High Caliber Teams

Things have been quiet here for a few months. I have been working on a new project, a website that is designed around team building and team performance. I have started posting articles and resources at my new site http://highcaliberteams.com

The concept of team performance and the factors that help or inhibit team performance have aways interested me. Especially ways to measure that performance. I hope you will visit the new site. Thank you for all of your support on ronpalinkas.com.

Best Regards, Ron

The Surprising Traits of Good Remote Leaders

Strong in-person leadership skills don’t necessarily translate to being a good virtual leader. Instead, organisation and competency reign supreme.F

Fifteen years ago, Steven Charlier, chair of management at Georgia Southern University in the US, had a hunch that in-person charisma and leadership skills don’t translate virtually. “Before I became an academic, I worked for IBM for a number of years on a lot of virtual teams,” he says. “I had a boss who was a wonderful guy and great manager, and he drove me crazy trying to communicate. He was incredibly slow and unresponsive.” 

This seed of professional vexation has borne fruit, with new data showing that the confidence, intelligence and extroversion that have long propelled ambitious workers into the executive suite are not enough online, because they simply don’t translate into virtual leadership. Instead, workers who are organised, dependable and productive take the reins of virtual teams. Finally, doers lead the pack – at least remotely.

The study shows that, instead of those with the most dynamic voices in the room, virtual teams informally anoint leaders who actually do the work of getting projects done. “They are the individuals who help other team members with tasks, and keep the team on schedule and focused on goals,” says lead author Radostina Purvanova, an associate professor of management and leadership at Drake University in the US state of Iowa.

The ascendance of worker bees to remote leadership roles may provide validation – and even relief – to the legions of hard workers who have, for generations, watched charming colleagues rise to the top.Instead of those with the most dynamic voices in the room, virtual teams informally anoint leaders who actually do the work of getting projects done (Credit: Alamy)

Instead of those with the most dynamic voices in the room, virtual teams informally anoint leaders who actually do the work of getting projects done (Credit: Alamy)

‘Doers’ getting their due

The study, published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, tracked 220 US-based teams to see which team members emerged as leaders across in-person, virtual and hybrid groups. The researchers conducted a series of in-lab experiments with 86 four-person teams, and also traced the communications and experiences of 134 teams doing a semester-long project in a university class (students are commonly used as proxy for workers in leadership research). The study was carried out pre-pandemic, focusing on emergent leadersthose perceived as leaders, and whose influence is willingly accepted.

As expected, the face-to-face teams chose leaders with the same confident, magnetic, smart-seeming extroverted traits that we often see in organisational leaders. “The people who portray themselves as organised, dependable and reliable look to us like effective leaders,” says Purvanova. But those chosen as remote leaders were doerswho tended towards planning, connecting teammates with help and resources, keeping an eye on upcoming tasks and, most importantly, getting things done. These leaders were goal-focused, productive, dependable and helpful.

The ascendance of worker bees to remote leadership roles may provide to the legions of hard workers who have watched charming colleagues rise to the top

In other words, virtually, the emphasis shifts from saying to doing. This discovery is timely, as most of our workplace in-person teams are now all or partially digital operations in the wake of the pandemic.

“In face-to-face interactions, most of us are very easily swayed by the power of personality,” says Purvanova. “Virtually, we are less swayed by someone’s personality and can more accurately assess whether or not they are actually engaging in important leadership behaviours. People are more likely to be seen based on what they actually do, not based on who they are.”

Georgia Southern’s Charlier is not surprised to find a wide gulf between the behaviours of in-person and remote leaders. “In any leadership role, you’ve got to establish that trust. It’s trusting that the person is going to do things, and trusting that they’re telling the truth and being up front and honest. But how you go about doing that virtually is a little different – it’s a different skill set.”

Laying important groundwork

Studying leader emergence is complicated: teams are rarely strictly virtual or face-to-face, and instead operate on a hybrid continuum (for example, teams that work in-office, yet communicate by Slack). Meanwhile, leaders’ behaviours and personality traits have different effects along that continuum, and need to be tracked and measured – both as reported by teammates and self-reported, all in real time. This is the first broad study to trace all those threads.Even though face-to-face colleagues choose gregarious leaders, new research shows that those who get down to executing tasks are better virtual leaders (Credit: Alamy)

Even though face-to-face colleagues choose gregarious leaders, new research shows that those who get down to executing tasks are better virtual leaders (Credit: Alamy)

Nataly Lorinkova, an assistant professor of management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, says that the research opens the door to further exploration of virtual leaders’ interpersonal relationships and emotion management.

“To me, this is half the story,” she says, pointing out that though the study data touches on interpersonal relationships, it more heavily measures task-oriented actions, which are only a portion of what drive leadership. “The next logical step is [to study] how team members manage interpersonal relations and behaviours and who emerges as leaders. We don’t really know that.” For example, a follow-up study might explore whether doer leaders maintain interpersonal skills over time.

In the meantime, gregarious types who naturally assume in-person leadership roles shouldn’t despair. Transforming into a winning remote leader is feasible, but the adjustment might be rocky, and “could be frustrating to people who are used to emerging as leaders on project teams, and suddenly find that people aren’t paying as much attention to them”, says Barbara Larson, executive professor of management at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, who is a leader in virtual team research. She finds the study’s implications meaningful, including the need for widespread workplace training in virtual social dynamics.

“It’s kind of exciting, if you think about it,” says Larson. “Suddenly it’s not just about who talks the most, but rather, who is actually getting stuff done.”

By Arianne Cohen 9th September, 2020 https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200827-why-in-person-leaders-may-not-be-the-best-virtual-ones

4 ways to design employee experience in the remote work era

Employee satisfaction isn’t just good for the work environment — it also makes companies stronger. Firms rated in the top 25% in terms of employee experience have the best business value, according to researchers from the MIT Center for Information Systems Research, who found that those companies also have higher customer satisfaction rates, are faster and more agile — and are more profitable.Work smart with our Thinking Forward newsletterInsights from MIT experts, delivered every Tuesday morning.Email Address 

Companies that build positive employee experiences enable workers through an adaptive work environment and collective work habits to do the work of today and to reimagine the work of tomorrow, according to Kristine Dery, a research scientist as CISR who focuses on the relationship between technology and how people work. And with widespread disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have had to reimagine experience for employees scattered in thousands of different “workplaces” — their homes.

During a recent webinar, Dery and executives from CarMax and multinational law firm King & Wood Mallesons said longstanding roadblocks have faded during the work from home transition, as even reluctant companies or employees had to quickly embrace communication platforms and other technologies. At the same time, new challenges have emerged as companies attempt to recreate systems and working methods that worked in the office.

