Virtual Management During COVID-19

Title slide from the presentation.
Date: 
Apr 29, 2020
Playlists: 
Summary: 

Moderated by Miriam Matteson, Kent State University iSchool professor and Interim Associate Dean of the College of Communication and Information, and panelists Karla Aleman - Dean of Library & eLearning, Lorain County Community College; Morag Boyd - Acquisitions and Discovery Strategist, The Ohio State University; and Tiffany Lipstreu - Library Director, Otterbein University; share strategies and best practices for virtual management based in their recent personal experiences. Topics include emotional labor, change management, team communication, and motivation. The last ten minutes are Q&A.

Transcription (select to toggle opened/closed)

Miriam Matteson [00:00:01] You're starting.

 

Alyssa Darden [00:00:04] Yes. Can you guys hear me OK? Wonderful. So I'm glad everyone has logged on today. We definitely have interesting times ahead because there's so much going on with COVID19 and a lot of it is impacting everything that we have going on with our teams, our colleges, just kind of understanding how to do teamwork in this virtual environment and what kind of considerations we need to take as leaders. So this is great for anyone that is/has people that they supervise; I think they'll be something for everyone. So Dr. Miriam Matteson will be kind of leading us through today, and she's an expert in the field in emotional labor and a dean at Kent State's Information School. So I will kind of have her kick us off and then have each panelist introduce themselves with a little short bit about what school they're coming from and what their role is there.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:01:04] Thanks, Alyssa. Thanks, everybody, for coming. It's great to be, you know, quote un-quote virtually with you all today. How about if we do it this way... Why don't I give my little overview that I'm going to give, and then when we transition to the conversation piece, then the panelists can all introduce themselves at that time and that way you can see their faces. And that might make a little more sense just using the technology that we have with us. So I'm going to give a high level overview of some background on like a little bit of the science around emotions, emotional intelligence and emotional labor. I think it's an important way to contextualize what we're all experiencing, both us as managers as well as the people above us in the org chart adjacent to us and below us in the org chart. So it's happening to us all and I think having some context to understand it may help frame a discussion around management questi- issues. So what you're looking at here is what we call the modal model of the emotions process, and I don't know- I find this super fascinating. In our brains, this is what's happening super quickly and unbeknownst to us all the time, with regard to how we take in and understand our emotions. It's completely automatic, and like I said, we're largely unaware of this extremely complex process. But when we experience an emotion, it actually starts with a stimulus, as you see here, which can be a feature of the environment, an event, an interaction, a condition, a temperature, a noise, an aroma; any internal (to us) or external (to us) event can become a trigger/can become a stimulus that causes us to then register it, and so we give it some of our attention. We take it in, maybe not even consciously, but through our sensory systems; we attune to it and think about it in this time, you know, we've got little events like, "oh, I stubbed my toe or somebody is burning bacon in my kitchen" all the way to, "oh, we're in a global pandemic. Oh, fifty plus thousand Americans have died. Oh, we're in a global economic crisis. Oh, my university is in a budgetary crisis..." I mean, the scale and magnitude of the stimuli we're facing right now as a result of this COVID19 situation is is just I know we keep saying unprecedented, but that's because that's the best word. So just from the get-go, our emotions are- our the emotional processes being triggered by some pretty enormous things right now. So we have these stimuli, we attend to them and then we do a really quick appraisal process of that condition, of that event. It's kind of a sense making process where we ask ourselves some questions about the stimulus. Questions like... "Was it expected or unexpected? Is it wanted by me or not wanted by me? Is it related to get letting me get something more of what I want or a desire to get something less of what I don't want? Is it certain or is it uncertain? Is it caused by me? Is it caused by somebody else? Or is the causal agent unknown? Do I have a high degree of control over it or a low degree of control over it? Is it related to a goal because it's furthers my goal or just because it has some inherent characteristic that's that's valuable to me. We do this really fast sense making process around questions like that. And then that tells us how we should feel and how strongly, intensely and how long we should feel something. And we each have our own kind of personal set of rules that we apply to these stimuli and the appraisals we make of the stimuli. And then after we do all that, then we get to the piece where we, lay-people, might think of as having an emotion. Then we have the feeling state, we feel the emotion, whatever it might be. And we we feel it kind of intellectually, but we also there may be some physiology, some somatic or bodily responses. You know- your fear, your heart races, you may sweat- excuse me, you may choke, you know, they're different sort of bodily physiological responses as a result of experiencing the feeling. And then that leads to expressions and behaviors and expressions are, you know, the intrapersonal within us or the interpersonal ways we convey what we're feeling. And so that comes through language- verbal, body language, body gesturing, facial expressions. So much is conveyed through our our physical expression of emotion. Do a little dance if we're joyous, or where we maybe, turn our back to somebody if we're mad or something like that. And then finally, you know, way downstream of all these processes are actual behaviors we might take as a result of an emotion that we're experiencing; engaging or disengaging, taking a walk, writing a letter, you know, things like that. So that's the process. And I think one of more important things to take away, for our purposes today, is the fact that in that emotions process, emotions are valuable to us because they convey information to us. Positive emotions are super informative. They help they help convey that there are rewards to be gained, they help with daily functioning, cooperation, sustaining a task, persevering in a task, willing to do something slightly unpleasant because the positive emotion we get from doing it. But just as importantly, negative emotions are valuable to us, too. They are often important warnings for us. They help us galvanize resources. They direct our attention and behavior towards solving a problem. They help stimulate in us and an adaptive response, adapting to a situation, and then they can be quite motivating. What's really interesting is workers report that their mood was five times stronger for negative events than positive events, in spite of the fact that positive events occur three to five times more often than negative events. We- we stick with our negative events longer than we do our positive events and we're able to recall them better; they have a greater impact on us. So imagine what that might be doing to us now in this time of COVID, with all the stimuli that are likely resulting in us feeling negative emotions, all these warnings and clues and, you know, needing to adapt. And then they're staying with us longer than any sort of positive thing that might also be going on. I've seen it said that negative emotions are kind of like a baby's cry. They're unpleasant and aversive and it causes you to do something to try to get it to stop, you know, we can think about it in that way. But I will just caution, in the red box at the bottom of the slide, though, a couple negative emotions that