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Podcast Pit Stop: Bill Schaninger on Reimagining The Role of The Manager

Reimagining The Role of The Manager

In episode 91 of Pit Stops to Podium, we sit down with Bill Schaninger, Senior Partner Emeritus at McKinsey & Company, international speaker, author, researcher, and advisor to senior executives. Bill, a LinkedIn Top Voice, shares his insights on reimagining the role of the manager. He emphasizes that managers are pivotal in the war for talent, stressing the importance of strong people skills to attract and retain the best talent.

Bill also discusses the need for managers to transition from rule enforcers to rule challengers, acting as critical stopgaps for ineffective or obsolete rules. Moreover, he highlights the value of not promoting good managers out of their roles, but instead recognizing their contributions and allowing them to advance within their positions.

If you’re ready to learn from one of the best, then buckle up and hold on!


Pitstop Highlights

Middle Managers' Role in Boosting Recruitment and Retention

When it comes to disseminating information about the purpose and work of an organization, that comes from people and conversations, not written documents.

The effectiveness of managers often comes down to: what managers spend their time doing, what they think would be a good use of their time, and what they're rewarded for doing.

Managers report that they typically do not spend their time on talent, but rather planning, administrivia, and meetings.  They reported being rewarded for planning and administrivia.  They were not rewarded, encouraged, or directed to spend time on talent.

Managers are often being paid to feed the beast, not nurture the employees.

Nurturing and Valuing Middle Management Expertise

Nurturing homegrown talent is essential for organizations to be successful because it's impossible to hire in everything from the outside.  The middle managers who identify and form talent early are critical to this.

Balancing Individuality and Membership in Organizations

There's always a "give and a get" in organizations.  If you want to be a part of something larger, you can't always do things your way.

If you want to do it your own way, start your own company.  But if you're going to take someone else's human and financial capital, then be a steward of their mission and vision.

Having a membership in something bigger than you is not a bad thing.

Connect with Bill



Full Transcript

Brendan:  Hey everyone, welcome to Pit Stops to Podium, the RevPartners podcast where we talk to execs who have competed and won in taking their companies from high growth to high scale. My name is Brendan Tolleson. I serve as the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners, and I'm delighted to have me today, Bill Schaninger for this episode of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome Bill.

Bill:  Hey, thank you for inviting me.

Brendan:  Well, we're excited to have you. And so for folks that may not know who Bill is, I probably should say congratulations. Bill is now the senior partner emeritus at McKinsey & Company. So he has that distinction, but he's also an author. And so Bill recently launched a book called Powered the Middle. And I'm really excited to use this podcast to talk about that specific topic within the book. But before we do that, Bill, I think it'd be great for our audience just to get to know your experience and what you were doing at McKinsey. And congrats again for, I think you said retirement was about seven or eight days ago.