Here are four ways to design employee experiences in the coronavirus era:

Shift from survival to redesign

After several months of research about employee experiences during the pandemic, Dery said organizations tend to go through three phases.

During the survival phase, companies are focused on becoming operational and more connected by getting everyone up and running despite disruption, and making sure required hardware, software, and capabilities are in place. Communication often flows one way from the company to employees during this phase.

Eventually, companies move into the recreating and reimagining the employee experience phase — finding out what employees need to thrive again. Things become more chaotic as multiple demands emerge and what seemed to be working might turn out to be problematic. Pre-disruption difficulties become more enhanced, and problems might emerge as new tools and technologies are deployed. The key during this phase is to listen and work hard.

Finally, companies should move into the redesigning phase as they start to implement ways for employees to succeed in the COVID-19 environment and beyond. During this phase, look for data, insights, and stories to learn what’s sticking.

Move from a “culture of heroics” to processes and systems

Companies that deliver strong employee experiences deliberately move away from a culture of heroics, in which employees often have to go above and beyond to find ways to deliver for customers, becoming “heroes” in the organization, Dery said.  

Instead of depending on heroic employees, companies should focus on processes and systems that can deliver for customers consistently and solve more complex problems. “Let’s figure those things out, and then let’s embed those into our organization, either through technology or through behaviors or through new metrics. That connection is much more systemic,” she said.

Implementing systems includes:

-Integrating operations across silos to make it easier for employees to innovate and deliver on the customer experience.

-Allowing seamless access to data and information about customers, putting power into the hands of employees to do what technology can’t do.

-Digitizing work, which allows for employee mobility — especially important now — and employee self-help.

-Using employee platforms, which allow employees to search for information and ideas, easily share knowledge, and reduce duplication.

Companies should also consider a dedicated customer experience team. “That phase where different employee experiences across the company were creating all sorts of quite chaotic decisions and responses was managed much more effectively by companies that had a dedicated [employee experience] team, that were looking at that right across the organization, and able to create more systemic accountability measures,” Dery said. These companies were able to get technology into the hands of employees faster, and could anticipate speed bumps ahead of time, instead of reacting to them after the fact.  

Use empathetic leadership to make connections  

Empathetic leadership is another driver of success, Dery said, as leaders ask employees to share concerns and where they need support. This doesn’t just mean soft caring skills, which are also important right now, Dery said. “It’s really changing the whole dynamic of leadership within organizations and ways of thinking about what great leaders look like, in these more remote environments,” she said.2 5 %Share 

-Integrating operations across silos to make it easier for employees to innovate and deliver on the customer experience.

-Allowing seamless access to data and information about customers, putting power into the hands of employees to do what technology can’t do.

-Digitizing work, which allows for employee mobility — especially important now — and employee self-help.

-Using employee platforms, which allow employees to search for information and ideas, easily share knowledge, and reduce duplication.

Firms rated in the top 25% in terms of employee experience have the best business value, according to researchers.

This was part of the work from home transition for employees at King & Wood Mallesons, which shifted to remote work in March, according to Michelle Mahoney, the executive director of innovation.

While the company first made sure employees had what they needed to work at home, King & Wood Mallesons also saw a significant increase in conversations and check-ins, Mahoney said. The company conducted employee surveys every two weeks — now every four weeks — about leadership, well-being, remote technology, and whether employees were able to continue delivering what was needed to clients.

Teams were eager to recreate line-of-sight management despite being disconnected, Mahoney said, leading to an increase in using digital Kanban boards, which allow teams to visualize work flows. “They love seeing the work for the week, reports of each day,” she said. “They know where it’s going. They’ve had a huge impact around being more in control of what’s coming.”

If anything, Mahoney said, connecting is proving too easy.

“One thing we haven’t been able to conquer … is about people being able to turn off,” Mahoney said. The company might have suggestions and advice about how to disconnect at the end of the day, she said, but people are still struggling with how to turn off “work mode.”

Enable empowered teams

Shamim Mohammad, senior vice president and chief information and technology officer at CarMax, said his company has benefitted from cross-functional product teams — groups of seven to nine people who are given specific outcome goals to accomplish through experimenting, testing, and learning along the way. Every two weeks the teams present what they’ve accomplished to other product teams and members of the C-suite. Management has visibility and transparency into the work being done, while teams know their leaders have a vested interest in what they are doing.

CarMax is still using objectives and key results to measure car sales and company performance, though the smaller teams have specific business outcome goals, which easily aligns with remote work.

“We’re supporting them to go through this experimentation mindset,” Mohammad said. Especially now, “we cannot have all the people locked in a room, right? They’re distributed, they’re all over the place, and creativity really comes from the team, not from the leaders.”

Sara Brown https://mitsloan.mit.edu/ideas-made-to-matter/4-ways-to-design-employee-experience-remote-work-era

How to Overcome Survivorship Bias

A few months ago I shared a story and post on Facebook about survivorship bias and was amazed how often it was liked and shared. It also highlights the risk of survivorship bias in the gaming and gambling space. The image and blurb told the story how the navy analyzed aircraft that had been damaged and based future armament decisions on where they had received battle damage, thus they were going to increase the armor on the wingtips, central body and elevators. These were the areas that showed the most bullet holes.

One statistician, Abraham Wald, the founder of statistical sequential analysis, however fortuitously stopped this misguided effort. According to Wikipedia, “ Wald made the assumption that damage must be more uniformly distributed and that the aircraft that did return or show up in the samples were hit in the less vulnerable parts. Wald noted that the study only considered the aircraft that had survived their missions—the bombers that had been shot down were not present for the damage assessment. The holes in the returning aircraft, then, represented areas where a bomber could take damage and still return home safely. Wald proposed that the Navy instead reinforce the areas where the returning aircraft were unscathed, since those were the areas that, if hit, would cause the plane to be lost.”

Survivorship bias is universal

Survivorship bias occurs everywhere. If you are a poker player, you may have a hand of three of clubs, eight of clubs, eight of diamonds, queen of hearts and ace of spades. The odds of that particular configuration are about three million to one, but as economist Gary Smith writes in Standard Deviations, “after I look at the cards, the probability of having these five cards is 1, not 1 in 3 million.”

Another example would be professional basketball. If you look at the best professional basketball players, a high percentage never went to university for more than one year. From this information, you (or your teen son) may infer the best path to the NBA is going to university for one year or less. The reality is that there are millions (if not billions) of people who went to university for less than a year and never played in the NBA (or even the G League). The LeBron Jameses and DeAndre Aytons are likely in the NBA despite playing less than a year in college due to their great skill, not because they did not go to university for more than a year.

