Pulse May / June 2022 | Page 14



CELEBRATED TALENT STRATEGIST AND LEADERSHIP EXPERT Rita Barreto will address 2022 ISPA Conference attendees at a time when staffing challenges have never been more pressing for the spa industry . In advance of her session , titled “ Reinventing Talent Acquisition and Retention Strategies ,” Rita spoke with Pulse about recent shifts in the talent landscape and how spa leaders can adapt .




Pulse : You come from a big family . How has that experience informed the work you do with organizations , leaders and their teams ? RITA BARRETO : I feel so blessed to have grown up in a household of 14 people — a grandmother , two parents and 11 kids . My father ’ s side could speak Spanish , and my mother ’ s side spoke French , so at a young age I was introduced to multiple cultures and a kaleidoscope of people . The whole experience of growing up in that controlled chaos led me to work in the field of talent , and helped me relate to people who are different . It ’ s been very beneficial to me .
I also learned a lot about teamwork . We had good “ coaches ”— my parents and my grandmother — who always encouraged us . You can imagine how it was at dinner time — it was rare that we all sat down at the same time , but my parents would always make at least three of
us sit down together , and we couldn ’ t have the TV on . We had to talk to each other ; we had to share experiences , and when someone was having a hard time , we had to help them out , so there were a lot of lessons about teamwork and setting goals . We talk about this a lot as siblings , how all of us were made to feel special , even in that crowd . What a lesson for leaders ! When you have a team like that , take time to not only give feedback when things aren ’ t going well , but be that coach that encourages somebody . I had wonderful role models in that way .
P : Speaking of lessons for leaders : Have the characteristics organizations traditionally look for in leaders changed because of the events of the last two years ? B : Absolutely . There ’ s no question that they have changed . When you look at leadership historically , it was the “ command and control ” model : What I know and you don ’ t makes me very smart as a leader . Then , we went through the quality movement and leaders were much more aware that it was smart on their part to get people who were better than them to work for them , people who had diverse skills to complement their skills .
Leaders today have to be focused on the whole person , including their mental health . They have to be focused on being much more agile and making sure that they recognize the individuality of individuals . It ’ s all about being very empathetic — I think that ’ s probably the biggest thing to come out of COVID is people have realized that everybody is in a different situation , and everybody has different challenges . A leader needs to be in tune with not only the person , their productivity and what they ’ re doing but also the mental health of that individual . Leaders are going to have to learn to become much more aware of
12 PULSE • MAY / JUNE 2022