Lincoln Absence Advisor

Staying Connected

April 28, 2020 Lincoln Financial Group Season 1 Episode 9
Lincoln Absence Advisor
Staying Connected
Chapters
Lincoln Absence Advisor
Staying Connected
Apr 28, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
Lincoln Financial Group

There’s a lot of talk about how to stay connected to our friends and family while we stay at home – but it’s just as important to stay connected to business colleagues. In this podcast, we explore not just how to stay in touch, but also how to create new ways to interact and strengthen our business relationships.  Staying in touch is a different challenge for each person – some may be adept at technology and use it to its fullest extent to reach out and work collaboratively with their team. Others may not be as technologically savvy. And of course, online meetings now often involve kids or pets running around in the background – a different atmosphere than most businesses are used to, and one that actually helps people get to know more about their colleagues, find common interests, and strengthen bonds when they are back in the office environment again. 

LCN-3060179-042720 

© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Show Notes Transcript

There’s a lot of talk about how to stay connected to our friends and family while we stay at home – but it’s just as important to stay connected to business colleagues. In this podcast, we explore not just how to stay in touch, but also how to create new ways to interact and strengthen our business relationships.  Staying in touch is a different challenge for each person – some may be adept at technology and use it to its fullest extent to reach out and work collaboratively with their team. Others may not be as technologically savvy. And of course, online meetings now often involve kids or pets running around in the background – a different atmosphere than most businesses are used to, and one that actually helps people get to know more about their colleagues, find common interests, and strengthen bonds when they are back in the office environment again. 

LCN-3060179-042720 

© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Chris Takesian:

Hi listeners, my name is Chris Takesian, Marketing Manager for Leaving Disability at Lincoln Financial. Many of us have had to adapt our work styles to fit this new environment as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This has included not only how we work, but where we work as well. Working from home can provide many conveniences, but how do we stay connected? In this time of social distancing, not having those daily in-person encounters we are so used to can pose a challenge for many of us. The question remains how do we foster business relationships in a virtual environment? To talk more about creative ways to stay connected during this time, we're joined by two of my colleagues at Lincoln financial, Ashley Cader, Vice President of Innovation, Customer Experience and Voice of the Customer and Erin Melhuish Innovation Consultant of the Ideation team. Thank you both so much for joining me.

Ashley Cader:

Thanks for having us.

Erin Melhuish:

Yeah, Chris, thanks for having us.

Chris Takesian:

So a lot has been published about the importance of staying connected during this time from a personal perspective, but not as much from a business perspective. From your experience. Can you talk about the importance and benefits of staying connected from a business perspective?

Erin Melhuish:

Sure. So I think staying connected is a crucial element really to ensure business continuity in this very uncertain time. So from an internal perspective, keeping teams working together in a collaborative fashion is important to a chore. You know, we're all focused on meeting our collective goals. I think that with the impact of COVID causing so many people to feel like they're no longer in the driver's seat, right? Like they're not in control of this situation. Having that clarity and having the ability to make decisions and be in control of our own work destiny is something I feel, you know, a lot of people are finding as like a positive distraction and really a way to kind of fulfill that inherent human need.

Ashley Cader:

Yeah. Erin, I want to go back to something you said because it really struck me, which is we're human. As human beings, we're very social creatures and I think during COVID, um, many people have been sort of forced into situations where they've lost that social connection. And I think that the ability to create new ways of interacting with one another, whether it's through technology, whether it's through a phone call, a digital interface, video chats, what have you, those are really great ways of not only building a connection but sort of facilitating a deeper trust, um, that, that type of communication in genders. And then that can also translate to improve business results too.

Chris Takesian:

Yeah. Ashley, and that's well said. Jumping into your experience being on the innovation team. I know your team is known to approach a problem by thinking outside the box. Can you talk about how this is done? Maybe some tips you both use to find a potential solution for challenges like staying connected?

Erin Melhuish:

Sure. So, you know, I think one of the most important factors really in effectively tackling a problem is first be sure that you're solving the right problem. So in our work we dive deep, not only, you know, in understanding what the problem is, but understand why the problem exists and the why is often really best uncovered by focusing on that human element. Um, and leveraging things like, you know, showing empathy to really understand what a person is feeling and what's causing them to, you know, be experiencing the said problem. We also can never assume that there's like a one size fits all solution is as everybody has different needs, right? The needs for somebody, you know, who right now was used to going into the office, having that team camaraderie, um, you know, spending eight hours of the day with their group and kind of really being heads down, focused on work.