As an investor, survivorship bias is the tendency to view the fund performance of existing funds in the market as a representative comprehensive sample. Survivorship bias can result in the overestimation of historical performance and general attributes of a fund.

In the business world, you may go to a Crossfit gym that is packed with the owner making a great living. You decide to leave your day job and replicate his success. What you did not see is the hundreds of Crossfit gyms that are not profitable and have closed.

The problem exists in gaming

You often see survivorship bias in the gaming and gambling space. People will look at a successful product and select a couple of features or mechanics they believe have driven the success. They then try to replicate it and fail miserably, only to then wonder why the strategy did not work for them. What they fail to analyze is the many failed games (for every success there are at least 8-10 failures) because they do not even know they exist. The failed games may have had more of the feature you are replicating. Getting a star like Kim Kardashian is a great idea if you only look at Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, but if you look at the hundreds of other IPs that have failed your course of action might be very different.

Survivorship bias can also lend its ugly head when building a VIP program. You talk to your VIPs and analyze their behavior, thus building a program that reinforces what they like about the game. What you neglect, however, is that other non-existent features might have created even more VIPs.

In the gambling space, you may look at a new blackjack variant that is doing great and build a strategy around creating new variants of classic games. What you did not see is all the games based on new variants that have failed.

Avoiding survivorship bias

Looking simply at successes, or even failures, leads to bad decision making. When looking at examples in your industry or other industries, you need to seek out both the successes and failures. With the failures, you need to make sure they are the failures (not the airplanes that returned shot up but the ones that were destroyed). You also should not use others successes or failures as a short cut to robust strategy decisions. You need to analyze the market, understand your strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats (SWOT) and do a blue ocean analysis. Only then will you build a strategy that optimizes your likelihood for success.

Key takeaways

  • In WW2, by analyzing surviving aircraft the US navy almost made a critical mistake in adding armor to future airplanes. The planes that returned were actually survivors, while it was the planes that were destroyed that showed where on the plane was the greatest need for new armor. This phenomenon is called survivorship bias.
  • This bias extends into the gaming and gambling space, as companies analyze what has worked in successful games but do not know if it also failed (perhaps to a greater degree) in products that no longer exist.
  • Rather than just looking at survivors or winners to drive your strategy, you should do a full SWOT and Blue Ocean analysis, that is the strongest long-term recipe to optimize your odds of success.

Univ of Illinois COVID Saliva Test Could Change the Game for K-12 Schools

Inside a tent outside the National Center for Supercomputing Applications on the University of Illinois campus, Uni High teacher Joel Beesley swiped his university ID card and was handed a small vial.

He drooled into the vial, and later in the day, he found out he had tested negative for COVID-19. The ability to take a quick, cheap test just blocks away from their school might just be the reason Uni High students will be able to return to the building sometime this fall.

Uni High will begin the year with remote learning, but it may eventually move to a hybrid model of in-person and online learning. To put it simply, the test developed down the street would be the only reason that’s possible.

“There’s no way we would even try to have hybrid school without the capacity to have weekly testing,” Uni High Director Elizabeth Majerus said. “The ease of testing is super valuable, not having to go far away. The fact that it’s very simple to do is very helpful.”

After the UI accomplishes its gargantuan goal of testing 10,000 students and faculty on campus every day this fall, its saliva test could theoretically offer a lifeline to K-12 schools in Champaign-Urbana and beyond.

Preliminary conversations about such a process began a few weeks ago. At the Champaign school board’s July 13 meeting, Superintendent Susan Zola said that UI chemistry Professor Martin Burke, one of the test’s originators, had reached out to her earlier that week to talk about a collaboration.

“They reached out, and we have some cabinet-level staff that are working with them,” Zola said the next day. “With a community that’s rich in resources and expertise and technology, we’re excited that we might be able to partner with the university on a very quick and efficient test that would give more data than we would normally have around teachers and staff if we were actually able to administer that kind of a test.”

To get to that point, though, won’t be simple.

To Anita Ung, who studied biostatistics and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, testing in elementary schools could be a game-changer for multiple reasons.

For one, it’s a way to democratize testing. Currently, test-positivity rates in Champaign County are much higher for Black and Hispanic residents than White ones. As of Thursday, 13.6 percent of tests taken by Hispanic residents and 4.2 percent of tests taken by Black residents came back positive. Test-positivity among White residents was 1.3 percent.

“If they had primary, free, easy access through schools, it would be a way to equalize the pandemic in our town,” Ung told the Champaign school board at that July 13 meeting. “By having widespread testing throughout schools, you guys will have infinitely more choices.” Teachers wary of going back to the classroom would suddenly have another line of defense.

“I think it would give (teachers and staff) confidence in lock-step with other safety measures, with other safety protocols being explicit,” said Mike Sitch, vice president of the Champaign Federation of Teachers union. “If we’re going to get a grip on the pandemic, we have to know where the disease is. And the only way to know where the disease is, is to test and monitor.

Implementing widespread testing in schools, though, likely won’t happen quickly.

UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said it’s too early to answer questions as to when the test might be available for broader community use. She did say, though, that the UI’s committee in charge of implementing testing is “working tirelessly to make it possible to share the test beyond our campus community as quickly as humanly possible.”

The test offers advantages that could make it viable for schools. Because it bypasses one of the most time-intensive steps in the normal testing process and doesn’t require the use of nasal swabs, it’s quicker and easier to administer. It’s also cheaper. A paper published by UI researchers estimated the cost at $10 per test, and that price could go down if pool testing is used.

Even if enough tests were manufactured, they need further regulatory approval before being used by the broader community. During an appearance July 20 in Urbana, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that’s something he and his staff are working on.

“We’re working very closely with the U of I to get that fast-track authorization from the FDA,” Pritzker said. “There’s still work being done on it, and they have to manufacture enough of these tests so that they’re widely available. I’ve talked to some of the best epidemiologists in the world, some of them right here in Illinois, and they say that these saliva tests have real promise. So I’m relying upon the science that U of I is doing along with epidemiologists, and that if we can do that, it helps us expand testing across the state even more than we’ve done.

“I have to say, so far, the evidence (on the efficacy of the test) seems pretty good, but there’s still a little bit to go.”

Of course, a situation like Champaign’s is far different from Uni High.

Tests would theoretically have to be delivered back and forth between all of its schools and a testing center if it plans to test students. And regular testing isn’t a reason to throw vigilance out the window cautioned Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde.

“I think U of I has been very amenable to all situations, but the logistics of testing every single schoolkid in the entire county, I don’t think anyone has addressed that yet,” Pryde said. “There are costs associated with that and there would be the logistics of getting it done and getting the samples out to the school.

