A LinkedIn study found that millennials will change jobs an average of four times in their first decade out of college, Gen Xers on the other hand, only change twice.
There are plenty of reasons why millennials do this, and though it can be discombobulating to start over in a new setting, it can also help to teach you plenty about the work environments you perform best in. To first understand your ideal work environment, you need to get to know your personality type. Understanding whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert can help you start to understand your strengths, weakness, and how to best guide your managers, (or the people you’re managing) on how to work with you for optimum efficiency and to bring out your natural strengths.
Psychologist Carl Jung was the first person to define introversion and extroversion as personality types. His early theory put people firmly in one of the two camps, but today, personality is understood to be much more fluid, many of us falling somewhere in between or sliding back and forth along the scale throughout our lifetimes. Below are some of the strengths introverts and extroverts have and how that translates to the best working environment for each.
Strengths: Introverts are highly insightful of their own performances and empathetic towards their peers. They’re very self-motivated – they spend a lot of time reflecting on their performance. They usually know what steps need to be taken to improve without having to be told by a manager.
Weaknesses: They can be easily stressed and anxious. An introvert might find it very stressful to be called upon on the spot to share an idea with the broader team or their boss.
Best Suited Work Environment: Introverts excel when they are given ample time to dive deep into their thoughts. Because much of their best work requires deep thinking, they can find it frustrating to be constantly interrupted or pulled out of their concentration. An open concept office might be a difficult work space. If you identify as an introvert and are having trouble focusing, try speaking with your boss about a work around. If remote work isn’t an option, work out a signal with your team to let them know you’re in “do not disturb” mode.
Strengths Unlike introverts, extroverted people gain energy from being around others and are natural networkers, jumping at the opportunity to chat at the office happy hour. They thrive in social situations and are less averse to taking risks, which could be beneficial for their career in the long run. Until recently, many articles that touched on the topic claimed that the current working world is better suited for extroverts, because the qualities they possess, (sociability, risk taking, etc.) would help propel those people farther, faster. Popular opinion is changing thanks to works such as Susan Cain’s The Quiet Revolution which draws attention to unique qualities of introverts and how they are valuable in their own right.
Weaknesses: Extroverts can be impulsive, and might put projects into action before fully thinking through all the details. They can instinctively jump to offer their solution without fully taking into account valuable viewpoints from their teammates.
Best Suited Work Environment: Unlike introverts, extroverts gain their energy from being around others, a lively office environment with ample team work will help an extrovert thrive. Too much solitary work might bore someone who falls towards the extroverted scale.
Personality is fluid, no one is an extroverted or introverted 100% of the time, many of us fall somewhere near the middle of the scale. An often forgotten third personality type falls right in the middle of introversion and extroversion, sharing qualities of both – about 68% of the population is this personality type, called the ambivert.
Strengths: Ambiverts are energized by deep, introspective conversations with peers and but can still find energy from working in large groups. Because they are good listeners, ambiverts can also be tuned into social cues and very influential over their peers, by knowing how to appeal to them in order to get their point across.
Weaknesses: Because they can feel comfortable in a wide range of social situations, it might be hard for an ambivert to know when they need to re-energize. They’ll understand they’re burning out without knowing how to solve the problem.
Best Suited Work Environment: Though extroverts might seem to naturally be the best at sales, research has shown that ambiverts make the best salespeople out of the three personality types because of their constant ability to switch back and forth between talking and listening. They will enjoy work scenarios where they can focus on a task for long, uninterrupted periods but will also welcome group brainstorming sessions.
To test Jung’s theory in the real world, a woman named Isabel Briggs Myers, and her mother, Katharine Briggs created a personality test called the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which also explores other lifestyle preferences to determine a complete picture of how you interact with the world. If you’ve never taken a Myers Briggs test before, try it out for free here. More interesting than the results are our own reactions to to them and whether we agree or not. You know yourself and your preferences best. But it can sometimes take an objective stimulus like a multiple choice quiz to tell you what you’re not to start to recognizing important qualities in yourself and your preferred work style.