Erin Melhuish:

Um, you know, switching somebody from that scenario to like now being at home with your husband and your children or somebody who has gone from that team environment of the office to being home now alone. You know, it, it's a very different situation. I mean the root cause obviously of, you know, in this scenario being COVID causing us to have to change up how we work. The experience though from that based on our own personal lives and situations really does cause us, you know, kind of like the, the solutions to be different. Um, so I think really being able to understand what those unique needs are of people is really important to all of our work. Um, it really being able to solve for like the diversity of needs, you know, that's key. Um, you know, so, you know, I think about it, you know, from our own perspective and from like, from my perspective, I also look at, you know, in, in today's situation it's important to understand some of the different personas, right?

Erin Melhuish:

So there's people out there who have technology, they're able to use zoom videos. But for example, like I think about my father in law who has still like a flip phone. He doesn't have a smart, um, he only uses it for an emergency. It's not even charged or on half the time. Um, he's not technology savvy. He doesn't have a trust in technology and you know, he's by himself. Um, and so we were trying to think of ways, how do you supplement, you know, some of that human interaction for somebody who doesn't have technology, where zoom is great for all of us or some of the other virtual tools. But what if somebody doesn't have that? So, you know, we kind of, our own family had to think outside of the box and we've been going over for our quote unquote Sunday visits, which now is very different.

Erin Melhuish:

I mean he's doesn't allow us within the house, but we pull up in our, you know, SUV pop, the hatch, all of us sit in the back and he sits on his front porch and we, you know, safely have human interaction, quote unquote, you know, from a safe distance. Um, with our, with my husband's father and my children's grandfather. So, you know, it's, it's looking for the best case scenario methods I would say for how to kind of supplement or even replace some of the, the normal, um, ways that we've gone about our lives, um, in order to really keep us connected.

Chris Takesian:

Yeah, absolutely.

Ashley Cader:

Yeah. And one of the other things that I would add there is within innovation, um, stories are key. And Erin really hit on the point about every, every individual is their own human being with their own sort of background.

Speaker 2:

You may know some pieces that you may not, I think COVID-19 has sort of exposed many of us to more facets of each of our colleagues. I know mine certainly get a look into the craziness that is my household with, you know, multiple different running around during the day. So they get a different flavor than maybe they had before. When it was just me, um, frankly working from home. But I think it's that story piece and the more that we can understand all of the different stories that make up one human being and then layer on all those different stories of different human beings, you start to build a very unique perspective that helps you to think about things in a different way. And one of the really great things that, um, you know, our team actually did to stay connected prior to Hoban 19, because we were very much a remote team to begin with.

Ashley Cader:

It's something called the hive. It is an, the idea behind it was to bring all of the different experiences, expertise that each of us had because of all of the different jobs that we've done in the past and the different educational experiences that we've had and bring those together to build up each other by sharing that through a very dynamic type of experience through remote channels. Um, and so we were able to leverage each, each session with something different. So we might be learning about, um, how to draw on a digital tablet and playing Pictionary, you know, in four or five different States as a means of, of better exploring that skillset. Um, or we might look to understand, you know, someone's prior life as a IP attorney and what they can teach us, what we can learn and apply now to the innovation space and while we were working on.

Ashley Cader:

And so that's been a great way to really look at what you have available, think about, you know, the skillsets that, that are sort of around think outside of just the jobs that you've done or the job you do today. Because everyone has really unique backgrounds and histories that they can draw from and then pull that together in a way that makes use of the tool set that you have at your disposal. Sometimes it's digital, but sometimes it might be something more, you know, more of an analog experience that that still can bridge that divide and create that social experience.

Chris Takesian:

Yeah, definitely think that that it would be super valuable and something that a lot of teams could leverage no matter what business you're in. Um, I think getting all the minds together and learning something new together, uh, is definitely a way to build a really involved environment.

Chris Takesian:

Going back a few weeks and what really inspired, uh, this episode In fact. There was a challenge posed to our team. We were asked to think about creative ways to stay connected during this period of social distancing and working from home. And I was so intrigued by the lists that your team put together, uh, wondering if you could share your top ideas with us and how someone may go about implementing these into their day to day business practices?