“There’s certainly widespread testing available in our community, but these tests are only a point in time. You’re only saying that you’re not positive, and again, (nasal-swab tests) have a 20 percent false-negative rate, so you’re not even 100 percent sure saying you’re negative.”

For the beginning of the year, Champaign and Urbana schools will likely be left without in-school testing, although free testing is still available around town.

How the saliva test plays out on campus when students return to class on Aug. 24 will likely have a large hand in when and if the test is more widely distributed. While Champaign school board president Amy Armstrong said that collaborating with the UI is “a bridge to cross when we come to it” and still seemed far down the road, the upside could be tremendous.

“We could be a model,” Armstrong said. “We could provide data to the rest of the country.”

❖ ❖ ❖ ❖

Beesley hadn’t taken the nasal-swab test that’s offered around town, but he’s heard about the discomfort of sticking a swab deep into each nostril for 15 seconds.

The saliva test was painless.

“It was very simple and very well prepared,” he said, adding that he’s wary of false-negative results. “I would love to be able to be back in the classroom with the kids, and I hope this helps facilitate it.”

For children, the lack of a swab alone may make it possible to self-administer.

“It would be logistically impossible to swab (10,000) kids,” Ung said. “However, the cheaper tests, and one where kids can literally drool into a test tube, it’s way, way easier and totally in the realm of possibility.”

While it wouldn’t mean a return to packed hallways and interactive classrooms, a widespread, quick, accurate test for students could change the frame of mind for teachers and administrators. It could also allow more kids to return to school and more parents to get back to work.

For now, though, it’s still a theoretical solution as society struggles to inch back to normal.


Creativity may be what drives you to be innovative, but you’ll need to be brave as well.

This image is a graphic recording (or sketchnotes) I created from a brief talk by Trish Martinelli about the personal journey of starting to work in creative ways that leads to being a full-time innovator. It doesn’t matter what field you’re in, or the kind of work you do, it matters that you overcome both the “self-talk” of doubt that comes when you go against the tide and, perhaps even more importantly, when you can stand your ground to face un-tested opposition to your innovative work. Bravery is a key strength needed for innovators to use and for innovation to happen, particularly to counter resistance to change in business and in life. Design thinking may sound like a classroom exercise where cool heads prevail, but corporate politics can poison the smallest step towards something different. And shifting a culture through Change Management usually doesn’t sound like there are going to be more fun office parties, corporate swag or the latest portable device to make life wonderful for those below the C-Suite.

Whether or not your kind of innovation work isn’t a product or service, but involves changing a process, re-organizing a business, or changing the business culture, you most certainly will be challenged with questions as direct as, “Who authorized you to have ideas?” or other ways of creating an “US vs THEM” situation. Will you be pitted in the middle? Reframe the concept of being innovative as something that everyone has input and a stake in, so the ownership (and celebration of success) becomes, “We all though the world was flat, but look, together, we discovered it’s round!”.
Find your champions, allies and support. Be wary of bad blood you may cause by not considering the politics and culture you are working in and use emotional intelligence to address these situations, and stay brave, even if your idea fails. After all, the process of creativity doesn’t produce a masterpiece every time, but repeated efforts will exercise your strengths, test your bravery, and, with the right audience, right time and right venue, will change the game for all!

Graduation Ceremony for Singapore Elite Navy Dive Unit

TENSION hangs over a four-storey block in Sembawang Camp in the wee hours of a Monday morning, as 74 trainees of the 40th Combat Diver Course toss fitfully in their cabin beds.

At precisely 2.30am, Second Warrant Officer (2WO) S. Rajendren strikes a handheld grenade simulator known as a thunderflash and waves it into a shallow drain.

The blinding explosion galvanises other trainers, already in position. They pound on the wooden bunk doors, screaming unabatedly while tossing unguarded rucksacks and loose footwear down the corridors, sending befuddled trainees scrambling after them.

Drugged with sleep and sagging under the weight of their olive-green packs, the young men crawl down the stairs on all fours, spilling onto the concrete parade square like a colony of evicted egg-carrying ants, to a drenching welcome with fire hoses.

On cue, several trip flares burst into life, illuminating the chaos in a bright orange glow, casting grotesque caricatures of the disoriented men onto the walls of the building – a shadow play gone awry.

From a corner, a machine gun punctuates the cacophony with a shattering staccato that reverberates in the cool night air.

Standing on a platform above the maelstrom of swirling smoke and glistening rain in his dark blue instructor’s T-shirt and camouflage slacks, 2WO Rajendren is the man in charge of this mayhem.

Feared and respected in equal measure by the trainees, the training officer’s drills are their first taste of the long night ahead. “On your belly, on your feet, on your backs! Push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks in position, ready!”

The bewildered trainees are out of sync, unable to keep up with the impossibly quick commands belted through the megaphone slung from his shoulder.

Hawk-eyed instructors prowl the ranks, blasting banshee-like whistles and stabbing torch beams into the sodden jumble of limbs.Twenty minutes into the commotion, every trainee is soaked and utterly miserable. Although every one of them knows this moment must arrive, nothing can prepare them for the actual bedlam of “Breakout” – the opening act of the combat divers’ Team Building Week.

Held during the seventh week of the course, this naval diver’s rite of passage is better known as Hell Week. Five months earlier, 450 young men began this journey when they received posting orders to the Naval Underwater Medical Centre for a vocational assessment.

A battery of tests would ensure that only the finest physical specimens were selected.Within pristine confines, orderlies measured each man’s body fat and lung capacity, probed the integrity of his ear drums, wired him to an electrocardiograph to monitor his heartbeat, and then packed him into a pressure chamber sealed with double hatches to see if he could bear a simulated dive to a depth of 10m.

Still intact, each candidate then had to change into physical training attire to attempt his best scores in the standing broad jump and chin-up stations, strip to his trunks for a 25m swim, then present himself for a face-to-face interview with a senior instructor, usually a warrant officer with years of diving experience.

Here, any fears of the deep a candidate might have were put to rest, while his character and motivation were probed with questions such as: “Are you afraid of water?”, “What school co-curricular activities did you take part in?” and “Do you want to be a naval diver?”

The final stop of the day was a psychological assessment. The multiple-choice test involved a multitude of questions to determine if he would be able to cope with the stresses divers experience frequently on the job.

Those who cleared the selection moved on to nine weeks of Basic Military Training (BMT) modified to include pool training and an introduction to maritime culture with terms such as “port” and “starboard” replacing “left” and “right”.

Now, the numbers were whittled down again, as those who failed the water confidence and physical fitness standards were posted to other units.