we really do need to attend to because they are maladaptive; they are they are kind of like empty emotions. They don't trigger that sort of warning or galvanizing of resources. And those are things like hopelessness, worthlessness or despair- they don't have that same motivational purpose as other negative emotions. And experts say if they persist in anyone for more than a week or two, then it's time to seek professional help. You know, I'm- I'm certainly differentiating between those those dynamics within the negative emotions category. So here's a- just a quote from a New York Times opinion piece, that was just on Monday in The New York Times, which kind of illustrates this notion of negative emotions conveying some valuable information. It was the title of the opinion piece was called 'In Praise of Pessimism.' I know some of you maybe saw this. I'll just read this. "And what you may ask are defensive pessimists. They are people who learn, who lean way into their anxiety rather than repress it or narcotize it or allow it to petrify them into stone. They are busily imagining worst case outcomes and they plan accordingly. This tendency can drive their more optimistic friends and relations bananas- defensive pessimists are destroyers of worlds, they're harshers of mellows- but it is, for the calamity howler, a constructive adaptation far more useful than trying to cheer up. There is no cheering up, as far as defensive pessimists are concerned. They reject what the theoretical psychologist Barbara held calls, 'the tyranny of the positive attitude'." So its a person kind of writing to- to justify or explain some of the valuable information that can be conveyed through anxiety, anxiousness, concern, all the kinds of things that a lot of us are feeling right now. So I thought that was kind of relevant to our conversation today. Next. The sub sort of category, subset category under the admissions process, we come to emotional intelligence, which is an ability similar to verbal ability or spatial ability. So what that is, it's something that with knowledge and skill we can get better at. It's "the ability to perceive and express emotions, assimilate emotions in thought, understand and reason with those thoughts and emotional inputs, and then regulate the emotions in ourselves and others." This is the John Mayer and Peter Salovey definition, and they're sort of the predominant model of emotional intelligence in the literature. And they offer this foyr branched model of emotional intelligence, and the thinking here is that individuals again, we all have abilities in these thanks to a greater or lesser extent, and that we can all get better at it with attention and practice and knowledge and that they model... This model suggests that we start kind of at the top with being able to perceive and express emotions. And as we get better at that, we then move through the four branches. So sort of it's kind of like an upper left to bottom right trajectory and it's not linear. You know, we get a little bit on one of the branches and pick up another branch and go forward a little bit and back a little bit. So it's it's not such an easy, straightforward path through. But that- but we're on a pathway toward being able to do these four things better. And they, and they get more complex as you move from top to bottom: to from just identifying emotions in yourselves accurately, to really being able discern between pride and joy for example, all the way down to using those and from those emotions to inform your thought and reasoning, having that inform your language, being able to label and discriminate, understand relationships in terms of the emotional inputs. And then finally, really being able to selectively engage or detach from feelings based on their usefulness to you, based on the kind of information they're conveying and whether, and how, it aligns with any particular goals that you have. So in these heightened emotion times, then we also have this dynamic of some of us are more emotionally intelligent than others. And that's not a good or a bad thing- there's no value judgment there- it's just a fact. And so in addition to being under really trying emotional times, we also have these differing abilities and how we might be managing the emotions in ourselves and others with our emotional intelligence. And I found this tweet a couple days ago that I thought kind of really exhibits some good emotional intelligence and might be in content talking about some of the things that you all are facing. This person said, "here's what I think is making me angry," which is a really great acknowledgement of she's trying to think through what is the source of her anger and using language and understanding the emotions as it relates to her reasoning. "Here's what I think is making me angry. It's an accepted norm that higher-ed/libraries treat us with neoliberal values, yet management expects us to treat them with vocational calling values." So she's got some issues here with some tension that she perhaps feels between the messaging between management and library staff. But she's using really strong emotional intelligence to try to frame it and make sense of it and understand it. So I thought that was a nice example to illustrate how emotional intelligence may or may not be playing out in this notion of virtual management in these, in this time. And then lastly, just a slight on emotional labor, which is the notion that with our jobs, there might be a requirement to express particular emotions. Typically in public-spacing spaces, the emotional requirements are to express positive emotions and suppress negative emotions. And those rules are called 'display rules' and they may be explicit really- written out, although I don't find that very often- it's more often that they're tacitly held or they're just professionally normed either by the profession or by the organization, that that's the desirable emotional response wanted by employees to be positive and suppress negative. But of course, the problem becomes what happens if you're not feeling that emotion authentically, and the literature tells us that people turn to either surface acting or deep acting to try to get to the required emotion to fulfill that 'display rule'. So there probably is a fair amount of emotional labor happening if our- are we- if we and our colleagues and our employees feel again that we're trying to have to soldier through this and be positive when we're really not feeling positive because of the situation that we're in and the emotions process that just talked about. So we're having to turn to these surface or deep acting strategies to still try to fulfill that display rule. And Twitter, as an eternal source of examples of things like this, here's a tweet from somebody who writes, "Supervisors, please don't ask your staff to share the upsides of the current situation. We know how to show up with our students, trust us on that. But making us do performative positivity for our coworkers during a pandemic is sinister and ghoulish." This person is really kind of calling out this emotional labor thing like, 'hey, I know you want me to be positive, but we are in a pandemic. So just could you like, you know, not make me go overtly in the fake positives, you know, don't put me in a position where I have to surface act, trust that I can do my job and let's try to frame things with the gravity that that we find ourselves in.' So I would just wrap this up to say that, of course, work has always been saturated with feelings, that's not a surprise, but I think now it's more acute than ever given the situation we're in with COVID. And so our emotional processing, our emotional intelligence and our emotional labor will always color our work. But now certainly way more intensely than at other times. And then the underlying question that will turn to now with our panelists is how do we manage with these emotional kind of facts in mind? You know what- what are we able to do knowing that this is kind of the emotional terrain we're having to navigate? So with that, let me stop sharing and pull back the panelists. And why don't we start with introductions, Karla? Do you want to go first?

