Welcome to the
Origins and aims of the network (Tara)
What is an introvert? (Ben)
What we’ve been doing
New building (Tim)
Interview practice (Jane)
How to work well with introverts (Ben)
Why do we have an introvert’s network?
How did it start?
20 May 2016
“Hello People Board
I’ve been thinking about how we could support introverts more.
. . . helping teams to make sure everyone is heard (without making
. . . Maybe an ‘introverts group’ would give people a chance to pair up
or network in a quiet environment.
. . . We could find out what does or doesn’t work well in people’s
teams and meetings.”
How to make GDS a
great place for introverts
Aims of the network
Make GDS a great working environment for introverts by:
making significant change in GDS
providing a supportive environment for introverts
showing that working in an introvert-friendly way
can be effective
What we’re doing - current priorities
Awareness and understanding of introversion
Better working spaces
Other plans and ideas
Better ways of working
More effective meetings and collaborating
Tips for teams; workshops for delivery managers
GDS culture - People Board
Mentoring, buddying and networking
Quiet lunchtime chats or social events
How can we support each other?
Why does this matter?
“This bias against introversion leads to
a colossal waste of talent, energy,
It is the next great diversity issue of
Susan Cain (author of Quiet)
To make government work better, the Cabinet Office
1. ensure the Civil Service gets the best people
and gets the best from its people
People who draw energy from
reflection and quiet
People who are at their most productive,
creative and alive when focusing on their
inner world of ideas, memories and emotions
Introverts are shy
Introverts don’t like to be around people
Introverts don’t like group work
Introverts can ‘break out of their shell’
and become extroverts
Introverts don’t make good leaders
Are you an
Prefer solitude and quiet
Recharge by spending time alone
Tend to have a few close relationships
Confident and outgoing
Get energy from social interaction
Find solitude dull
Have many friends, and can make new
Qualities of both the introvert and the
Comfortable with others, but also value
Equally at home in loud or quiet
What is the
Survey of GDS
More supportive environment
Quiet working spaces
Better ways of working
Line manager training on supporting
better ways of working
Problems introverts are experiencing at GDS
Difficulty concentrating 67%
Support extroverts would like in working with
Ways of working: identifying ways for
introverts to contribute in meetings, how
teams can improve collaboration
Better workspaces to allow for
“People who draw energy from
reflection and quiet…”
Before the move
Feedback on designs
Visited building before move to discuss with
Matt listened to concerns and pointed
out features which might help
Designated quiet spaces
Acoustic design of ceiling and lights
Asked us to move in, see how it goes,
then feed back
We moved in
The office filled up
And got louder and louder and louder
Complaints on Slack got louder and louder
People wandered through meetings
People kept asking where everything was
Estates provided a Google
Sheet for feedback
But we had been asked to
‘move in and see how it
So we invited members
and others to contribute to
some more formal
Open meeting rooms
“The open meeting ‘rooms’ (eg 608) suffer from noise from around them. And
also, presumably, the other way round. (+1 +1 +1+1 +1 +1 +1+1+1)”
“Some of the ‘project room’ spaces have two meeting room numbers (eg 604
and 605), so two simultaneous meetings side by side, which makes it even
more difficult to hear or contribute (+1+1 +1 +1 +1 +1+1).”
“The metal floors seem to add to the noise (+ 1 +1 +1 +1 +1+1 +1 +1 +1, +1,
+1) especially when people scrape chairs across them in the kitchen areas!”
“The metal floors make me feel like I can’t wear heeled shoes to work -
because it makes SO much noise when I walk around in them. (Even on days
when I have presentations and need to look smarter.) So I am always in flat
soled shoes. I didn’t feel self conscious about the sound of my footwear when
we worked in Aviation House, and I didn’t feel like I always had to wear my
No quiet spaces
“The 'Using our spaces' guidelines now say the lounge areas are "for relaxing
not formal meetings". Where's the line between formal and informal meetings?
And can we at least say no meetings there at lunchtimes (12-2pm), so people
can rest quietly and comfortably? Can we put up some ‘quiet’ signs? (+1 +1)”
All adds up to noise
“Noise carries from bank to bank of desks which means
that conversations from several banks away are a constant
disturbance which I find tiring. Standups are bad for the
people in the office and extremely bad for people dialling
We compiled this into a clear report
Submitted as part of ‘building retro’
We’ve been asked to send a representative to take part in
the decisions about how to spend the budget for improving
And anyone interested can attend the presentation on the
Tomorrow (Tuesday 26th 10-11am in atrium)
“Extroverts... prefer talking to
“Introverts... listen more than they
“Extroverts… rarely find
themselves at a loss for words…”
“Introverts… feel as if they
express themselves better in
writing than in conversation…”
What did we do?
How does it work?
How to work well
Respect and value the difference
Have empathy for the fact that GDS can be
an exhausting environment for introverts
Learn that quiet can be good
Respect the headphones
Make time for reflection
Manage the meeting
Structure the thinking
This is a image
List of 9 Excellent Ted Talks For Introverts by Katherine Mackenzie-
Monthly meeting: Tuesday 3 October
Google group: ‘GDS for introverts’
GDS wiki: ‘GDS Introverts Network’
We’d like your
Ben Daniels @drystonecoding
Hello, I’m Tara. I’m a performance analyst on GOV.UK, and I’m one of the Introverts Network leads, with Ben.