Ashley Cader:

So I would say one of my favorite things is, um, again, that aspect of learning about somebody else now that you see them in a completely different environment. So for me, it's the office tour. It's the ability to say, you know, show me where you're working. And, and I, I actually, because I worked for home, I do have my own office and typically behind me you'll see sort of a wall of books, but now COVID-19 and everybody being home, that actually hasn't been where I've been doing most of my work. I have to be mobile and be able to respond to, you know, a couple of toddlers running around or my four year old wanting something. So sometime you might find me sitting at the kitchen counter on a stool. Other times, you know, I might be in my basement playroom trying to make sure that no one's killing each other. So, you know, so people very much get a tour of my various working stations. And so seeing where others are at, um, and seeing what might be really important or special to them that you know, behind them as they give us a video view into their world has been really unique for me.

Chris Takesian:

Yeah, absolutely. And I would just comment on that, that you probably learn more about that person too, right? You, when you're in the office, you really only get one view of them. It might be more one dimensional, but getting to see where they work and how they work from home, uh, you know, whether it's kids running in the background kind of gives you a really 360 view of that person getting to know them better, I think that's awesome.

Ashley Cader:

I agree 100%

Chris Takesian:

Areare there suggestions or strategies that folks can use to develop or implement their own plans when it comes to fostering connections in a non-face-to-face manner even when they get back into the office?

Ashley Cader:

Yeah, I mean I think Chris, it really depends on customizing it to the team and the group. So you really have to understand what's important to those that are on your team. If they are a very, you know, visual group, you might want to think about different activities or ways of engaging with that, um, that type of perspective versus if you've got someone that really uses their sense of taste as an example, you might start to structure ways to engage and take some time away from the office together. Maybe you, you create sort of a competition to taste all of the burgers around office and determine, right? So you can get creative, um, if you understand what is meaningful to those around you and then structuring it that way. So it takes a little bit of creativity, but more importantly it takes getting to know your colleagues, your coworkers.

Ashley Cader:

And I think this situation has certainly enabled us to get to know everyone a lot better than we might have done anyways. And I think it's really just about building on that foundation as you think about moving back into the office when we can do that.

Erin Melhuish:

Yeah, I agree with what Ashley said and I think, you know, one of the key things and one of the really interesting opportunities that when we look to you know, come up with you it new and unique ways to really connect with people is, you know, by bringing people into our homes, right? Every day as we're on, you know, web calls and things like that, people have seen, you know, that there is more to just the work persona that we all present. And I also, you know, I also think that if you can find that common thread would, you may not know exists, right?

Erin Melhuish:

Like Chris, I know you're an avid golfer. Um, I cannot golf, but if others aren't as familiar with you and what some of your, you know, hobbies are and things that really bring you joy, you know, maybe by working, working from home, you could be on a web call and someone could see like trophies behind you, pictures of like the masters and things like that and realize like, Hey Chris, I never knew you were an avid golfer. Like, let's go golf sometime or something like that. So it's, it's really, I think just opening up opportunities to really find those common threads. And I think it'll be interesting to see how this changes, just how, by having some of those insights into, you know, more of the whole person, um, through us being apart, which I think is a really interesting element there. You know, knowing that and learning that about each other when we come back together, what's that going to be like?

Erin Melhuish:

You know, what will some of those work relationships be like, will they be stronger? Will they be different? Will we be more apt to, you know, engage with these, with each other outside of work? Um, so I think, you know, in some ways, while it's been really hard for us to all be apart and having to social distance, I'm hopeful that as we come back together, we'll come back together, you know, stronger and more connected.

Ashley Cader:

I don't disagree with anything that Erin has said, but I would caution everyone. I think there's this big desire for us to, to get back to whatever the new normal is. But I think many of our friends and colleagues might be personally impacted by this situation. And so we have to factor in the whole person when we're ready to move back into an office environment because while there are many things that people may share with us, there may be, you know, key pieces that we may not know. We may not know how many individuals personally, you know, had the illness or had family or friends that had the illness or, or even passed away from it. So we just have to be sensitive to that whole person and make sure that, you know, we've, we've built in a, a deeper compassion, um, and we're, we're putting that human front and center, um, when we're ready to make that, that move again.

Chris Takesian:

Well I think with that, I just want to thank you both so much for taking the time to talk with me about staying connected. Um, it's really been a pleasure.

Erin Melhuish:

Thanks Chris for having us. We appreciate it.

Ashley Cader:

Yeah, thanks Chris. Really appreciate it.

Chris Takesian:

To everyone listening, thank you for joining us. We will continue to cover topics that help employers and their employees through this new environment, so be sure to subscribe to Lincoln Absence Advisor on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Disclosure:

Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation and its affiliates, the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lincoln Life and Annuity Company of New York, Syracuse, New York, and Lincoln Life Insurance Company of Boston, Dover. New Hampshire affiliates are separately responsible for their own financial and contractual obligations.