Looking ahead to the future, it’s impossible to say what tomorrow’s workplace will bring—transformations caused by new trends, technology, or other forms of corporate culture. As an introvert, your ability to navigate your career moving forward will depend on your willingness to adapt to change and take risks.
Adapt to change
You can’t fight off the future, so accept the rapid pace of change in today’s work world. Layoffs happen, unexpected firings occur, and organizations modify and morph. Your job description will change like a chameleon, and managers will come and go. The good news is that your introversion can actually be a boost to your success. If you follow these seven keys to survival, your career can outlast the speed of change.
Bring innovative approaches and new ideas to the workplace
Introverts can use their reflective energy to come up with solutions to problems as well as innovative ideas. Use your powerful ability to dig deep into topics by focusing on current or future trends in your field. Read professional journals and publications, attend conferences and panel discussions, and read books that offer progressive theories and fresh ideas.
Ask yourself these questions to generate novel approaches that could change the landscape of your work:
- What knowledge do I possess that others might not?
- What unique or unusual insights do I have?
- Where does my imagination take me?
Take calculated risks
Try something that may seem intimidating, and if your current work situation is causing conflict, try a new approach or adjust your strategy. As an introvert, you might be intimidated to confront conflict or speak up in a group. Avoid getting stuck in a rut because the usual approach is familiar and comfortable. And if there’s no way out of an untenable work situation, consider looking for a new job.
Think globally to keep on top of a changing world
Identify key trends of globalization and note how these impact market and career opportunities. The following global trends are causing shifts in the workplace today:
- The corporate world is shrinking.
- Work is increasingly project-based.
- Competition is high.
- Conceptual skills are more in demand.
- Many jobs are created because of unmet needs.
Be self-directed with your career
Introverts tend to loathe self-promotion and may ignore how important this skill is to career success. Don’t expect anyone to see the future and give you a magical vision of your career yet to come. Along the bumpy ride of company mergers and reorganization, always be your best advocate and never expect that your employer will act as a benevolent uncle on your behalf. Speak up, market your accomplishments and take control of your career.
Stay savvy about your organization
Come out from behind your desk and keep abreast of what’s going on throughout the organization. Use your keen introvert qualities to listen and watch carefully to understand the corporate culture and behavioral norms, such as how the company is thriving, where it’s faltering, and who is on their way up or out. Then find the best way to fit yourself into the company culture without compromising who you are.
Keep on top of technology
Don’t turn into an old dog that can’t learn new tricks. Remain flexible and computer sharp because if you are not technically agile, you are in danger of becoming irrelevant and dispensable. Don’t fear technology but embrace it as an ally.
Be very good at what you do
Don’t allow your quiet and reserved nature to prevent management and colleagues from understanding that you are a key contributor who performs at a highly productive level. Building relationships and communicating effectively both orally and in writing is important to your success. Demonstrate your ability to master major tasks and responsibilities with finesse and confidence.
Surviving the speed of workplace acceleration requires self-care. Introverts can’t be “on” 100% of the time—you need time to restore your energy before jumping back into the stress of everyday life and work. Take moments during evenings and weekends to “recharge” and “unplug” from work and technology to ensure a healthy work-life balance and quality of life.
Jane Finkle is a career coach, speaker, and author with over 25 years of experience helping clients with career assessment and workplace adjustment. Finkle served as associate director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania, where she created and led the Wharton Career Discovery seminar and served as liaison to recruiters from major corporations. She has been published in the Huffington Post, Adirondack Life, Talent Development and mindbodygreen. Her newest book is The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide.