Help shy people do their very best

Don’t force shy employees out of their shell. Follow these tips instead:

Don’t make assumptions. Employees who avoid social gatherings or chitchat aren’t necessarily “stuck up” or unhappy. Some people are uncomfortable in those situations or it takes them time to warm up to people.

See value in their silence. Shy people are more likely to think things through before they act. When it comes to decision-making, problem-solving and responding to a conflict or crisis, you want someone like that.

Conduct one-on-one sessions. They should attend team meetings, but also meet with them individually. During friendly, personal one-on-ones, shy employees are often comfortable enough to share feedback and ideas.

Provide space—and support. Grant them autonomy; however, do let them know you’re always available.

Let them do their thing. Be OK with them holing up in their office or let them work from home occasionally. Again, while they should be a team player when the job requires it, offering them some solitary time can ease their anxiety and maximize their productivity.

— Adapted from “What Leaders Need to Know About Managing Shy and Introverted Employees,” Sammi Caramela, Business News Daily,