Of the 450 initially called up, less than a quarter entered the five-month Combat Diver Course to learn military scuba diving and push their bodies to unprecedented levels of physical endurance.

Private Nigel Tan, a member of the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Scuba Diving Club before national service, felt both privileged and nervous when he received his posting letter.

“As a leisure diver, I followed a divemaster around and looked at fish,” says the 21-year-old electronic and computer engineering graduate. “Here, we have to carry heavy equipment, deal with low visibility and still complete a mission in a given timeframe.”

At the start of BMT, he could manage just two chin-ups; at the end, he was doing more than 20. “My body has toned up a lot,” he says.

With twin scuba tanks tipping the scales at 38kg and a rubber boat weighing twice as much, divers have plenty of heavy lifting to do. Weapons and special gear for each mission add to the load each man must carry.

To keep themselves in top shape, divers run, swim and work out up to three times a day and, unlike most other soldiers, are allowed to wear their physical training attire at all hours.

“It is the nature of the job,” explains 2WO Rajendren.

“A simple thing such as swimming underwater against a current takes a lot of strength; lifting objects and diving with equipment needs plenty of fitness. You need to be strong on land in order to be strong in water.”

Alongside the commandos, divers are among the fittest men in the armed forces, with nearly every one of them having earned a gold award in the SAF Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).

The IPPT holds commandos and divers to a higher standard than other soldiers, requiring full marks (5/5) in every station and a 2.4km run in less than 9min 15sec for a serviceman under the age of 25 to attain a gold award.

Other servicemen need just 4/5 points for each station and a run time of under 9min 45sec.

The result of so much exercise is that trainees end up supremely fit by the end of the Combat Diver Course, boasting perfect pectorals and a clearly defined six pack.

“The PT sessions were my favourite part of the course,” says Private Guo Jingyang, 21, who managed a count of 37 chin-ups at his best. “The instructors didn’t just conduct the PT, they did it together with us, even if they were 20 or 30 years older than us.”

All the physical training leads up to Hell Week. But unlike PT, where the focus is on building bodies, this week aims to train the mind by putting the trainees through extreme stress in order to identify the final list of combat divers.

“Team Building Week was definitely one of the toughest weeks I’ve been through,” says Pte Guo, who emerged top graduate of the course. “The pain was almost unbearable at times.”

Of those who started out in the 40th Combat Divers Course, only 74 are left at the start of Hell Week – the rest have dropped out along the way.

Three eight-hour shifts of instructors are needed to run the show, dishing out an intense and relentless slew of exercises called “evolutions”, each calibrated to take trainees to the brink of exhaustion.

Wet and Sandy; Cold Treatment; Around the World – the men know them all by name, but each evolution varies in the way it is conducted to keep them on their toes.

The most dreaded involves a black rubber dinghy called the Inflatable Boat – Small. Weighing 76kg when empty, the boats are made heavier when instructors throw in a large tyre or a few sandbags for good measure.

Overhead boat push-ups and boat tosses – where a crew of eight men throw the boat into the air and catch it on the way down – are feats that test the coordination of even the best teams.

To hoist one of these boats overhead takes careful choreography – a slip could result in the boat crashing to the ground, and punishment for the crew.

One spectacle that heralds every meal time is the Chow Run.

This is when the Hell Week cohort can be heard thundering around the parade square holding their boats overhead, earning their right to eat by running and belting out military songs for an average distance of 2km.

“Being under that boat is really painful,” recalls Private Marcus Nathan, 24, a former firefighter who was drawn to the challenge of becoming a regular combat diver during a navy exhibition.

“Your hands get tired, your shoulders become weak, your neck starts to hurt, and your legs are burning – but you have to keep going.”

Only when the instructors are satisfied with the run are the trainees lined up and hosed down for the sake of hygiene, then given 30 minutes to devour a plate of rice heaped with chicken, fish and vegetables, accompanied by a bowl of steaming soup and fruit.

Snacks, such as cake, doughnuts and chocolate bars, are added to the menu to give divers a total of 4,000 calories a day – 11/2 times the dietary allowance of ordinary SAF rations, but trainees are subjected to such intense physical activity during Team Building Week that most still lose weight at the end of the five days.

Through it all, they will sleep a total of just four hours.

“At first, I was too fired up to think about sleep,” recounts MID Guo. “But by the fourth day, we started to fall asleep when walking, when paddling the boat, even in the pool.”

This severe test of sleep deprivation prepares the men for real-world missions when divers may have to operate continuously for several days, says 2WO Rajendren. With their bedraggled green fatigues now brown with mud and dirt, the trainees stand at attention with their wooden boat paddles as the commander of the Naval Diving Unit, Colonel Tan Hong Teck, fixes them with a steely eye, his US Navy Seal badge sitting proudly above his right chest pocket.

“40th batch!” the beefy officer roars.

“Yes, sir!” the men thunder, their voices echoing around the parade square where fellow divers from all over the camp are lining the corridors of surrounding blocks to witness the sight.

“Are you tired?” he asks, knowing the answer to his own question.

“No, sir!” they thunder.

“Then go and get Wet and Sandy!” he bellows.

As one, the men sprint for the sea, plunge into the water, emerge and thrash about on the beach, knowing this might be the last time they have to endure this evolution.

Within minutes, they are once again lined up in front of their commander, dripping wet and encrusted in sand.

“40th batch!” he booms, raising a closed fist to quiet the desperately eager trainees. “I declare Hell Week secure.”

Pandemonium erupts as trip flares and machine guns go off, marking the end of the gruelling ritual. The parade-perfect contingent is now a throbbing mess of men – cheering, crying and hugging each other in their steaming, stinking, salt-marinated uniforms.

A line gradually forms as the smoke clears; senior commanders and instructors move down to shake each trainee’s hand in turn.

Heading back to the barracks, the trainees are applauded by passers-by. Even those driving by stop and roll down their windows to congratulate the new “HellWeekers”.

Despite having cleared the toughest week of the course, some will still fall out for medical reasons or for failing to meet the increasingly high physical fitness standards.

For Private Gabriel Ong, 22, learning that he did not pass the course was devastating.He was just one minute over the 27 minutes cut-off for the 6km run – one of five “vetoes” a trainee must pass in order to become a diver.

“When I was told that I could not continue the course while we were rehearsing for graduation, my heart sank,” he recounts. “Everything that I had trained for was shattered in that instant.”

There was no doubt that Pte Ong was fit – he attained a gold award for the IPPT – but that was not good enough. “I really wanted to be a diver,” he says wistfully. “It is different from the usual army life; it is fun, and it has prestige.”