 

Karla Aleman [00:16:28] Yes, hello, everyone, my name is Karla Aleman. I'm at Lorain County Community College in the Northeast Ohio area. And I also am the dean of the library e-learning, tutoring and accessibility services.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:16:44] Thanks, Morag. How about you?

 

Karla Aleman [00:16:49] Your muted.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:16:52] Morag, there you go.

 

Morag Boyd [00:16:59] I'm Morag Boyn at the Ohio State University Library, -- I'm the Acquisitions and Discovery strategist.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:17:07] And Tiffany.

 

Tiffany Lipstreu [00:17:10] Hello everybody, my name's Tiffany Lipstreu. I am the library director at Otterbein Courtright Memorial Library, which is in Central Ohio. And not to steal the floor while I have the mic- I thought this might be a good time, if you wouldn't mind. I'll be quick about this. I just wanted to thank OhioLINK and the incomparable Alyssa Darden and Phil Wilkie for chairing the summit and doing so in this new virtual environment and to Dr. Mary Matteson for your expert preparation and facilitation in our session today. And then, of course, to everyone, just for making the time to care about this topic and to be here today. Being able to prepare for this has allowed me some- maybe forced me- into some time to really deeply reflect on these topics and so I've already learned so much from it and am really appreciative having the opportunity to be here with you and with a fellow panelist today. So thanks.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:17:56] Thank you, Tiffany. That's that's well said, thank you for doing that. So we've got some questions prepared and I'll I'll just do the facilitating and I, and I- I told our presenters that I was going to be maybe a little more controlling-traffic-cop-y than I would normally like to be, just in the virtual environment to try to, you know, without the benefit of so much body language and cueing just, I think it might flow a little better. So with with that caveat, I think we'll we'll go ahead and get started with our questions to the panelists. And then at the end were we're were- we've definitely will leave time for your questions, but do feel free to use the chat box now if you have questions that come up in the middle of an answer. Alyssa's going to be moderating that or tracking those, so, you know, go ahead and get that going, if that's comfortable for you. So first question, and I'll start again with Karla, "what ways are you staying in contact with your team? You have a big staff. How are you working to stay in touch with them and what's working, do you think, with regarding your communications practices?"

 

Karla Aleman [00:19:00] Well, I think with a lot of the strategies that we're probably all, you know, using at this point is kind of taking what were you used to doing and how are we actually doing this, obviously in a virtual environment. In the past, I would meet every two weeks with my direct reports and have, you know, a quick just sort of update meeting. But I'm now doing them every week. So every Thursday the entire day is pretty much update meetings with people. And just on a side note about having these sort of one on one conversations- when this all started, I was in such a like go, go, go kind of mode. And I finally had to, you know, take a moment- let's start by asking, how are you doing today? You know, and a little bit more of that- like, let's take a moment, let's care about the person for a moment and not be so task oriented, which I know we'll probably talk about. But so one component is the sort of the need to regularly touch base with my direct reports. But what's been kind of fascinating is that the whole library and my other areas, so like tutoring and what have you, people have flocked to chat. And a lot of our service points are now using chat as one of their main modes of communicating with students and the community. And so, other people have started to join in. So, for example, when on the library side, we had a bunch of our computer lab aide-students who helped with technology, they all joined the chat service. And so now everyone, technical services and our main admin staff, everyone is in chat right now. And so they all say hello to each other. And I'm not in chat, oddly enough. Huh. So it's kind of interesting how people are finding ways to still connect with each other. And I think the last thing for me is, I have one area, which is online learning, that I am over. And as you can probably imagine, this is complete insanity. And so I actually meet with them almost every single day at the end of the day. We hold a WebEx session together. And so there's kind of a variety of strategies that we're using. But it's it's a burden when you have to schedule this amount of time together, but at the same time, it's just needed. So...

 

Miriam Matteson [00:21:07] What about you Morag? What are you guys doing over there?

 

[00:21:10] We are doing a lot of Zoom, so kind of similar to Tiffany. I went from a place where I had regular meetings with my direct reports. I have five team leaders who report to me and I've kind of kept those meetings, but we added very regular route check-ins with all the team leaders and that started out as daily in the first two weeks. So, and that was really neces- sometimes it was even like twice a day, like 'hey -- together back up.' And now we're doing them twice a week and that is been pretty interesting because it's, I think, developed a much more informal dynamic between the team, which was- I have, of the five team leaders, three of them are pretty new. And that was something I was hoping to build, so it's kind of come out of this, in kind of a different way, in addition. So there are a total of about thirty five faculty and staff in my reporting line and we had been doing a monthly in-person meeting that was very like presentation-y. And now we meet about weekly for a 30 minute meeting and have kind of a lot more discussion and people are really appreciating just having a few- a little bit of time to see a colleague, to have a little bit more of them, more personal connection. And so it's now less about presenting content, but really about connecting. And then, you know, we really have them within the libraries are- the Dean Bar (?)  Library has like- has a, usually every week, a coffee with the dean and you can bring your coffee and join Zoom and ask questions. So we're doing really a lot of those methods. And then each different team kind of has some different approaches. So we have some who are doing a lot of chat. Some are doing regular Zoom's. But everybody's in very regular communication.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:23:02] And Tiffany, anything to add to that?

