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I recently sat down with Ask BBB hosts Jim Swan and Linda Smith to talk business, books and more. The following is a transcript of our interview:
So here we are, taping the BBB course radio segment, with Jim Swan and Linda Smith from the BBB.
I’m Jim Swan.
And she’s Linda Smith.
There we go.
This morning, we’re fortunate to have Greg Schinkel, president of London-based Unique Training and Development, and Michigan-based Frontline Leadership Systems, join us. Welcome to Ask BBB, Greg!
Thanks, Linda, Jim. Great to be with you.
You spend a lot of time in major cities across North America, with major companies. What are some of those companies and where do you wind up?
Well, it does definitely take us far afield. Probably our biggest known client would be Kimberly-Clark Corporation, who makes Kleenex and toilet paper, paper towels. We train all their people at all their factories in North America, and we also train folks right here in London, Ontario, at the London Convention Center, and we’ve trained at Massey Hall and Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. So we’ve worked with probably almost 800 different companies in southwestern Ontario and throughout the United States.
Your training focuses on front-line leaders, supervisors, or managers. Why front-line instead of executive development?
That’s a good question, Linda. You know, when we looked at how many leaders there are, first of all, in companies, most people like the glamor of doing executive development, but really when you think about it, there are way more supervisors and if you go one level below the supervisor to that team lead or lead hand level, there’s a lot of them. First of all, we realized as a business opportunity, there’s a lot more of them than there are managers and executives, but we also realized that those people actually are in touch with most of the people in the organization. When you think about it, they actually interact day to day with almost all the workers in the company, even though they’re at the most junior level in the leadership chain.
I think a lot of people say yes to promotions and they don't even realize what they're getting themselves into. Click To Tweet
So they’re people you want to pay attention to. What career advice do you give to people who are seeking a promotion to becoming a supervisor or a team leader, Greg?
You know what, that’s a good question, because I think a lot of people say yes to promotions and they don’t even realize what they’re getting themselves into. I think most people want to be promoted because they think it’ll bring them maybe more pay, a raise, or it might give them a better title or more power. Really it brings a lot of responsibility, so I think first of all, you want to be diligent in delivering the results that you’re expected do, at any level in the organization, and then if you really have your eye on becoming a leader in the organization, you’re going to want to make sure that you treat people well, with dignity and respect, that you execute on what your manager expects from you on an ongoing basis, and that you don’t burn your bridges along the way, because a lot of people say and do things that end up costing them later on, in terms of respect.
What mistakes do companies make when buying a training package?
You know, in the book that my father Irwin and I wrote called “Fusion or Fizzle?: How Leaders Leverage Training to Ignite Results“, we actually dissect what is the differentiator between good training and bad training. The worst thing that companies do is they’ll bring everyone in the room and they’ll do what’s called “flavor of the month training.” So they’ll go, okay, here’s our topic, we’re going to put everybody through this and hope for the best, and the reality is most people go back to their old ways. So, I think the biggest mistake companies will make is they view training as an event and not a process. Really, most of the effective training happens outside the classroom, either in the work and expectations set in advance, or in some cases, with the follow-up work in terms of performance support. The mistake is not to think of training as actually a big process to manage performance.
You mentioned the book. Do you have to be part of a training package to get the book, or can you get the book independently?
Well, Jim, my dad is very thankful that we actually include some of our books in the training packages. It does help boost sales, but those are of course available on our website.
So if you’re interested in the book title that you mentioned, you can go to the website to find out about it. When people are involved, what’s the biggest mistake that a new leader, just on the job, will make?
Typically the biggest challenges that they face is when they’re managing the friendships and leadership conflicts that can exist. For example, if you’ve been working alongside people and now you’re their supervisor or their team leader, that creates a bit of conflict because they might expect you to cut them a break or cut them some slack, and really when you say yes to that promotion, you’re deciding to put the leadership role ahead of those friendships. Not everyone can handle that, and you’ll see one of two things. You’ll either see people get a little too nice with other people, or you’re going to find that people get too bossy and let the power go to their head, and that doesn’t work out well for them, either.
So, what are some of the things companies should consider when sourcing training for their leaders?
Well, I think the first thing to realize is that not everyone is suited for every audience. As you mentioned, we focus on front-line leaders, so there are colleagues I would likely refer if it was for executive development or management training. If you don’t have the right trainer in the room; they don’t speak the language. They don’t speak the language of the people. In the case of manufacturing versus say a banking environment or service business, it helps to have someone who can speak the language of that industry. So they’re not using banking references in a factory environment, and vice versa. So again, consider the person who’s doing the training, and what is the system from the pre-training work that might get done, to the post-training support, and the sustainability process.
You’re listening to Ask BBB and our guest is Greg Schinkel, president of London-based Unique Training and Development, and Michigan-based Frontline Leadership Systems, and when we return in just a moment, we’ll find out how Greg stays locally connected even though he’s constantly out of town.
Welcome back to Ask BBB.