For the remaining trainees, several more weeks of instruction in advanced diving techniques will follow Hell Week before the end of the Combat Diver Course, when mothers, fathers and girlfriends will pin the silver professional diver badge with a dark blue felt backing on the 69 men who made it.

But graduation is just the beginning of a frogman’s entry into the underwater elite.

Some full-time national servicemen who clear the course will join the navy’s Clearance Diving Group, where they will keep the waters around naval bases free from mines and other obstacles, perform maintenance work on ships such as the cleaning of propellers, and dispose of live munitions, usually war relics, found on the seabed.

Others will join the Underwater Demolitions Group, whose divers scout potential beach landing sites and remove underwater obstacles so friendly troops can go ashore.

A select few will be sent to Officer Cadet School and graduate nine months later as second lieutenants, ready to lead dive teams.

“In the Combat Diver Course, the biggest challenge for trainees is fulfilling all the vetoes in water competency,” says 2WO Rajendren, who has trained numerous divers in his 20-year career. “My greatest satisfaction is building up someone from nothing to becoming a fish in the water.”


Adapting customer experience in the time of coronavirus

Business group portrait taken from above.

n a short period of time, COVID-19 has overwhelmed lives and livelihoods around the globe. For vulnerable individuals and the customer teams that serve them, it has also forced a rethinking of what customer care means. Suddenly, examinations of customer journeys and satisfaction metrics to inform what customers want have given way to an acute urgency to address what they need.

Particularly in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty. As millions are furloughed and retreat into isolation, a primary barometer of their customer experience will be how the businesses they frequent and depend upon deliver experiences and service that meets their new needs with empathy, care and concern. Now is also the time for customer experience (CX) leaders to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behavior that result from this crisis. Keeping a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences and rapidly innovating to redesign journeys that matter to a very different context will be key.

Hand in hand with this perspective, four CX practices can frame short-term responses, build resilience, and prepare customer-forward companies for success in the days after coronavirus. They are: focusing on care and connection; meeting customers where they are today; reimagining CX for a post-COVID-19 world; and building capabilities for a fast-changing environment (Exhibit 1).

1. Focus on fundamentals: Care and connection

Now more than ever, people need extra information, guidance, and support to navigate a novel set of challenges, from keeping their families safe to helping their kids learn when schools are shut down. They want a resource they can trust, that can make them feel safe when everything seems uncertain, and that offers support when so much seems to be overwhelming. A baseline starting point: staying true to company values and purpose. Our research shows that 64 percent of customers choose to buy from socially responsible brands, a figure that has grown significantly in the past two years.1 The way organizations step up to play this role for their customers, their employees, and the broader community is likely to leave lasting memories in customers’ minds.

Care for your customers

The first step in caring is to reach out—not in marketing or overt attempts to gain a competitive edge, but to offer genuine support. Many organizations have already stepped up to care for their customers. For instance, Ford’s “Built to Lend a Hand” campaign outlines initiatives including payment relief and credit support. Budweiser redeployed $5 million usually spent on sports and entertainment marketing to the American Red Cross. When tens of thousands of college students needed to vacate their dormitories unexpectedly, a storage rental company offered 30 days of free self-storage. A credit-card company quickly recognized the pandemic’s financial burden and waived one month of interest on credit cards. Government officials have encouraged others to do the same. These experiences are critical for customers in the short term, and the impact will build positive relationships that are bound to last long after the crisis has ended.

Care for employees

In times of crisis, caring for customers starts with thinking first about employees. As any flight attendant would advise during the preflight safety briefing, it’s important to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Our research shows that 60 percent of Americans are very or extremely concerned about their safety and the safety of their families, while 43 percent are very or extremely concerned about their job or income—and not being able to make ends meet.2

Some companies have led with employees in mind during an unsettling period of uncertainty. In a video prepared for employees, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson transparently shared statistics on the company’s performance and outlook, announced pay cuts for himself and his executive team, and focused on a sense of hope in the future. Many companies have pledged to continue paying hourly workers at their regular rate, even if they need to remain at home due to illness, while others are still paying hourly workers despite store closures. For those still on the job, employers can provide new tools, training and support to enable employees to deliver superior customer experience in a new environment.

Care for the community

Today’s industry leaders have demonstrated that genuine care should extend beyond the immediate customer base. Italian companies have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to local hospitals and the Civil Protection Agency to combat the virus spread. Many are stepping up to the plate to manufacture important supplies. Luxury-goods companies have refitted cosmetics and perfume production to help produce hand sanitizer. Remote conferencing services companies, who are benefiting from the shift to virtual meetings, have provided free videoconferencing for K–12 schools.

2. Meet your customers where they are today

Customers’ normal patterns of life have come to a halt. Simple activities like a trip to the grocery store or dining out with friends are now difficult, risky, or even prohibited. Overnight, demand patterns have shifted. Overall online penetration in China increased by 15–20 percent.3 In Italy, e-commerce sales for consumer products rose by 81 percent in a single week, creating significant supply-chain bottlenecks.4 Customers need digital, at-home, and low-touch options. Digital-led experiences will continue to grow in popularity once the coronavirus is quelled, and companies that act quickly and innovate in their delivery model to help consumers navigate the pandemic safely and effectively will establish a strong advantage.

Accelerate digital options

Digital delivery has become a necessity for most customers who are confined at home. Adoption has grown strongly, even among the most “digitally resistant” customers. For some companies, the rapid development of digital functionalities is key to ensuring continuity of services. China-based Ping An Bank rolled out new “Do It At Home” functionality and received more than eight million page views and nearly 12 million transactions within half a month. Players in service industries have also accelerated digital value-added services like advice and education. Over 44,000 viewers tuned in to Bank of China’s first three online shows, where leading investment managers shared market insights, discussed the impact of the virus, and gave advice.

Other companies are making select digital services free to help existing customers and broaden their reach to new audiences. Fitness companies are deploying this strategy through extended free trials for their online and app-based classes, where app downloads and new sign ups have grown between 80 percent and more than 250 percent in recent months. It’s likely that many customers who have converted to digital services will stick to them after the immediate health crisis is over: Companies who make this shift to digital and deliver superior experiences have an opportunity to increase adoption and maintain these customer relationships after the crisis.

The way organizations deal with their customers, their employees, and the broader community in a crisis is likely to leave lasting memories in customers’ minds.

Bring your business to customers’ homes

Similarly, home delivery has gone from a convenience to a necessity: during this crisis, Italy has seen online grocery home-delivery users double between February and March.5 In China, Meituan, China’s premier food delivery service, reported quadrupled delivery orders in early 2020. Quick-service restaurants and aggregator apps are offering free delivery to capture share in this demand shift. Some fresh meal delivery start-ups have experienced a month-on-month demand boost of 25 percent and are experimenting with bulk versions of their offering. In the United States, home delivery options have expanded beyond food, as pharmacies offer extended free trials on their prescription delivery service, and car dealerships offer to pick up and drop off vehicles for repair and maintenance.