 

[00:23:06] I'll just start with the second part first and talk about the 'what's working' I mean, maybe these seem obvious, but like, to quickly migrate from e-mails that seem to be going back and forth to just making a call, right. Like we all have some go-to video conference -- just pop into your calendar and put in a team's meeting or something like that; don't don't go at it via e-mail. Another thing is we sort of come up with this mantra, "do not assume," right. We're all in this new norm forming days. And so what you did as a precursor certainly may, but certainly may not still apply. And so we just need to make sure that we're thinking broadly as we approach things. And so I think that that's one tip that we've been doing. Another one is make it easy for the other person. So you may have sent out a document a hundred times and we have One Drive. But if you're like me, and you are talking about something, you likely have it up on a tab; so just do the other one to 10 people a favor and include a link to it, again, like don't make people go hunting for it- just try to do some ease of use. And then some going back to the beginning part of it, and this is- we were a little bit unusual- so I'll give you a little bit of context, but I think it could be helpful. Some of the nuggets that I have in here is that at Otterbein, we had two disasters that we were overcoming, not only the pandemic, but prior to that. On 3/6, we had a- we were cyber attacked. And so we had like over 100 servers were fried, that included things like how you would log in to do your time card or how you would log in to look at your finance information- like authentication systems were down. And so we were- the few of us that still had any communication tool or the ones that had our outlook on our phone. And so with their computers were all down. The week prior to going online, we were, in fact... had no computing skills or services working. And so, when you manage through that, then working from home becomes a pleasure of change. So we were all like, really, you know, up for the a lot of video calls and things like that, because at that point having a video tool that we could all work as things were getting back online and serviced with I.T. was wonderful. But we, in that migration period, we didn't have protocols of an online working environment insofar as some people were already trained, and university where using trained teams, that wasn't the case at our university. And so we had to find this like virtual home base. We use a blackboard course shell that our information literacy library just happened to have and we stole it to be our communications hub. Important documents went there, our schedules, right? Multiple people at home, you know, you might be working a shift very different than what you normally would, right. To get all those hours in with everybody who needs bandwidth and whatnot, and kids that need homeschooled, and we were using then the collaborate ultra tool in there. And a happy outcome of that was, well as the university was moving more towards everyone quickly adopting and using Teams, we had a team discussion about that and we're like, we decided to stay inside of the blackboard shell during this COVID19 period because, just like when we return to campus in there will probably be -- that we need to all be cognizant and working through. I didn't- we didn't necessarily want to move into a Team's world and every time you logged in, you'd see this COVID19 folder, right. And so to have all of that, while we would keep it archived, it would be in this totally different environment that we could go to when we were wanting to and not be triggered by it at a later time.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:26:39] Smart. Good. That's really helpful.

 

Karla Aleman [00:26:42] A quick comment.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:26:44] Yeah! Go ahead Karla.

 

Karla Aleman [00:26:45] So just one thing to think about, too, with communication or at least that I've observed in my area is- and the struggle of a manager, right- is, you know, you can kind of form, you know, ways of communicating with your direct reports and what have you. And sometimes it really is the question of how far does that trickle down. And I think you guys hit, you know, pointed out some of the some of these issues, too. You know, the need for sort of central hubs of information. And I think for all of us, or I assume, you know, all the stuff that was on your to do list, but a little bit lower, like  'develop an intranet that's actually up to date and accurate.' You know, if you have one. I mean, there's all these like different components there. You're like, oh, that would be really good if we had that. And this is exactly when it've been- would have been really good to have some of these really big communication pieces kind of in place. And so that is kind of the the struggle and talk about some of the emotional components as the manager where you're like, "I wish I had found time, but oh well, like we have to move on. We have to get over it." But I'm- it's just there's those moments of just like, I dropped a ball in that area, maybe we should have taken care of that earlier. You know, oh well.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:27:52] Karla, why don't you bemoan that for a few minutes.

 

Karla Aleman [00:27:57] Give me a moment.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:28:02] Some of you already hitting on this, but I maybe it will ask you to delve a little bit deeper. My question was, you know, managements often viewed as a balance between attention to task, getting the tasks done and an attention to the humans around it. And there's even a model where you can take a test and see whether you're more task or more person or some balance, you know, how are you finding- I mean, you obviously feel you have to continue to execute work, obviously, we can't just stop. But people, people need some support, too. So how are you balancing that? Morag, let's start with you this time.

