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You Can’t Shake Hands In Cyberspace

Originally published on CUInsight.com

You’re expecting another, “back in the days before COVID-19” reminiscing post. Too bad. This topic came to me years ago. You know, BC…Before Coronavirus. Yes, that time really did exist. It’s not just a dream.

Why mention the time frame?

Because it helps you understand that some of today’s challenges aren’t new. For many, remote work is our normal. In fact, getting to meet people IRL (in real life) was a special treat! In case it’s not obvious, the “our” here is me. I work remotely.

Take a look at some of my event posts to feel the excitement of being around other people. Yes, even for this introvert.

What’s Changed?

Ha! What hasn’t changed? Amirite? There’s no minimizing the enormous impact that-virus-which-shall-not-be-named has on society and business. Many, if not all of us, had to adapt to rapidly-changing norms and precautions.

When in-person became “no way”, those who could and weren’t already took shelter online. You joined us on Zoom, a platform we’ve been accustomed to for years. It’s like we’re innovators. Ok, not the way to blaze new paths. You’re welcome here as long as you need.

What Hasn’t Changed?

People Working
Who’s craving this?

People want to interact with other people.

In fact, maybe that’s changed too, because in our physical isolation, the desire to connect is even higher. Either way, for some things, there’s no replacement for an in-person experience.

At the same time, the concepts of digital transformation charge onward. Sure, it meant moving faster than you ever thought possible, but you did that because you’re awesome. Now, it’s time to think about the why. “Why did we need to implement these digital solutions?”

Yes, an unprecedented global event happened. I suppose we can’t really ignore it. At the same time, it forced an acceptance of where things are moving. Tasks which can be made easier and more convenient by using an app or website…should.

This is a golden time to look at what parts of your operation should be driven by human interactions and which can improve with digital ones. Naturally, there will be overlap, but that awareness can help guide your planning strategy, no matter what crazy events transpire.

Digital transformation doesn’t mean making everything digital. It means evolving to provide the best service, experience, and human connection with the right tools in the right ways. At your core, you’re a bunch of people working to help lots more people.

How to Adapt?

Chameleon
Get it? Adapt?

To be honest, the hardest part is the human element. Sharing data or other forms of information (interactive charts, whiteboard, etc.) is actually easiest on a platform like Zoom. Cue that time your whole team struggled to load a file off a USB drive for the meeting.

Digital stuff works great on these services. Cloud-based sharing makes secure and simple transfers possible. No more wondering if that computer’s USB ports are disabled, or if this browser is allowed to load Dropbox. Or if your emails went to spam.

Where we struggle most, and I bet you also, are the casual interactions. For all the love I have for great Zoom happy hours, you know it’s not the same as actually meeting up. As of now, no tech can replace that experience (I’m looking at you, future Apple AR Glasses).

There’s real value to meeting in person, even if we’re wearing masks. Since that’s not a feasible or potentially safe option for many people, here’s some suggestions on comfortably embracing video chat (with qualifications).

Make Video Chat Awesome (Or at least better) For Your Team

Woman with Mask on Video Chat
Good thing…you don’t have to go to this extreme.
  • Help equip your team with good cameras, lighting, and mounts/stands for their cameras (Trust me, being well-angled and lit makes such a difference both for you and other’s confidence)
  • Recognize that you can’t look people in the eye while looking them in the eye (even if it looks that way)
  • Make it ok to mute or turn off video during conversations. It’s like casually looking away in-person; not a bad thing. If someone stares you in the eyes constantly in-person, it’s uncomfortable.
  • Don’t force video chats to be “casual”. It feels weird. Empower your team to set up one-on-one or group conversations in the same vein as they would just meet up in the kitchen or hallway. Business meetings match your culture now as before.
  • Of course, also…use it like kids in remote schooling; to let your team express themselves and show off (if they want) part of what makes them happy. (Every kid wants to share their toys, bedroom, and walk the class through their house.)
  • Sometimes, audio is enough. Just because you can use video doesn’t mean you must. Recognize the potential for personal intrusion it has over audio-only.