Make physical operations touch-free.

If part of the customer journey must exist in a physical channel, consider converting to contactless operations. The United States has seen a 20 percent increase in preference for contactless operations, with numerous industries adapting to this change. Meituan, which started as a food- and product-delivery service but evolved into a digital ecosystem player, was the first Chinese company to introduce contactless delivery in Wuhan.6 The service quickly became popular among all audiences, enabling Meituan to reach beyond its core millennial customer base—more than two thirds of new users are in their 40s and 50s. In the United States, Walgreens has rolled out a drive-through shopping experience. Customers order from a menu of available items such as household goods, medical supplies, and groceries. Store associates assemble and check out the order—all from the convenience of the drive-through window. Grocery chains have kept their physical stores open to shoppers but are adding touchless measures, including new installations of plexiglass “sneeze guards” at every cash register to protect customers and employees.

3. Reimagine customer experience for a post-COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 crisis will end at some point. We expect changes in consumer preferences and business models to outlast the immediate crisis. This has begun to play out in China, where there has been a 55 percent increase in consumers intending to permanently shift to online grocery shopping, and an increase of three to six percentage points in overall e-commerce penetration in the aftermath of COVID-19.7 Some consumers will be trying digital and remote experiences for the first time. In China, the share of consumers over the age of 45 using e-commerce increased by 27 percent from January to February 2020, according to Chinese market-research firm QuestMobile. Once they are acclimated to new digital or remote models, we expect some consumers to switch permanently or increase their usage, accelerating behavior shifts that were already underway before the crisis.

Further, once the public-health crisis has subsided, economic impacts will persist. Leading companies will deliver on the customer experiences that are emerging as most important in the “next normal,” while finding ways to save and self-fund.

Find savings without sacrificing experience

In a downturn, cutting costs is inevitable. But that does not have to come at the expense of a good customer experience, which can create substantial value (Exhibit 2). Often, the best ways to improve experience and efficiency at the same time are to increase digital self-service and to make smarter operational trade-offs, grounded in what matters most to customers. In industries like banking, digital servicing and sales are less expensive than branch- and phone-based approaches. The problem for many banks is that too few customers reach that point because they find digital channels unfamiliar and intimidating. Migrating customers to digital channels is often a successful way to boost savings and satisfaction. Teams can adopt this customer-centric mindset in any cost-cutting exercise, including migrating customers to self-serve channels, radically simplifying a product portfolio, or optimizing service-level agreements.

Reimagine your brick-and-mortar strategy

So far, 60 US retailers—representing $370 billion in annual sales and over 50,000 physical retail locations—have closed temporarily.8 The market capitalization of physical retail space has fallen by more than 35 percent.9 When stores reopen, the world of brick and mortar may be fundamentally different. More and more customers will have grown comfortable with digital, remote, and low-touch options, even in rural and older populations.

We expect to see the shuttering of underperforming stores. Retailers and consumer goods companies should plan now to capture this lost volume. Use mobile, online and geospatial data to optimize networks and omnichannel sales. Examine dynamics across digital channels, owned outlet stores, and wholesale partners. Companies should also re-examine the role that physical locations will play. Omnichannel fulfillment options such as buy online, pickup in store will increase. Some locations may be converted to “dark stores” for fulfillment only.

Finally, some existing stores may shift toward experience hubs that offer services and encourage purchase across all channels. Consider Nike’s store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. There customers, assisted by a personal coach, can try on shoes in various simulated sporting environments—including a basketball half-court, soccer trial field, and outdoor track—to determine their preferred product. As the forced isolation of coronavirus fades from view, this type of outlet may be a template that additional retailers will adopt.

4. Build capabilities for a fast-changing environment

Maintaining a strong customer experience in crisis requires rapid research to understand changing dynamics and new pain points as well as agile innovation to address them. Customer leaders who master that approach will create value for consumers in high-priority areas and in an environment of increased competition.Would you like to learn more about our Marketing & Sales Practice?

Keep a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences

Traditional customer insights techniques, such as surveys, often have an 18- to 24-day lag between launch and results readout. At a time when conditions can change from hour to hour, that can be far too long to deliver useful perspective. Companies should look to quick and novel ways to keep a pulse on consumer sentiment. In Italy alone, Facebook has seen a 40 to 50 percent increase in usage since the crisis began. A surge in online usage now underway offers opportunity to tap into insights from social media to rapidly understand consumer sentiment and develop new ideas. One Chinese rental-car company established a team focused on monitoring social media to identify real-time trends. In Shenzhen, where employees were asked to avoid using public transit, it rolled out a “rent five days, get one free” offer that allowed people to expense a weekday carpool for work and keep the car on Saturdays to run personal errands safely.

Listen to employees

Frontline employees are a company’s eyes and ears on the ground. Solicit and collect employee feedback: it will prove useful in gauging how customers are feeling and how daily interactions are changing. Sadly, this source of insights often goes largely overlooked—while 78 percent of frontline employees report that their leaders have made customer experience a top priority, nearly 60 percent say they believe that their ideas for improving that experience often go unheard.10 Tools and technology now exist to rapidly collect and aggregate real-time ideas and feedback from frontline employees. Investing in these can make a critical difference in the rapidly changing current environment.

Adopt agile innovation

The sooner that companies can fulfill new consumer needs during this time, the better off both will be. This often means accelerating time to market for new customer experiences, rapidly prototyping and iterating, and releasing innovations in their “minimum viable” state, rather than waiting to perfect them. Building agility across functions to handle changing customer circumstances is necessary and will have long-lasting benefits. Typically, test-and-scale labs allow companies to build new experiences with 50 percent reduction in speed to market. In addition to agile approaches, companies should rapidly examine their innovation pipeline to set priorities for new customer experiences that line up with remote, digital, or home delivery trends; these will likely continue to accelerate and differentiate CX providers in the post-COVID-19 world.

Finally, customer leaders shouldn’t take their eyes off of “failure modes” that can hurt if overlooked. When it comes to demonstrating care toward employees, make sure to double down on supporting employees—customers will notice and appreciate this as well. Don’t assume that customers will automatically migrate to existing digital and remote platforms. Rather, actively raise awareness and the internal capabilities needed to support adoption of these experiences. As for securing useful feedback, if the volume of customer insights and feedback from sources like social media and employees has not increased severalfold in an intense crisis environment, take it as a sign that you are missing critical insight needed to adapt experience.