 

Morag Boyd [00:28:37] Yeah. So. I've been thinking a lot about and really paying attention to, so I usually say- I always say- my main job is to make it possible for other people to do their jobs. So that kind of continues to to be my focus. Definitely- so an interesting thing for me: I've actually seen the difference in preferred work styles and communication has become a little more obvious in the- in this environment, in some ways. So... So those people who are more task focused- ok, we're going to approach this more from a task way and other people need, you know, it's like let's take some time. You know, I've noticed my supervisor also is really attending to expressing appreciation and positive feedback. And that really has helped me in times where I felt a little down. So trying to reflect that back as well. And so it's really about multiple methods. So some people voice calls, some people video calls, some people e-mail. So whatever is working and doing that combination. And then I think we're being pretty consistent in saying that, you know, we're- wellness is a, is a great value of our university and expressing that to people as well. So it's fine. You know, we all need to do some self-care or some group care, we need to have some fun. So like one of my teens does weekly Zoom Pictionary. And now they're challenging other departments. So, you know, sometimes, you know, a little bit of time for that fun and that personal connection, then it's a lot easier to do when you just kind of pass in the hallway or you end up sitting together at lunchtime and you really can't do that. You have to [cuts out] to attending to the people in a way that I might have taken for granted. [cuts out] Person, So I think really trying to meet everybody where they are, but also being clear about what task needs to be done. So again... [cuts out] This has to be done this way, it to be done by this date, but also understanding that how people get there can be different.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:31:04] Yeah, yeah. Well said. Tiffany, what about you, how are you balancing?

 

Tiffany Lipstreu [00:31:12] So I don't need to take that quiz because I'm very clear on which side that I lean. However, you know, knowing that is the first step to correcting it. So just when we were when we were in a couple of minutes early before this all started, some of the other folks were talking it. And Karla, you gave me a moment to exhale because you were talking about this phenomenon or whatever of needing to balance with task and people. So I would just say that, you know, for the balance, for me, it's kind of like trust and verify the task side of it, but also ask and follow up on the personal side of things. And honestly, I don't know that I could give you like, 'am I balanced, like, is there a percentage that I can say because I find that often when you're doing one, you're doing both, right. When you call- when you're having a call to find out what the status of this is or if someone's ready to share it on at a staff meeting, you're also giving that point of connection so that you can find out how- you'd like pulse check the person. So I find that is, that maybe you can- maybe you are more balanced in that you can do both things at once and oftentimes, right. Then the other thing that I think that fits into this whole idea of balancing the people and the task is that is that we as managers, as supervisors, we have to be champions of our folks. Right. And so that, at the department level that where we're -- stops as far as making sure that our staff are safe in the work that needs to be done. Right. And so I think that that is something that we really need to make sure that we're being clear on and being advocates for our staff in our department, that there is sometimes this contradictory pro and con about the value of the library. Right. Many of us, in this pre stay-at-home days, were being asked to stay open to give the community a place to go. But when... But you know what, you- your space then can become a hot zone and you've got your folks there. And so there's this this issue of what you need to do to, you know, speak up to get yourself in front of Cabinet level or the decision makers to make sure that you are thinking about the tasks and the people as paramount.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:33:22] Yeah, good points. Karla, what are you doing?

 

[00:33:25]  I will admit, I am a very task oriented person myself. So it's such an interesting balance right now because I am focusing a lot more on just sort of this online learning component of my job. And I feel like, in meeting with them almost every day, it is so task oriented: "OK. What are we doing here? Have we done done this? Who's taking care of that?" And at the same time, when I meet with other folks, a lot of it is just, "how are you doing? You know, are you- are you. You're managing everything OK? Thank you. Wonderful. Is there anything you need me to do?" And then it's much more just sort of chit chatting. Right. And part of it is because, you know, I have a leader that I can trust to kind of do and take care of what's going going on over there. And at the same time, you know, that's kind of the pattern we've had for a few weeks, but now that we're... So just to let everyone know, my- I've basically decided to do a reorganization, which is a huge strategic planning effort. And as part of that, the the- I've asked everyone to do some deep thinking about what are the tasks that we do, what are the services and put them on a scale. I need you to prioritize because we're looking at budget cuts, you know, and to kind of acknowledge the the issue of the budget cuts- that's going to be universal for for everyone, I think, you know, it's- and the fear that people have around it. There's a whole lot of uncertainty, right, that we're dealing with. So one thing to kind of think about is, you know, just just the transition, what can people even do from home? And if we're looking at a couple of years of us mostly kind of being online services or being in and out of our spaces, you know, do people have the ability to work from home, and what does that mean about their jobs and the importance of their jobs, as noted earlier. And so, there's just a lot of things to think about. Question for for maybe everyone on the panel, have you guys, you know, dones types of surveys kind of get a pulse of, you know, how people are doing at home, if they're able to work from home, all of that kind of stuff.

 

Morag Boyd [00:35:39] So I guess, yeah. In a few different ways that we're approaching that, so like so we have to have all these telework agreements, so part of that is also kind of knowing who in the organization doesn't have work to do at home and then who- and so right now we've gone through a process of inventorying work that is available for telework and matching then that up with the skills and availability for people who need some work to do at home. Then with, especially in the early days, a lot of conversations with people about their ability to work at home and the university, really has been -- and the library [cuts out] about providing people with the technology they need; so laptops, mobile hotspots. You know, our IT people were driving all around Columbus, dropping off equipment, so they really went far above and beyond. But there, you know, there are a few people where it's really been a struggle. They didn't really have the ther- their regular job is one that meant that they never had to learn to use these tools and technologies and it's much more difficult to support somebody when you can't be with them and show them. So so so, of course, we had some people where it is still a little bit of a struggle, and so that will be something we'll be working on. -- Facing budget or anticipating budget reductions and really thinking about- the priority is, of course, keeping everybody; protecting staff positions is a high priority. But in some cases, we cannot rule out the possibility that people will be asked to do different things than they do today and that can also be hard for people. So. So all of those considerations, definitely.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:37:36] Oh gosh, I'm mindful of our time. I think I'm going to go to this question. So I guess we're in week- I'm in week six of work from home or maybe it's week seven- what's today, I don't know. We're all in that phase, aren't we? So what have the last five, six or seven weeks taught you about your management abilities? Like what have you learned? Ideas and practices that, that you're like, "wow, I wish I hadn't done that or like, wow, I'm glad I'm doing that or I'm glad I discovered that, that you might even want to keep going back when our campuses are reopened." You know, what- what have you learned about yourselves? Kar- let's see. Tiffany, let's start with you on this one.