Here’s what’s coming up today...
For me, it started with an idea last year, in May.
Lots of things came together - I was inspired by a GOV.UK away day and the GDS coaching group, and the success of the Women’s Group and other diversity networks that were being set up.
I was on a leadership training course - Myers-Briggs - “there are no right or wrong personality types”. Aware of how my preferences affect my competencies.
Then in September last year we had a GDS unconference, where anyone could run a session. Ben suggested a workshop about introverts, which was really popular.
So that was our ‘Discovery’ phase - why it’s a problem, and what people wanted instead.
After that we grouped all the feedback and had a smaller workshop to agree our priorities, and then wrote some official objectives for the network.
These are our three main workstreams at the moment, and the workstream leads will be telling you about some of the things they’ve done.
The other main thing we’d like to improve is how we work at GDS.
If you’d like to get involved with any of these, talk to us afterwards or come to our next monthly meeting on 3 October.
(There’s also a Remote Working Group - see the GDS wiki.)
Single departmental plans describe the government's objectives for this Parliament.
Chris is a great champion - he chose us, and he really gets it.
(He’s the Director for National, International and Research.)
This slide format is for headings or section breaks
Shyness and Introversion are different things
Introverts just don’t like talking for the sake of it.
We have the same need for connection, it’s just that we also need and enjoy more solitude
We prefer to interact one to one or in small groups
Introverts prefer small groups to large
But Introverts do have a tendency to shut down in larger groups of people when they feel like their voice isn’t being heard
As one of my colleagues says “silence is not the same as consent”
Introversion is innate
Introverts are happiest and most effective when they use their innate strengths
Mohandas Gandhi, (Revolutionary)
Mother Teresa (Nun, Missionary)
Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft)
Warren Buffett (Investor and philanthropist)
Abraham Lincoln (US President, and Attorney)
Rosa Parks (unintentionally started a revolution
Albert Einstein (Physicist and Professor)
Steven Spielberg (Director)
Susan Cain (Author, Attorney)
Meryl Streep, Actress
Ben to run Interactive session
This should be what most of your slides look like
Feedback on early designs was by individual members because the network had not been formed
First formal contact as a network was when building nearing completion. I visited the building in June with Rob Rockstroh for a discussion with Matt Withers
I think second comment particularly interesting = an example of introverts feeling stressed and self conscious about their impact on others
In real life two of the solutions we had been offered don’t work: quiet areas and Think Tanks
And the small holes in the ceiling may or may not improve the sound, but it turns out they are visually noisy and upset some people
My name’s Jane. I’m the content lead on the Digital Marketplace.
I’m going to talk to you about some work Tara and I have been doing to help people practise their interview skills.
Lots of people struggle with interviews for different reasons - this isn’t just a problem for introverts
I find interviews really difficult
And for me some of my characteristics that mean that I identify as an introvert are the same characteristics that make me struggle with interviews
These quotes are from Susan Cain’s book Quiet
I’m cautious about implying that all introverts have the same characteristics
But I’ve picked these out because they resonate with me
I think these things summarise why I find interviews difficult
I wanted to do something to help make it easier for people at GDS who struggle with interviews - whatever the reason
When I joined the introverts network I found that other people had similar difficulties with interviews
Tara was also passionate about doing something to help people who find interviewing hard and who might not be progressing as quickly as they could be as a result
We decided to work on it together
So we decided to set up a practice network
We asked Arthi and Lynn in the People Team to help us to set up an interview practice network
So - how does it work?
There are instructions on the wiki
They’re under ‘Working at the White Chapel Building > How to > then ‘Practise your interview skills’
But basically it’s self-organising
There’s a list of practice questions you can use - which is linked to from the wiki
But I won’t show you those, in case any of you want to practise and want the questions to be a surprise...
So… go forth and practise
These are some simple things you can do today.
There isn’t a team at GDS that wouldn’t benefit from these skills
One of the commonest things people tell me is how draining GDS is as a place to work.
Don’t worry if someone is being quiet
Don’t ask “is something wrong”.
If they are an introvert they are doing their best work while they are quiet.
Perhaps headphones means someone needs some quiet to be effective
And working from home, disappearing into a think tank etc etc.
Send out an agenda in advance to give people time to think
Build breaks into long meetings
Two short meetings are better than one long meeting. It’s not failure to not do everything in the first meeting.
If it’s important enough to have a meeting, it’s important to have another one the next day when people have had a chance to think and have fresh ideas.
Introverts have longer neural pathways and process info in a different way
Start ideas generation by getting people to write post-its in silence for 2 minutes (I’ve trained my team to do this automatically)
Respectfully stop people who dominate the meeting
Respectfully ask quiet people if there “Is anything you would like to add”
Make some quiet and check in with everyone at the end of the discussion
Good for everyone and levels the playing field for introverts
Helps everyone contribute and leads to better decisions
This is how I lead introverts network and do my day job
Lots of easy to use tools
Plus/ Minus/ Interesting
Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
We’ve bought some books on Introversion
Working with introverts
Succeeding as an introvert
Check out Ted Talks on Introverts
Join us to be part of a supportive community of like minded people
To hear about talks and events including first informal chat with our SCS champion Chris Ferguson (early October)
For a chance to develop in a supportive, introvert friendly environment
And to contribute to the network -- we’ve got a lot more to do.
Come and have a chat, or stick a post-it on the wall!