COVID-19, remote work, and a two-million dollar stimulus bill. Who would have imagined that this is where we would be in 2020? The uncertainty and devastation of this health crises has transformed the way we do business. Just as factories have converted their equipment to create medical masks and distilleries have changed their processes to produce sanitizer, learning and development within the financial space was forced to adapt to the changing environment and continue to provide strategies and support in the face of uncertainty
At Honor Credit Union we are conscientious of the impact that the events of 2020 have had on our members and the communities we serve. Our action was swift to ensure the safety of our team and our members without loss of service. We leveraged our digital channels to ensure that our members would have full access to their accounts and the services they need to conduct regular business.
From a training perspective, we went from having the option to use traditional learning techniques to one that is a 100 percent virtual environment. Prior to the pandemic our organization invested in supporting on-demand and a virtual instructor-led training (VILT) initiative. This head start allowed us to focus on maximizing our strategic engagement and adapt the training curriculum to offer real-time support. This created a unique opportunity for our department to strategize with team members about solutions to fit their immediate need.
Several of the immediate needs included:
Communication and Alignment: With the pace that information was being shared in the news, our vice president of marketing, Stacey Dodson, decided to take a proactive approach. “We decided at the very beginning to provide our team members with daily updates to keep everyone connected and in the loop. Clear communication is key during any transition, and it is especially critical in a rapidly changing environment. Each member of our team receives a daily update delivered to their email inbox, Monday through Friday, with timely information including updated policies and procedures (in compliance with government guidelines), creative solutions and services to help our members, best practices for remote workers, and new ways to connect to each other. An informed team is an effective team.”
Agility and Ambiguity: We have an amazing team with diverse backgrounds and many who have held several roles across the organization. This allowed us to assess our people beyond their job descriptions and identify their strengths to help support critical functions.
Leverage Technology: The majority of our supporting roles transitioned to a remote working environment. This created the need to ensure that they had the necessary technology to support this as well as the best practices to build continuity. To assist with this, we focused on the key areas listed below and customized the expectations to ensure they aligned with our culture:
- leading remote teams
- virtual meeting best practices
- tips for effectively working remotely.
These focus areas helped create consistency and clearly outline measures to help our team be successful. Always wear pants and, as John Acuff would say, avoid wearing flannel. It’s basically the serotonin of remote attire.
Connection and Support: We’re all facing challenges but maintaining the human element of connection and support is vital to maintaining the sense of community and security we all crave. Acknowledge the uncertainty and never underestimate the value of just checking in with your team to see how they are doing.
One example that I love is when our vice president of human resources scheduled a virtual happy hour with her team to help break up the monotony and pull us out of the quarantine routine. Our culture is one that you can expect to see a pet pop in to say hi on virtual call. This type of relaxed understanding is infectious and help to remove potential added stress.
I typically describe my role within talent development as being like a Swiss Army knife—each day presents new challenges, opportunities, and the ability to create exciting outcomes. This pandemic has reinforced this analogy and has forced all of us to re-evaluate the way we engage our learners and the organizations we serve. One thing that I know about learning and development professionals is that they are resilient, and they thrive on the ability navigate across the organization. They have a breadth of knowledge and are willing to roll up their sleeves to get the job done. This infectious tenacity is why we love the organized chaos of helping to lead effective change efforts and leading development within our organizations.