 

Tiffany Lipstreu [00:38:23] What I learned about myself. Probably that I swear too much and probably just truly like I've more pronounced identification of my failings. Right. Like just to be honest with you. So trying to figure out how- what you could be doing more, or how you could be doing things differently, that would fit the varying needs of your team. So some of the other things I would say is, you know, like what is working? I guess my openness to change and change management; it doesn't scare me actually thrive and love that. And so I think just the best part of our daily operations and kind of modus operandi within our team, was that we look forward to playing the break-it game. Right. Like we would much rather discover any issues behind the scenes in this controlled lab than once it goes live to everybody. And so I think that we just had that kind of spirit of testing things out and checking things out and being open to change. So I really liked that about the way that, you know, we just had that kind of culture. Things that could be changed... I guess maybe more of an openness to work from home, you know, like it's been proven, right. And so I've like listen to some podcasts where they were talking about just, you know, in every industry how this is going to- how we can leverage the lessons learned in ways that can make it better, stronger, different. And so, like, I definitely an openness to working from home in ways that I don't think could have been there before because we didn't have this territory to prove it out.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:40:04] Karla, what about you?

 

Karla Aleman [00:40:06] So I think for me, as I mentioned, I can be very task oriented. And when I first came on- it, this was my first administrative position and four years ago or so- and I admit I started off very cautious, wanting to take everything in. And I think what's been fascinating, though, is I love change. I actually want to, you know, like Tiffany, I thrive in this kind of environment. And so but when I started and I've tried to build more of a collaborative process of decision making, and because I think that's so important, I don't have all the answers. You know, I don't have the perfect opinion and correct, you know, way of, you know, doing everything. So I've always tried to approach things much more collaboratively, but we went into crisis mode, and I was- to a certain extent- I allowed myself to be a more of a director. You know, being more directive, I guess, I should say, than I was in the past. And it was it's- you know what, keep it simple. Do this, do this, do this. And we're just going to get, you know, not worry about some of the things that we used to have need to flesh out in full detail. Now it's just get to the point and get to it. Right. And so I think for me, the transition back now is, there's still a need for things to move quickly, but at the same time, we are now dealing with, you know, any incorrect decision or, you know, the flip side or the negative sides of anything that that has happened. And so we have to move forward a little bit more cautiously. But so I'm hoping going forward, though, is a much better balance for myself as a leader to say, "OK, we need to do this, we need to do it fairly quickly. Let's prepare as much as we can beforehand and not waste any time when we know a decision is coming, because that is one thing about my campus's decisions tend to be made very quickly, higher- you know, with the higher ups. And so part of it for me is just working with my team a little bit better on preparing for those decisions as quickly as possible before we're even asked, you know. So that for me, it's more of a major change in just how I work with my teams and making decisions and being collaborative and just getting stuff done.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:42:27] What about you Morag?

 

Morag Boyd [00:42:28] Yeah. So I've felt like this was a hard one to think about. So in fact, it had already been suggested to me as a topic for our managers meeting tomorrow to kind of think about what are the things we want to take forward from this. I think definitely things like understanding, you know, we I think we'll have a lot more openness as an organizational culture to people working at home. And I'm already emphasizing when we do start returning to campus, really having respect for the decisions that people make that are best for them and their lives. And some people might- are anxious to come back to work and some people are anxious not to come back to campus, and both of those are valid points of view. And then for me, it's finding really like I said, we've really had very positive, I think, for my team to have more regular, less structured discussions. But at the same time, I've also noticed that I used to be, in-person, I'd be kind of often just stop by people's offices when I had a thought or wanted to ask them a question. And then now I'm like, "oh maybe that probably isn't the best strategy, at least for some people who need some warning that I'm going to come asking them for something." So. So I think understanding more some of the differences in how people work, just having- have had to go through a big shift with people. You really understand them better as a person. I think.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:43:55] You can't do the sabotage quite as easily of just like sticking your head in somebodies door and completely derailing them, right. Like it's takes a lot more effort to do that.

 

Morag Boyd [00:44:06] I'm sorry. Don't -- do in the past.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:44:10] Yeah. Tiffany, did you- I've lost track. Did we hear from you on this question?

 

Karla Aleman [00:44:16] She was first.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:44:17] Yeah, that's what I thought. OK, good. I didn't want to leave you out. We have about eight minutes left in our hour, so I definitely want to open up to questions from, from our attendees.

 

Alyssa Darden [00:44:30] We did have one that came through, kind of during the presentation. So in a time- and this is from Zachary Lewis- in a time when layoffs and furloughs are a very real possibility, the schism between faculty and staff has the potential to grow and as university administrations may appear to value faculty more than staff. Do the folks on the panel have any tips for closing this gap or preventing it from worsening? So closing that gap between faculty and staff, especially during these times, maybe when we aren't on campus kind of working face to face with them?

