Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I know of a CEO who often discussed the importance of succession planning with his executive staff, but never took the time to sit down and figure out exactly what that meant for his organization. He simply repeated himself over and over about how important it was to think about succession planning and that they needed to be identifying who would be moving up the ladder. However, when executives began to leave, nobody knew who would take their place. When replacements were announced...employees were usually extremely surprised by the selection. It appeared as if the individuals were selected out of thin air. Inevitably, employees accepted the fact that if you wanted to get promoted, you needed to become friends with the CEO and the executive staff. It was perceived that promotion had nothing to do with actual skills and abilities. This is not what you want in your organization. I repeat...organizations need to treat promotions as seriously as they treat selection.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A colleague of mine, Lisa Breytspraak, recently wrote a blog asking the question, “Are Introverts more or less stressed in the age of the internet?” She goes on to discuss how she got excited about being able to activate her international data plan with AT&T without ever having to call someone on the phone (she doesn’t like talking to strangers). She claims to be a borderline introvert who loves avoiding people she doesn’t already know, and prefers to interact via websites, email, text, etc.
I found this very fascinating. Truly. I'm an extrovert. Not borderline, at least not according to all of the personality tests I’ve taken throughout my lifetime (and I’ve taken a lot) and not according to anyone who knows me. But do they really know me? Do these tests really measure all aspects of introversion and extroversion? After all, I also love avoiding people I don’t know and prefer to interact via websites, email, text, etc.
I am starting to realize that I have "I" tendencies. I hate talking to customer service representatives and I don’t particularly like to make small talk with the cashiers or anyone else I have to encounter while running errands. I don’t like to go shopping at the mall because there are way too many people walking around. I try to avoid eye contact with people when I’m walking (anywhere). Sales associates bug the hell out of me always trying to talk to me. I don't answer my phone unless I know who it is, and a lot of times I don’t even LOOK to see who it is, I just don’t feel like talking on the phone so I just don't answer it. I’ve always had these tendencies, I just never realized that other extroverts didn’t. That is, until I met someone who is the epitome of an extrovert. This individual absolutely cannot stand to be alone. She must have dinner plans with someone every single night and she is constantly on her cell phone. Not surprisingly, she was one of the first people to purchase one of those Motorola flip phones when they first hit the market in the mid-90s. I thoroughly enjoy spending time alone at home. Not just for one evening but for days straight without contact from anyone.
Does that sound like an extrovert to you? Probably not. But I test extrovert. I love people, I love to go out with friends, I make conversation easily, I do not stress out about speaking in public, I love parties (big parties and small parties), and I actually do like to meet new people. I have forged lasting friendships with people I’ve met at a bar! These are all things that we psychologists use to measure whether or not someone is an introvert or an extrovert. So am I truly an extrovert?
What aren’t they asking in these personality questionnaires? I can think of a few things:
- They don't ask me about my shopping preference (mall or internet).
- They don’t ask me about my preferred method of customer service (would you prefer to speak to an actual person on the phone, send an email, or use LiveChat online, my personal favorite).
- They don’t ask me my preferred method of leaving a social gathering!! I absolutely hate the long good bye. That’s when you go around the entire room and say good bye to every single person, hug them, make additional small talk, get stuck talking to someone a bit longer than you anticipated but you continue to talk, then you move on to the next person, and the next thing you know it’s 30 minutes later. Why can't I just look around the room and say Bye everyone! I understand it’s polite to say good bye to the host, but other than that I feel it’s best to make as quick an exit as possible. When I’m ready to leave, I’m ready to leave!
- They don’t ask me my preferred method of communication with friends, co-workers, etc. (email, text, phone). Hands down I would say email and text. Here’s one example. I recently tried to reconnect with an old co-worker of mine and I sent him an email. He responded saying that he does not really use email, and gave me his cell phone number for me to call him so that we can try to get together. That was 4 weeks ago and I still haven’t called.
Is it just me or do any other extroverts feel this way too? I recently completed the long version of the MBTI (a well known personality test) which breaks down the personality dimensions into sub-dimensions. It will be interesting to see what the long form results show. What it won’t show, is my responses to the questions above. But maybe these questions have nothing to do introversion and extroversion. Maybe it’s the addiction to efficiency that is confusing the matter? Let’s evaluate:
- Internet shopping = efficient (no wasted time driving to the mall walking around from store to store)
- LiveChat customer service = efficient (you can work on other things while they are typing their responses back to you)
- Short Good Byes = efficient (no need for an explanation here)
- Email and Text = efficient (no additional chit chat, just straight to the point)
The age of the internet helps us avoid people when we want to, whether introvert or extrovert. For my colleague (an MBTI introvert) and for myself (an MBTI extrovert) we see this as a good thing. However, is it a good thing? Maybe the question should be, “Has the age of the internet sacrificed human interaction for the sake of efficiency?”