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How coronavirus makes better bosses



How coronavirus makes better bosses

Back in the pre-COVID-19 days, Mitchell Spearman didn’t talk much with his staff about their feelings.

As senior director of the main prize for the University of Texas at Austin, he helped set goals for the fundraising team, assisted them in meeting those goals and celebrated their success as they did.

He aims to support and encourage, but explore the personal lives of the staff? Ask about their support network? That is not part of the job description.

But when the country was suddenly shut down in an unimaginable week in March, Spearman, like many managers in large and small companies, found himself taking on a new role: advisor, support, health coach.

Goals and metrics temporarily leave the window. The mental and physical health of its staff is a priority.

Mitchell Spearman, senior director of prizes for the University of Texas at Austin. Because of coronavirus, he has taken on a new role: advisor, supporter, health coach.

(Molly Spearman)

When Spearman schedules a one-on-one meeting with each member of his team, he writes a list of things to talk about: Where do you live? How comfortable are you dating? Did you get food delivery? Do you feel safe?

He also invited each team member to share their biggest fears.

“That was an important moment,” he said.

One of his employees married an assistant manager at a grocery store, and the thought that he would work every day scared him.

Others worry that their partners, who work in the hotel industry, will lose their jobs.

One person is afraid of being sick and alone, another is worried about parents who live in another state.

At the same time Spearman shared his greatest fear: that he would be sick and unable to get a test for the virus.

It was the most vulnerable he had ever experienced with his staff.

“I want to tell them that I am on the same boat,” he said.

‘You can’t solve people’s problems, but you can listen, support and support them.’

Samuel Culbert, author of “Good People / Bad Managers”

As businesses wrestle with the economic downturn and disruptions caused by the new coronavirus, experts say the pandemic may have a silver lining: Help create a new generation of managers – those who talk less and listen more.

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“There is an element of this crisis that forces managers to be the type of manager they always want, who really cares about the welfare of their team, and really listens,” said David Rock, director of the Neuroleadership Institute and author of “Your Brain at Work.”

Asking employee welfare and understanding their unique challenges has always been part of a good management strategy, said Samuel Culbert, author of the book “Good People / Bad Managers” and a professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Before the pandemic, it might have been easier to ignore it.

Column One

A showcase for interesting storytelling
from the Los Angeles Times.

However, today, knowing who might have just lost a loved one, and who is chasing a toddler half a day, has become important information for every team leader.

“Most managers may intend to help their employees, but they don’t start with the most basic question: What do you need? What can I help you with?” Culbert said.

A manager may not be able to solve everyone’s problem, he adds, “but you can listen, give, support and support it.”

As the weeks passed and Spearman’s team settled on their new reality, he gradually shifted focus back to fundraising goals.

But the more intimate relationships he had built up in the early days of the pandemic remained.

“This has been a transformative experience for me,” he said. “We talk about productivity, but we also talk about canoeing and coffee with friends. I learned to manage the whole person, not just the players. “


“Nobody goes through this without injury.”

Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics

Studies show that the pressures associated with COVID-19 affect people in every rung of the company.

In a global survey of 2,700 people, the technology company Qualtrics found that the self-reported decline in mental health in the early days of the pandemic was likely to occur at all levels of seniority – from executives (40.5%) to individual contributors (44%).

“Nobody experienced this without injury,” said Ryan Smith, chief executive of Qualtrics.

Monitors may worry that asking about their employees’ mental health is inappropriate, or not their concern, but the data suggest otherwise.

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The Qualtrics Survey found that 57.7% of respondents said they felt comfortable with their managers proactively asking about their mental health, and 41% said they felt comfortable. want their manager to ask about that.

And when respondents were asked who they preferred to talk about mental health issues, 35.6% said coworkers or coworkers, 33.5% said managers or supervisors, and only 19.5% said someone from Human Resources.

“Traditionally, mental health has been a taboo topic – don’t ask, don’t say,” said Michael Thompson, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Health Services Buyers Coalition, a group of non-profit entrepreneurs. “But when you break the silence, employees love it. They think of you as an employer. “

At the same time, many managers experience their own fears and challenges, and experts say it is important for them to monitor their mental health as well.

