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HR Answers: Google+ Hangouts


March 2014 – Vol: 37 No. 3
by Terry L. Brock

Credit Union Young Leaders of Manitoba experiment with free, Web-based video conference to provide networking and staff development.

March 4, 2014

Credit Union Management’s online “HR Answers” column runs the first Tuesday of the month.

Recently I had a wonderful experience helping credit unions throughout Manitoba to experience a new technology that helped them engage members and staff in a powerful, productive way. The tool we used is called Google+ Hangouts. This is the same Google you know and use for search.

Background

Credit Union Young Leaders of Manitoba is a group of credit union employees throughout the province of Manitoba who organize for the purpose of sharing information and growing the credit union movement.

The group has regular meetings both physically and over various technologies. These technologies in the past have included traditional teleconferencing and the use of webinars through WebEx. As an outside consultant, I introduced them to a different technology that does a lot more and is free! It's hard to beat the price of free!

Initially, there were the natural and reasonable questions about using a new technology, particularly within a financial institution. Credit unions are traditionally very cautious and conservative when it comes to issues that could relate to security, as they should be.

There were questions in several areas, including security, ease of implementation, a learning curve, and familiarity with previous technology. Each of these issues needed to be addressed and considered to the full satisfaction of management and all users before we could embark on any new venture.

The result was an important lesson in how to implement and utilize new procedures and technologies.

Implementation Process

There were several steps that needed to be done to implement Google+, including:

  1. Approval from key players. We checked with key people involved in the decision-making process. We wanted buy-in from all parties. This included the participating credit unions’ security personnel, management, end users and others who would be affected.
  2. Addressing security issues. We got approval from security personnel that Google+ Hangouts would be safe within the credit union system.
  3. Gathering the right team for testing. We wanted to have a team of people who could help to test Google+ Hangouts before we took it live to the public. That gave us a chance to find any bugs, pitfalls or dangers and eliminate problems. Fortunately, it was very easy.
  4. Acquisition of the right equipment. We made sure everyone had a fully functioning video and audio device. We found some people needed to purchase a webcam, but that was very minor. Today you can get very good quality USB-plug-in webcams for less than $100.
  5. Software installation. Installation involved plugging in the USB Webcam (very simple) and installing some software for Google+ Hangouts (usually done in about one to two minutes).
  6. Testing. When everyone had equipment, we conducted several ad-hoc tests between various users. This helped to A) ensure the equipment was working and B) build the level of confidence among users.


Results Were Amazing

When we did the Google+ Hangout (going “On Air” as Google calls it) we had amazing feedback. People loved seeing their peers live on the screen. The host for the event was Leanne Devilegere, branch manager at $1.1 billion/35,000-member Westoba Credit Union, Souris, Manitoba. She comfortably and very professionally handled the transitions, introducing new presenters and more.

People quickly saw the benefits of Google+ and the potential to connect with staff and other interested parties who are scattered geographically.

Potential for Future Credit Union Use

The potential is enormous for using technology like this. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Better communication. Participants raise the level of communication to a more natural level using video. It was like sitting around a “virtual conference table” sharing ideas.
  2. Communication in the event of emergencies. The potential for natural disasters is always present. Snow storms, earthquakes, hurricanes and more can cause disruptions in meeting plans. If you have something like Google+ Hangouts standing by, you could still have the meeting, even if transportation is not available due to inclement conditions.
  3. Immediate action for legislative items. Suppose a bill is pending in your state or province and you need to rally awareness and support (or opposition) to it. This is a great tool to quickly make a statement from a person in authority and have it communicated quickly to all involved. Make your video of the Google+ Hangout available on YouTube and your reach is vastly increased, at no cost to you.
  4. Training. Google+ can be used to bring in experts for training. You could have, for instance, two experts and a moderator discussing an important item. Once recorded, this can become part of a training library that can be private or available to the public.
  5. Tool for product creation. You can easily create video promotional and training products using Google+ Hangouts and YouTube. You get maximum exposure with ease of use and no cost (not a bad deal!).


Do you want to see a Google+ Hangout in action? We produced a special Google+ Hangout and put it on YouTube with two of the key players involved with this Manitoba venture. Lesia Gojan Klein, branch manager at $400 million/9,800-member Carpathia Credit Union, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Roman Jowarsky, the CU’s chief financial officer, joined me for a Google+ Hangout to discuss what they did. You can hear them, in their own words, talk about what happened.

Oh, (surprise!) there is no charge for you to watch it! Don't ya' just love this new technology!

Terry Brock is a Hall of Fame speaker and marketing coach who works with organizations to help them leverage technology and build powerful business relationships. He's the co-author of the McGraw-Hill best-seller Klout Matters: How to Engage Customers, Build Your Digital Influence--and Raise Your Klout Score for Success! Reach him at www.TerryBrock.com or via Twitter: @TerryBrock.

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