershipValue

Heather Kinzie • April 15, 2012


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