Customer experience has taken on a new definition and dimension in the overwhelming challenge of COVID-19. Customer leaders who care and innovate during this crisis and anticipate how customers will change their habits will build stronger relationships that will endure well beyond the crisis’s passing.

Rachel Diebner is a consultant in McKinsey’s Dallas office, where Kelly Ungerman is a senior partner; Elizabeth Silliman is an associate partner in the Boston office; and Maxence Vancauwenberghe is a partner in the New York office.

The authors wish to thank Rebecca Messina, Robert Schiff, and Will Enger for their contributions to this article.

5 reasons why you’re probably procrastinating more right now

Many of us had high hopes at the beginning of quarantine. We’d read more books, tackle long-overdue home improvement projects, and make use of our now-free commuting time to get ahead at work.

But it hasn’t necessarily worked out that way. “People are realizing no, this isn’t the abundance of time and space we originally believed,” says Sarah Greenberg, a licensed psychotherapist and leadership coach. “Most of us are holding more than we’ve ever had before.”

Even small tasks, which seemed easily completed before, are feeling harder and harder to check off. Suddenly, minor, clerical tasks can feel like climbing a mountain, which, Greenberg explains, is related to a lack of “intrinsic motivation around them.”

So what hope is there for fighting procrastination as social distancing drags on? It comes down to figuring out why we procrastinate and how this common behavior fits into the current crisis environment.


Unsurprisingly, many of us are experiencing a high degree of stress right now, whether due to anxiety about the state of the world, social isolation, unemployment, additional caregiving responsibilities, and/or dealing with illness and loss.

These stressors can weigh on our minds and affect how well we balance each of these competitors to our attention. Preoccupation with what to expect next can also make you feel unsettled and distracted. “Stressors are heightened during the pandemic,” says Kaite Yang, an assistant professor of psychology at Stockton University. “[One] reason is uncertainty over employment and resulting financial hardship.”

For those fortunate enough to remain on the job or resume their once-furloughed positions, anxiety can still seep in and make productivity challenging. Oftentimes, this feeling of anxiety is a result of overestimating how many tasks we have the bandwidth to complete.

For a lot of people, anxiety feeds perfectionism. So, when it’s time to finally face a compounding pile of responsibilities, we avoid the slightest chance of messing up and delivering anything short of our best. “Procrastination can be a way to make that more concise choice, like, ‘No, I just really don’t have the energy for that right now,’” says Greenberg.

Finally, we’re dealing with many new distractions.”One reason we are procrastinating more is the number and variety of distractions in a home work environment—like homecare, childcare, other adults at home, [or using] improvised work spaces,” says Yang.


At the top of the workweek, many remote workers rouse themselves from a relatively banal weekend, make breakfast, and sit down at their kitchen table or home office to start work. All things considered, their commute to work is drastically cut down.

But while that may save time and hassle, a traditional commute can help with productivity, as it allows you to mentally prepare for work at the beginning of the day and then disengage from work in the evening.

Without these buffer periods, Greenberg explains, workers may struggle to find motivation and achieve work-life balance. “It’s easy to see how something as simple as a commute and location change could make a difference. In the office, we have all these things that set us up to do things properly, even if we don’t feel like it. When we’re away from the office and isolated, it can become a lot harder to ‘rev that engine.’”

In a virtual work setting, these signals, which represent bounds around a workday, are missing, and may promote sliding into procrastination or, on the other end, overworking and burning out. “The things we get in the workplace—some around habits and some around the environment—they counteract procrastination,” says Greenberg. “For the workday now, it’s really hard to have these on and off ramps.”


This abrupt shift to remote work did not occur in a vacuum. Amid the pandemic and national reckoning around race and police brutality, many people are reconsidering what they care about.

Anxiety is on the rise, making the demands of work feel secondary to the issues weighing on people’s minds. Workers may face decreased motivation when they consider what issues they want to prioritize now, especially in the absence of a clear path forward. “It’s difficult, come Monday morning, to have these tasks that don’t feel necessarily tied to the deeper purposes [and] themes in your life,” says Greenberg.


If you’re no longer going into an office, you may be experiencing diminished social connection. Yang points out that social relationships, especially at work, can be motivating. People run ideas by each other, or get inspired to tackle a new project. “Receiving feedback on your work—whether from colleagues or the work task itself—contributes to satisfaction and motivation,” she says. “We know that workplace social relationships impact feelings of belonging, identification, and satisfaction at work.”

Virtual interactions may feel stilted and less emotionally responsive than in-person interactions once were, leading people to look elsewhere in their lives to find value.


According to the American Psychology Association’s magazine, Monitor on Psychology, burnout consists of a combination of feelings, including exhaustion, cynicism, and detachment.  Workers “switch to doing the bare minimum instead of doing their very best.”

Moreover, employees who feel burnt out are more likely to switch employers and more often to take sick days. “Burnout impacts both our energy—making it hard to do much of anything—and our self-regulation. Procrastination can be a sign or outcome of burnout,” says Greenberg. This means, when we’re heading into a burnout zone, our reaction may be to avoid assignments we know are important.

Procrastination crops up when humans resist confronting what they perceive are bad endings. It becomes a strategy for humans to emotionally cope with a perceived threat.

Fortunately, if you’re a manager, you can help your employees fight burn out. First, connect with them by proactively checking in. Adam Goodman, director of Northwestern University’s Center for Leadership, says burnout can be remedied through a healthy discussion about life and work. In order to prevent burnout, it comes down to showing compassion and interest in your employees, no matter how small: “An easy starting place is having informal quick ‘connects’ on a weekly basis. They’re as simple as a quick hallway conversation, email, IM, or phone call.”

Diana Shy – https://www.fastcompany.com/90527143/5-reasons-why-youre-probably-procrastinating-more-right-now

Fires Continue on USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, and the third ship of the United States Navy to bear the name.[2] She was named in honor of John Paul Jones‘ famous frigate, which he had named in French “Good Man Richard”, in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the U.S. Ambassador to France at the time; “Richard” is derived from Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac.

The primary mission of Bonhomme Richard is to embark, deploy and land elements of a Marine landing force in amphibious assault operations by helicopter, landing craft and amphibious vehicle, and if needed, to act as a light aircraft carrier.

Bonhomme Richard is the flagship for Expeditionary Strike Group Three.[3] On 12 July 2020, a fire started in a lower deck while the ship was undergoing maintenance at Naval Base San Diego. Despite intensive efforts to extinguish the fire, the ship was still ablaze on 14 July 2020, with injuries to dozens of sailors and civilians being reported.