Staring Isn’t Caring

The bottom line on keeping team engagement going is to help it be as close to organic as it would be in an office. And you can carry this over to members as well!

For member interactions which previously happened in-person, provide the option for them to use a video chat. Offer a simple video guide on your app or website to get them going. Sure, this is a rip-off of your ITM video tellers, but members don’t have to go somewhere.

See? That you already have or are considering them means you’re on your digital transformation journey! We’ll make it all as good as in-person, you just watch!

Except for that shaking hands thing.

After Coronavirus, Normal Is Forever Changed [Video]

You’re looking forward to getting back to normal. I get it. The change we’ve all had to endure is immense. It’s thrown us all off our game. It’s tossed a bowling ball into our Jenga tower of perceived normal.

And just like that toppled tower of wooden bricks, normal will reassemble itself different than what you remember.

That’s ok. So long as you’re ready and prepared. Here’s a hint: “Digital transformation” is a thing you need to do now. Before Coronavirus (BC, again?), you could get away with slow transitions. Now? No longer.

People experienced remote work. They used digital platforms. We saw highways empty during rush hour. Many of those missing cars belong to people now at home, doing the same work, without the commute.

From my house to yours, let’s help those who need it (they’ll be a lot) and work together to bring the new normal into view.

Turn on captions if your device is muted.

Shifting Baselines & Your Credit Union

Originally published on CUInsight.com.

Ever visit someplace from childhood and think, “wow, I remember it being bigger”? Go back a few times or ask your kids (who are there for the first time) and all seems normal. You’ve just experienced Shifting Baselines.

It’s All In Perceptions

Think of it as a change in the perception of normal. I’m not talking about how your impeccable teenage styles seem ridiculous now. Let’s be honest, flower headbands will always be cool (as will bow ties). This is about one person’s standard becoming another’s outlier.

You may not be familiar with the term, and that’s ok. I’ve only seen it used when discussing environmental change. Even then, only in the oceans; fish size, abundance, and all.

But you’re in luck! I happen to have a background in ocean policy and marine science. It’ll come back around to credit unions, I promise.

The Salty Dog & New Fisherman

Let’s paint a scenario so everyone can grasp Shifting Baselines. We have two fishermen: one, an old salty dog, another freshly joining the industry. The former sings shanties of days gone by, the latter just waits for their first day on the water. Here’s where the trouble begins:

  • Our salty dog (lifelong fisherman) considers a “big fish” 150 lbs. and a “good” catch 1,000 lbs.
  • The newbie (no prior experience in area) is excited to reel in a “big fish” weighing 50 lbs. and sails home with a “good” catch netting (forgive the pun) 400 lbs.

Do you see the issue? What is great for one is ruin for the other. However, the new fisherman has no memory of the “better days” and instead considers their first day the norm. When our salty dog leaves the industry, their standard and memory goes with them.

Things Got Worse. No One Noticed.

Moving forward, smaller fish and fewer of them is expected (without ever realizing the loss). Yet we know the past really was brighter. In fact, who’s to say our old fisherman wasn’t reminiscing over already diminished catches? Maybe their elders sang of even larger fish!

Shifting Baselines In Your Credit Union

Are you suffering from Shifting Baselines in your credit union? Take the opportunity to speak with your longest-serving staff, board members, and even members. Get their take on how the institution has evolved. Are the new normals for the better?

Within the marine realm, Shifting Baselines almost always represent a loss. Does your credit union share the trend, or has the baseline improved?

If I walked in to your branch, my standard would begin at that moment. If compared to a member from 50 years ago, would I be pleasantly surprised or disappointed?

Do you have stories from your credit union’s “old salts”? Share them here or with me on Twitter at @JoeCUGeek.

For more information on how Shifting Baselines applies to our oceans, visit Smithsonian Ocean Portal.

Image credit: Me

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