 

Karla Aleman [00:45:10] Yeah, I have to process that for a moment. Fortunate- well, maybe not fortunately- unfortunately, we actually don't have as many faculty librarians as other areas. So we have a massive staff base, you could say, including a huge cadre of student workers. So I think the dynamics may be a little bit different. But that being said, obviously all of our faculty members in the division are all tenured and secure in that, in that area. But I can tell you from from speaking with them, there is still uncertainty and some concern even on their part; will I have a job after this? So I think part of it maybe, too- is there a way to facilitate some of these conversations or to- to have, you know, both sides kind of communicate with each other? I don't know exactly how, but part of it is to realize everyone is afraid right now. Everyone is dealing with a whole lot of uncertainty. And I and I think it's important to also say the administrator is also going through this. And, you know, I had a sleepless weekend when I- when I finally made the decision: I am going to do it re-org. And it may mean, you know, a lot of repercussions and a lot of people in jobs, they may not, you know, didn't apply for, but now need to do so. I don't know necessarily how to make that that bridge, but I think part of it really is just, can we be open at about everyone having concerns, acknowledging maybe some of these negative emotions?

 

Morag Boyd [00:46:44] Yeah, I don't know that I can answer that one specifically, but can bring to mind some other maybe related dynamics. So even thinking about within the fac- so we have faculty librarians and all of us in my part of the library have operations that we run, stuff that we supervise, we're very busy. And other colleagues were like, "oh, I guess I can just work on my research the next couple of months." And so that was kinda disheartening to my colleagues who are like, "no, I have to continue. In fact, I have to work harder now because I'm moving my whole team to an online environment or shifting them to completely new tasks." And then also we would spend- thinking, too, about people whose jobs could just kind of transition readily to online and people who have to do new tasks when we had to start teleworking. [cuts out] It's essential, not essential. And so I think it's obviously really difficult to hear, like, "oh, your whole department is not essential. Right. -- So it's not essential in the sense of, like we are not a critically needed service to be on campus, but work is still important. So how to convey that? So that kind of 'important but not essential' has kind of become my mantra. Right. And so when we think about- but obviously, as we think about budget reductions- and again, the university is strongly saying "our first priority is honoring our employees of all of our faculty and staff employees." Maybe not student employees, unfortunately so, because that's a much more flexible part of the budget. So how can we just think about, yes, everybody will have a job, but again, possibly differently then what you were doing last year.

 

Tiffany Lipstreu [00:48:41] I think I can just add- and I think it was Zachary's question, and forgive me if I if I'm not getting this correctly- there's two components of it, right? There's like an inter-departmental; how you keep good morale between the two maybe different assembly groups. Right. If you have a governance system that has like a faculty assembly and then a staff assembly or something closely aligned like that, both inside of the department and then it seems like how do you advocate for the importance of any one of those assemblies at a higher level? So with the- with the, if I heard that right, with that there's a possibility that the staff assembly might have a lower tier to the faculty, potentially as perceived or real at any given organization. So what I- the thoughts that came to my head is just to try to work those channels, those governance channels, right. Like if you do have a staff assembly, make sure that they're advocating for that entire group of persons. Also, take leadership up on their offers. Right. So we had not only the President but our Provost and Vice President, who is over academic affairs through we report up through, make offers to come to our staff meetings. And at first I was like, you know, there's a double edged sword. You certainly don't want to seem tone deaf to their their their priorities and their needs. But we were able to find and- forgive me for not saying this earlier, happy National Library week to all last week- but we happened to have a virtual staff meeting on the Tuesday of National Library week on National Library worker's day. Right. And so we were able to use that angle to, I think, rightfully ask for our Provost and Vice President to come to our, to our staff meeting to kind of celebrate everyone on that call. But she also stayed to hear some of the things that we were working on. You know, like we're not just going- taking our services and going virtual, we are actually expanding, augmenting, bettering services while doing everything else that we're trying to juggle with, and I think in a- in a way that we're keeping equilibrium. So like she got to hear all that first hand and then we got to hear from her first hand. And so like if you had questions such as these very serious things, you had a moment of direct contact with that person. And I think- who is a decision maker- and I think that that could have been helpful.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:50:53] I would just add Zach, too. I think it's gonna be important if you're in a situation where there is job restructuring or job loss, you know, any personnel actions like that. I think it would behove everyone to figure out how there will be grief associated with that. And that's expected and OK and natural and ought not to be tabled or, you know, shuttered. And, you know, too often emotions like that are not- we've got like some sort of tacit rule about we don't talk about- we make it undiscussable, we make it not OK to discuss that in the workplace. And I just feel like that's a real missed opportunity because people will very likely be feeling it. And it's just better to to find a way to to have to have that be discussable and that might look differently for different environments, of course. But but pretending it's not there is not gonna be probably a good solution.

 

Karla Aleman [00:51:54] Speaking to that a little bit, one thing that again, another staff member had brought up, because our college did have to scale back a few years ago and, you know, a number of people lost their jobs. And so when this all started and I was like, "okay, we're kind of thinking we might need to do a reorg," had asked, you know, what was it like then and what were some of the experiences part of it? And one of the things that someone had mentioned was just the need to acknowledge that there is grief right now, not only in the potential fear, but also people had plans for the summer. They had plans for the great work that they were going to do, you know, next year or we're finally going to be able to do this really cool project, we're finally going to be able to take care of this; and that may be gone now for them. And now they're not only are they looking at well that project is no longer going to happen, but the budget is gone and it's never coming back, you know, or what have you. And so, you know, there's just grief. And I don't know if I have a good way to acknowledge and allow people to grieve, apart from just being delicate around it or, you know, perhaps being delicate isn't the way to go about it, I don't know, you know, but I think that is kind of a central question for managers is, you know, there is grief right now in just our work and what we wanted to do and how do we work with our folks and clean our own grief about kind of what's what's happening.

 

Miriam Matteson [00:53:20] Are there other questions?