We’re talking with Greg Schinkel, president of London-based Unique Training and Development, and Michigan-based Frontline Leadership Systems.
Greg, you spend a lot of time traveling across North America, as we heard in the last segment. How do you stay connected locally?
Well Jim, actually one of the nice things now is a lot of training is starting to shift from being just live in the classroom to include e-learning, so thankfully I get to do some of the work from home because we can deliver workshops virtually through webinars and through e-learning modules. But the other thing I like to do is I stay involved in Rotary, and Rotary International specifically, and right here in London, the Rotary Club of London.
BBB has a long-standing relationship with the Rotary Club of London. At the Business Integrity Awards in November, you presented scholarships to the two winning companies on behalf of the Rotary Club. Tell us a bit more about these scholarships.
The relationship that we have with the BBB has been a long time coming and we’ve been partners for a long time, and it’s probably because of our ethics at the Rotary Club, and also the ethics of the BBB. When we looked at partnering with the Integrity Awards, there was no better way for Rotary to get connected than to offer some scholarships. Rotary cares a lot about literacy, and so what we do is for the BBB Integrity Awards, the two winning companies, the smaller and the larger winner, each gets a scholarship for $1500 that they can appoint to whoever they decide.
This past year, we were fortunate. Of the two winners, one is giving the scholarship to three students, and the other is giving the scholarship to two students, so really five students are going to have support for their post-secondary education, and we’re just happy. The genesis of the scholarship is the Ross Emery Scholarship, and Ross was a longtime member of the Rotary Club of London, and his son Steve still stays connected with us, and that allows us to keep funding this scholarship through the Rotary Club of London Foundation.
So it’s a long-standing award and a long-standing relationship, Greg. How important is it for your company, both of them, to be part of the BBB?
Well actually, when I originally signed up I wanted to get that accreditation because we were doing more and more business online, so having that accreditation logo and symbol gives comfort to people. I know I look for it when I’m buying services or products online, and so we felt it would add comfort and confidence to people when they’re purchasing our services, our books, our videos, if they see the accreditation there. And I think it’s great. If you do click on one of the logos, you end up seeing one of the reports for the company. It shows any history, any concerns, any issues, so you can be more assured as a consumer. So we just look at it as a way for people who might not know us in far away states and lands, to do business with us with the confidence of that BBB accreditation.
And so how do companies connect with your company if they’re interested in your services?
Probably the easiest, and these days the most common way, would be to reach out to us on our website, and that would be at uniquedevelopment.com or frontlineleadership.com. Either way, you can connect, or of course, these days, through Facebook, through LinkedIn. I really would love to help anybody who’s listening to this who would like some advice or some information. They can reach out to me through the websites.
Now you mentioned that you can go to the BBB site and check out your company. That would probably be a good thing to do with any company that you were going to deal with. If a company is looking to do some training, what are some of the things they should ask about a company like yours, Greg?
Well, I think the reality is it doesn’t take many credentials to actually get into our line of business, so you really have to do your due diligence. Some of the largest companies before they select us, consider a number of different players, and what they’re really looking is “Are you established? Are you prepared to be paid after the services are delivered, or do you demand significant payments upfront?” We always keep our contracts open-ended so that if it works out, we’ll do more work, and if it doesn’t work out, nobody is really obligated to the service. We find that that allows us to earn our way in, and so if you have any provider that you’re thinking about using, and they’re not giving you a chance to either end the contract without penalty or just simply that they’re not prepared to earn their way through, I think that would be a significant thing for people looking to buy these kinds of services.
Are there metrics kept on the results after training?
That’s a great question because like we talked about, in the last segment, training is beyond just the classroom. What we do for some of our largest clients is people who take our courses have to document online how they’ve been applying the learning and the impact it’s having on their team, and that gets declared and reported back to management, along with us keeping a very diligent set of metrics and scorecards that we can show senior management the impact of the training, how it’s influenced the behavior of the leaders, and therefore how it’s impacting the organization and its customers and its costs.
So overall, it looks as though this year is going be a good one for a lot of companies, especially if they take advantage of training such as yours at Unique Training and Development.
Yeah, although these things called recessions, there’s none on the horizon, nobody’s talking about one, thank goodness. They can creep up on us, but right now I would say, when you look at the economic activity in the United States and in Canada, it looks like 2018 should be a good year. Training and consulting for that matter tend to be affected by the economy, so when the economy gets tight, it’s kind of one of the first things to get cut is training, and we’re seeing companies willing to commit more this year than probably any of the most recent years. And last year was a record for us as well.
Well, we’ll hope you are busy this year, and thanks very much for joining us here on Ask BBB, Greg.
It’s been a pleasure. I really appreciate what you guys are doing, and again, the BBB plays an instrumental role in building the confidence of consumers.
Our guest has been Greg Schinkel, president of London-based Unique Training and Development, and Michigan-based Frontline Leadership Systems, an accredited with the BBB with an A+ rating.
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