This week we’re sharing an interview I conducted with Marci Gohmann, Senior Director of Talent and Development at Thomson Reuters. Marci spearheaded a program that Quiet Revolution brought to Thomson Reuters, and she’s been instrumental in continuing the Quiet mission at the company.
Here’s what she has to say about her experience!
Susan: What made you decide to work on the Quiet Revolution in the first place?
Marci: When we saw you speak at Grace Hopper, we learned more about your mission to “harness the talents of introverts on behalf of us all”.
Hearing you talk about introverts really resonated with us. In tech, we have a large percent of introverts. We started talking about the challenges that introverts may face in our organization, and wanted to learn more about what we can do to get the best out of all our people.
Susan: It sounds as if you’ve been doing some really innovative work in bringing Quiet principles into your workplace, including developing your own “Quiet at TR” website. Can you tell us more?
1. We created a new group on our internal website called [email protected] This is a place for people to learn more about temperament. To draw people to this site, we created an online badge that people can earn by going through several steps which help them learn more about their own temperament and how to work with others of a different temperament. We also had people take a temperament assessment and “declare themselves” by sharing their temperament and what they need to be at their best. Within the first week of our launch, we had over 500 people declare themselves!
2. We’ve done several in-person and virtual sessions about temperament. These events provide a great opportunity for people to learn more about themselves and others and to help the energy around temperament inclusion continue to grow. These sessions have led to more interest and the opportunity to work with more intact teams.
3. We have a temperament workshop that we facilitate with intact teams. This is what I find the most powerful. Before the workshop, the attendees take a temperament assessment. During the workshop, we show everyone’s temperament assessment results. We then talk about what this means for their team. What challenges might we face? What surprises do we see? This workshop is not intended to be the end of the discussion, but it helps teams to be more open about what they need. For example, if an introvert is in an open environment and needs to go to a quiet space for a while, they can more easily share this with their coworkers and there is now understanding and acceptance.
Susan: You personally have been quite a “Quiet ambassador” within Thomson Reuters. Can you tell us more about that role, and what inspired you to take it on?
Marci: I spent 25 years in technology, where many of my team members were introverts. As an ambivert, I often felt more extroverted compared to my teams. I tried various tactics to bring out the best in my team members and create a collaborative environment where everyone was comfortable participating in their own way.
Two years ago, I moved into a talent and development role. When I moved to this role, the difference in temperament from technology to HR was obvious. I often felt like I had to interrupt people to be heard. Coming from my introverted teams, I was not used to this at all.
As I considered these differences, I began to wonder whether I’d done enough to make sure there was enough quiet space for our more introverted team members to speak up and be heard. I wondered whether we were really creating an environment where introverts could thrive. It became my mission to create more awareness around temperament and creating a temperament inclusive culture.
Susan: What do you think is most important for companies to understand about their introverted employees?
Marci: Some companies may not be getting the best out of their introverted employees. Our workspaces have become more open with constant collaboration. This can be a challenging environment for an introvert. When we are considering whether we have an environment where our introverts can thrive, we have some questions to ask. We’re not likely to change the layout of our workspaces, but are we doing enough to provide opportunities for our team members to recharge in their own way? Are there enough quiet spaces? Do we know what our introverts need to recharge? Is there enough time to get into flow in our work, or are there constant interruptions? For the quieter team members, do we know how they prefer to participate? Do they want to be called out? Are we leaving space for everyone to speak?
At Thomson Reuters, we spend a significant amount of time in meetings. I don’t think this is unusual for organizations. My biggest takeaway from Quiet training was related to effective meetings and having agendas. I never thought about how critical an agenda is for our more introverted team members. By having an agenda, an introvert will feel more prepared and will be more likely to speak up during a meeting. Making sure every meeting has an agenda (and the agenda is followed) is so simple and will create more inclusive meetings.
Susan: You mentioned that one of the people who’d been through a Quiet Revolution workshop started running a Quiet book club at Thomson Reuters. Can you tell us how she did it, and what kinds of topics came up?
Marci: One of our Quiet Ambassadors, Melissa Mignano, did a fantastic job with the Quiet book clubs. They had 6 monthly sessions and covered 1-4 chapters per month. The agenda for each session included an icebreaker to continue to get to know each other, a question or statement that was used for quiet reflection, discussion on the assigned chapters and a topic area to learn more about temperament inclusion. These topics included myths about temperament, inclusive meetings, mixed-temperament communication and other temperament related topics. The clear agenda for each session led to balanced participation across all participants.
Marci: I have a few questions for you as well. You’ve made a significant impact on companies and individuals through your work and your book. Did you have any idea that you would be sparking a Quiet Revolution? Why do you think people are so fascinated by the topic of temperament?
Susan: Introversion and extroversion are the most fundamental of all our personality traits. These traits govern the way people work, interact, live, and love. And yet until now it’s been socially unacceptable to talk about it. Now that people have permission to work through these differences, they don’t want to stop!
Marci: As you have studied the topic of temperament, what has been your most interesting or surprising discovery?
Susan: There’s lots of fascinating research out there suggesting that introverted leaders deliver great outcomes, surpassing most people’s expectations and in some cases outperforming extroverted leaders (though extroverted leaders tend to get paid more).
Marci: What’s next for you?
Susan: I’ll be working on Quiet issues all my life. But I’m also writing my next book right now – on a completely different topic! Please stay tuned on that.
Marci: I really appreciate your mission and passion for harnessing the talents of introverts. When I started learning about temperament and Quiet, I knew this was an important topic. I had no idea the impact I would see when working with teams. I love to see people talking openly about what they need to be at their best and their team members really listening. I have seen a shift in the way many teams are interacting. We are on our way to a temperament inclusive culture at Thomson Reuters.