 

Alyssa Darden [00:53:25] No other questions have have come through. But selfishly, I have one. So, Tiffany, you were mentioning before, you know, it's one of those things that was a little interesting, about kind of transitioning off of campus, is that libraries were asked to stay open, to be a place for people to come to. And now, you know, Governor DeWine has come out and had some guidelines for going back to work, opening back businesses, opening offices back up. How can we, as managers, really take the temperature of our teams and say, you know, who's comfortable coming back? What if this is mandated that, "oh, the library needs to be open cuz students need a place to study and get access to computers and printing." How can we as managers kind of balance the needs of our teams and the wants of the university in that transition back to campus in a time where it might not be totally safe for everyone to come back?

 

Tiffany Lipstreu [00:54:24] Great quesiton. So one of the ways that we're addressing this or some of the ways that we're addressing is- let's say probably two weeks into working from home and maybe when we had had our first deep breath and feeling we had composure, poise there- we started/a team of folks at the library already started on this return to campus plan, right. So they were- they were identifying... For us to be able to do this, in a- the safest manner, how- what would we need? And so checking back in with that and walking through that document has allowed conversations to already be started: like we do not have a 24/7 space in our library, but I sure would like to make that happen. Well, you know, so I had to- but we're also, you know, in an environment of right sizing- and prior to and now the the financial situation because of the pandemic. So how can we do that without being operation- using operational money? Right. So do we have grants and endowments and things that we can call? Do I have other departments inside of my building that I can talk and ask if they have grants and other things that can be used for these kind of purposes to make this 24/7 space so that we can allow for the library to reopen as space, but maybe for us to do a slow return. So like the way that we're envisioning it, at this point, is that we're going to... and again for those kind of like PTSD issues that might be happening once you come back into the building, but also trying to figure out as a staff how we work together in the safest way, right. How do we ensure that we've got six feet distance, a social distancing rules? You know, who can wear a mask, those kind of things- like just giving ourselves what we're hoping is three weeks that we would be back in the building as a staff. But we would not be... And at the same time, we would still be virtual so that we could do a slow roll into a reopening of our services in a way that we were always keeping on top of the safety of it. So one of the questions that we are asking now, just throw out a couple of things here, is we keep hearing that you can't have over 100 people. But a hundred people in my office would be community spread, a hundred people in a gymnasium might not. Right. So we were thinking, you know, the normal fire marshal rule is the standard measurement for how many people per square footage. Well, what we needed CDC or someone had to say is what is the rule in these kind of communities spread issues. And I just saw the governor's latest infographic. It says 50 percent of fire marshal rule is the safe pandemic conditions for how many people you can have in any given space. So factoring in those kind of things, I think that's everything that's quickly coming to mind, and I completely acknowledge I did not fully answer that question.

 

Alyssa Darden [00:57:08] That was a really good answer. That's yeah, that's a lot to consider. And I know we're really coming up on time here, but we have one last question come in from Robin. "Could this be the death knell for allocating a large amount of resources to print collections? It could have a major impact on staff if the print collections no longer have such a large amount allocated to them."

 

Karla Aleman [00:57:30] I'm going to say yes. Yes. As I just met with our technical services staff yesterday to go over that kind of ranking list of all the services that they provide. And in the end, and someone- so many of us know, you know, a lot of technical services is around the processing of print materials. And so for them, it is that question of, there you have a lot of skills and a lot of talent. We may need you to use this in different ways because, you know, there's a stronger focus to electronic and what have you. But again, yeah, it's needing to acknowledge that. As much as print is loved in many ways.. what are you going to do? Otherwise, Morag might have more to say on this.

 

Morag Boyd [00:58:23] Yeah, I could say more and I would not necessarily disagree with you. I think in the short term, if we really look at- if we do kind of at our biggest projected budget reductions- and if all discretionary spending goes away and a lot of that is on print. I don't think for us print will ever go away; It's clearly been shrinking, they expect it to continue to shrink. Our staff have been shrinking, who work on print. So it's not like there's currently- the alignment is not- the misalignment isn't the same as it might have been a few years ago. But also, this telework has also demonstrated that these staff, that staff with cataloging skills have really enjoyed and performed fantastically on meta-data enrichment and correction projects. And we have a lot of that to do so. So, yes, we have skills. We have people who have skills. We are already demonstrating that they can be used in different ways and that people are finding that work fulfilling and interesting. And so hopefully we can take that forward. So I think we will- I'm definitely expecting us to have a dip of some sort next year. And then what happens after that? It's harder to say, but when we go back. [cuts out, inaudiable] sitting there, we're going to have to deal with it.

 

Alyssa Darden [00:59:53] I know we're at time. I wanted to express appreciation for all of our wonderful panelists and for Dr. Matteson for running us through the theory behind what everyone's experiencing on on our teams and our campuses. And thank you guys all for attending. And just in case you have any other questions, you can definitely e-mail me if your question didn't get answered and we'll try to find an answer for you. So have a lovely afternoon, everyone. Thank you.

 

Miriam Matteson [01:00:21] Thanks, everybody. Not too many more questions coming in, so I think we can log off. Thank you again, you guys are amazing. Really key things to talk through. I know it's all new to everyone and we have all these different aspects of management to think through and organizations and some safety to balance, and all of that technology and what's going to happen in the future. So it was a huge topic and I really appreciate you guys taking up the challenge and running through it all, so, again, thanks.

 

Alyssa Darden [01:01:29] I'm grateful to be asked to join and to participate, and to hear, obviously, what the other panelists said and what have you. So thank you.

 

Morag Boyd [01:01:37] Yeah, it's great. Thank you all.

 

Alyssa Darden [01:01:40] All right, well have a lovely afternoon. Take care. Bye.

 

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