“You have to get your own stress level low enough so you can focus on other people,” Culbert said.

He recommends a buddy system where managers examine each other and share challenges and stress.

Smith did this. Before the pandemic, he made weekly calls with 12 other technology CEOs, but after COVID-19 reversed everything, the conversation produced a new tone.

“That turned into a therapy group,” he said.


Felicia Jadczak expects 2020 to be a year of growth for She + Geeks Out, a Boston company he co-founded that helps the company create a more inclusive workforce and run networking events in adjacent technologies.

She + Geeks co-founder Out Felicia Jadczak, left, Jason Serino, Chris Haigh and Cristina Hancock on panel in Boston.

Felicia Jadczak, left, Jason Serino, Chris Haigh and Cristina Hancock on the panel in Boston. Jadczak’s anxiety grew when the client’s meeting was canceled, the contract disappeared and the sponsor began to withdraw from the She + Geeks Out event.

(How to Brostrom)

When the country was locked, Jadczak’s anxiety grew when client meetings were canceled, contracts disappeared and sponsors began to withdraw from the She + Geeks Out event.

At the same time, he and his co-CEO, Rachel Murray, had to turn their small staff into working from home, which meant making sure everyone had a functioning internet connection and a suitable space for work.

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But the biggest hurdle is emotional, Jadczak said, “just understanding what everyone is going through – not just the team but me and my business partners too.”

Some employees have small children at home, others support older family members.

“Every meeting starts, how are you? Is your family safe? Are you alright? And really listens, “said Jadczak.

The two women said they did not mind taking on this additional responsibility, but they needed emotional energy.

As Jadczak said, “This is a lot of elevators.”

After news of the police assassination of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor began to circulate, Jadczak and Murray added weekly meetings to the team’s agenda which they called “hang” – as in hang out.

“We found that our team needed time to gather and process and chat as if we were in an office, around a coffee machine,” he said.

They also experimented with giving everyone, including themselves, four working days each week.

Felicia Jadczak speaks at the 2019 summit in Boston.

Felicia Jadczak spoke at the summit in Boston. The biggest hurdle with his staff was emotional, he said, “just understanding what everyone experiences – not only the team but me and my business partners too.”

(How to Brostrom)

Even when demand for their training services had skyrocketed after national calculations of racism triggered by the murder of George Floyd, Jadczak and Murray planned to continue with a four-day workday.

“We don’t want anyone to be exhausted,” Jadczak said.

Tracy Keogh, head of human resources at HP Inc., which has 55,000 employees worldwide, said her team had also worked to alleviate fatigue by urging employees to change Zoom 30 minutes to 25 minutes, and one hour to 55 minutes. This may not seem like much, but a small break makes a difference.

Here in Los Angeles, Merrick Lackner, co-founder of Rently, a company that helps tenants see homes and apartments without registration agents, said the coronavirus has helped him get to know 50 of his employees in a completely new way.

Merrick Lackner is a co-founder of Rently, a company that helps tenants see homes and apartments without listing agents.

Merrick Lackner, co-founder of Rently, a company that helps tenants see homes and apartments without a recording agency, said the coronavirus has helped him get to know 50 of his employees in a completely new way.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

“Ironically, it’s easier to make surface level assumptions about people when you see them every day,” he said. “But with everyone separated, we have had deeper, more honest conversations.”

Since the pandemic began, Lackner has made more efforts to reach beyond his direct reports to find out how other staff are doing, and hear what they think should happen at the company.

Merrick Lackner from the Los Angeles Rently company.

Since the pandemic began, Merrick Lackner from Rently has made more efforts to reach beyond his direct reports to find out how other staff are doing.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

“To be honest, I should have done it all this time,” he said.

As for Spearman, he knows that he doesn’t have to interfere in the lives of his employees to tell them that he can talk if that’s what they need.

It’s like having someone to your house and offering coffee and cake, he said.

They don’t need to take it, but are happy to know it’s there.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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