As more and more data is revealed about the impact of Covid-19 on the workplace there is a recognition developing of how the Romanian business industry successfully navigated it’s way through these difficult and unpredictable times and, in fact, excelled in many areas versus other countries across Europe.
By Colin Lovering, Founder – Lovering & Partners & Senior Business Advisor – COS
But why was that? Is it about the skills, optimism, Latin spirit, determination or is it something much deeper than that?
As a business advisor and performance coach with COS (Corporate Office Solutions) for many years, I have witnessed the ever-changing demands and assumptions of customers looking for that ideal workplace that looks great yet also motivates and inspires people working in it.
Enter the introverts
The research over the years has also revealed a much higher percentage of ‘introverts’ within the Romanian population compared with most of it’s European cousins. This revealing fact made me want to dig deeper into the secrets of Romania’s achievements through the last 2 years and I spoke to many, many introverts and extroverts to discover any correlations.
The conclusions are that introverts were the shining light during the pandemic period and a study by Richard Etienne, a branding and personality expert, revealed: “In the uncertain days at the outset of the pandemic, the needs of companies and their clients experienced a shift, and workers who could meet them stood out. While extroverts are celebrated for being outgoing, action-oriented and enthusiastic, introverts bring analytical thought and empathy, during the pandemic, those skills immediately became incredibly sought after. Introverts are reliable; people who take one project at a time and do it thoroughly. They’re good at deep thought and forming personal connection. That was really important during the period when companies were trying to hold onto clients”
In a recent Bloomberg interview, Patty McCord, head of HR at Netflix, said it was clear managers were newly aware of the skills of employees who didn’t command attention before. She referenced a senior executive at a Fortune 100 company who had a “matrix of skills” she once used to identify a great salesperson: “able to control a room, a lot of energy and charisma, confident, blah, blah, blah. And it completely flipped during the pandemic,” said McCord. Suddenly, that company’s best employees were “the quiet ones who would just get on a call with a client and listen”.
As organizations throughout Romania are looking to the talented COS team of workplace consultants to ‘encourage’ their people back to the office albeit within the new hybrid work style. The emphasis has shifted to privacy, informality, intimacy, and an environment closer to home in look and feel. Maybe it’s because the open-space phenomenon introduced a few years ago was actually created for extroverts by extroverts?, only time will tell.
The perfect blend
I guess at this stage I should offer a comforting word or two for the extroverts out there. Yes, you still have an enormous value to driving ideas forward, persuasion and influence within Romania’s continued growth but we cannot any longer ignore the power of that quiet man or woman in the corner or working from home whose ability to be constantly productive and calm throughout every day completes the ideal and newly realized company profile.
“Making a ‘contribution’ to the business is not about talking a lot anymore, it’s about doing. Empathy and a propensity toward more thoughtful communication made introverts shine”, wrote Beth Buelow, a career coach and author of The Introvert Entrepreneur. “That tendency to put others in the spotlight, to hold up the team and be that silent partner, is a strength,” she says. “That is part of what managers and leaders witnessed coming through. They needed the empathetic listener. The person who was willing to step back and be like, ‘I hope you’re doing OK; how can we help?’
So, as we move, hopefully, out of this period, and whatever that percentage of introverts are in Romania, it is certainly a time to shine and to re-calibrate the way we do business, seek talent, create teams and bring out that resource that was sometimes sitting quietly in the shadows of a vibrant office.