Back in March of this year, when beauty salons and barbershops began closing across Southern California due to COVID-19 (along with many other businesses), I found myself thinking of how I was going to get my two sons a haircut. Yes, there were many other (perhaps, more important) questions and uncertainties to be addressed as we began the pandemic, but to fully understand the haircut dilemma, you must first meet my 4 and 11 year old boys who have very thick, dark, wild, stubborn hair that grows by the second! Our pre-pandemic routine was haircuts every 2-3 weeks, so, how was I going to manage that level of upkeep with the closures and an unforeseen date for reopening?
It’s now been over half a year since the closures first began and as much as I’d like to tell you that I carelessly allowed my children to outgrow their hair like cavemen, I’m happy to report that I did indeed find a solution!
So, how did I solve my dilemma of the “COVID Haircuts,” as my kids like to refer to them? Needless to say, the solution was, of course, to cut their hair myself (although, they were not thrilled about this decision at first!) I had had zero practice or experience as a barber or hairdresser and could barely keep up with my own hair, for that matter. But, as cliché as it sounds, desperate times call for desperate measures.
I purchased a set of clippers, hair scissors, and a few other materials, watched a few YouTube tutorial videos, took a leap of faith, and dove right into it! The first round of haircuts were not terrible (my kids may say otherwise), but there was definitely a learning curve. With practice and patience, they no longer dread their biweekly “COVID haircuts” and my boys continue to be as handsome as ever!
As entertaining as my solution and trial runs were, it isn’t the solution that matters as much as the steps I took in finding one. I found these steps to also be very useful in coping with several other issues I’ve come across during these unprecedented times, and I believe they can also be useful for helping find solutions for organizational challenges that credit unions may be facing, or will face in the future.
Below are the steps I took in my thought process along with some thought-provoking questions and examples of a challenge that credit unions may have faced during those early months of the pandemic.
1. Seek Alternatives
Did your credit union temporarily close branches, call centers, or corporate offices due to the pandemic? If so, what alternatives were available for conducting essential business activities and servicing members? While remote work may have been far-fetched earlier this year, many organizations were forced to quickly look to this alternative as the solution. What other alternatives existed, were layoffs or furloughing of employees an option?
2. Acquire Equipment as Needed
In deciding that I would perform my sons’ haircuts myself, I needed to make sure I was well equipped for the challenge, therefore, I purchased clippers, scissors, and a few other items. If transitioning employees into a remote environment was a solution or response to the pandemic, what other equipment, if any, were needed? Did different business units require the same equipment, i.e. Call Center versus the Accounting team? Additionally, were there limitations or setbacks in obtaining additional equipment?
3. Learn New Skills
Although I would not recommend looking to YouTube for learning new skills related to overcoming organizational challenges, YouTube tutorials certainly helped me in learning how to cut my sons’ hair. Does your organization promote a learning environment? What resources do employees have for learning new skills? What skills needed to be learned, if any, in transitioning to a remote work environment, i.e. time management and/or organizational skills?
4. Lower Standards
Excuse me?! Yes, you read this one right. The lowering of standards may not be a popular opinion as we tend to get accustomed to reaching a certain level of performance or results, but in times when our capabilities and resources are perhaps, subpar, how can we expect the same level of outcome?
5. Take a Leap of Faith
Sometimes a leap of faith is needed, especially when doing the unthinkable or unplanned for. Some preconceived ideas about remote work may have been that productivity would decline or employees would have many distractions at home, such as children or other responsibilities. Having trust in employees, colleagues or coworkers is essential in a remote environment, after all, organizations function with the help of multiple people and teams.
6. Measure & Adjust
Did the solution work? Was the outcome as expected? What could be learned from this experience? Were there other findings or additional insights? In adjusting to becoming my sons’ personal hairdresser and realizing what a cost savings that is, it leaves me to question whether or not we will resume our “normal,” post-pandemic routine.
Becoming accustomed to the way “we’ve always done things” can oftentimes lead to complacency and deter people and organizations from attempting alternative solutions. In my opinion, we should always be avid, life-long learners in order to remain adaptive in our ever-evolving environments. Although the pandemic forced many of us to think outside of the box (who would have guessed I’d actually be a decent hairdresser?), it is important that we as credit unions remain cognizant of the evolving needs of our environments and our members. Remaining cognizant and nimble will be the deciding factor of our outcomes in unprecedented times, such as the one we are currently in.