Bill:  Yeah, May 31st. Um, well, yeah, it's been a little bit of a whirlwind really. I mean, it's nearly 23 years. I joined McKinsey August 1st to 2000 in London. And so it was, um, it's been a long time. My McKinsey stretch, I think significantly informed by what I had done beforehand. I mean, I'm where I'm, I'm talking to you now from, you know, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. So the Lehigh Valley, very Eastern part, Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. Um, and, you know, I grew up here. And I was, my parents were teen parents. None of them went to school. I got up here and I just had, you know, just kind of like, okay, hey, you can go to college. Or by the way, you can go to college and wrestle and play football. And so my earliest years were, you know, clever enough, but it really was just like, college was just this idea, this education and okay, I'm gonna go do it and continue playing sports, particularly wrestling. But when I was doing that, during that period of time, my dad had died when I was 20. He had just turned 40.  And so it changed a little bit of the dynamic, notably on the finance front, which is I needed to start working. And so as soon as my athletic eligibility ran out, I started working at a place called kids piece here in the Lehigh Valley, which is a residential center for kids in crisis residential, you know, psychiatric treatment center. So when I graduated from Moravian where I finished, what was Moravian college, not Moravian university, the, they, they offered me a unit. And so as a 23 year old, I was given this 22 to 25 bed unit with, you know, like 8 to 10 staff, you know, a couple million dollar budgets, right. And they're going, hey, here you go. Go lead this thing. So everyone there was probably getting in the grad school, trying to get a master's degree in social work or in MAD and counseling or something like that. And we were all super passionate about what we were doing, but we had no idea of what we were doing, you know, in terms of the leading it part, right? This idea of how do you scale this thing that beyond just the passion and the purpose. So I went back to school at night full time to get an MBA and the parallels, strategic planning, marketing, operations planning, supply chain, things like that. There was always this thing where you build a plan, and there was a point where the plan ended and the people began. And funny enough, it very rarely worked out the way the plan was, right? How do you get the people to do something different? So I started seeing these parallels between what I was doing during the day, which was explaining why the kids and the patients were behaving the way they were. And at night, studying why do employees behave the way they do. And that was like, Hey, you know, I actually really love this stuff. This explaining what happens when the plan ends and the people begin. Let's focus on that. You know, just the human part of it. So I stopped working and went to Auburn for grad school, picked up a second master's and a PhD, and I thought I was going to be an academic really. I was just, you know, teach or behavior, teach HR principles and management thing, you know, down at Auburn. I have a classroom named after my dad. It was my favorite classroom. It was the mass lecture hall. Um, me and 415 of my closest friends, you know, early on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  And that was the earliest version of me figuring out how much I enjoyed large format engagement. You know, speeches, a little bit of edutainment, things like that. And I only use that as a windup because it started from the kernel of the human experience at work. And how do you actually get people who otherwise would be optimizing for themselves to optimize for part of the broader whole? Right. You know, what is the idea of the single noble purpose? What is this thing that makes, you know, goes from a me to a we? And I was absolutely fascinated by that idea of this combination of behavioral economics, psychology, social psychology, sociology, all coming together in the form of behavior. But I, you know, I intended to be in the SEC and watch good football and write things that most people wouldn't read and not work very hard. That has not, that has not worked out. McKinsey was supposed to be a two year sojourn.   to London on Sunday with his dime, you know.And so, you know, so I joined in August, what was notable about that time, just in rounding out the story, we had about five, six months of the end of the dot com era, crazy run up on talent, incredibly tight talent market, people throwing all kinds of options and salary at people. And then what early, early on, the bottom fell out. So that was a really formative experience in terms of what happened when you went from these unbridled halcyon days to holy smokes, what's left.

Brendan:  Yeah, I can't. I think it's interesting in light of what you've experienced when you started, McKinsey, and probably what you're seeing now, even in the economy. Not to say it's the exact same parallels, but you, yeah. Yeah. Go ahead.

Bill:  Very similar. You know what's interesting? Every 10 years we have one of these, right? If you think about like, when I first started paying attention to the same management things like in 1990, you know, we had sort of, you know, remember 89 or 80, 89, we had the bad stock market. Now you then just the run up through the end of analog, but the earliest part of dial-up, right? So all the folks like you got mail, right? But that was like, you know, I've got a 14, 4 modem, I've got a 28, 8, right? You know, or God forbid you to 56, 6, you were like, look how fast this is.  And so we had this weird run up, and then at the end of the decade, the real implosion on the dot com stuff, also with Y2K, right? Two things fueling it at once. Then 2000 to 2008, you had that run, right? Then before the financial crisis, and then the financial crisis to COVID. So roughly, roughly somewhere like 10 year tranches of almost always one or two fads.  One or two, oh my God, analytics, oh my God, automation, oh my God, AI, right? And so we have these fads that we almost always over-correct on, and there's usually a commensurate response in financial capital and a commensurate response in human capital, right? And I think what we're seeing now is the human capital has shifted in a way outside the bounds of what we're used to before because the power dynamic is just so unbelievably different, almost always. It's an asymmetric power distribution towards companies, and that is not the case right now.

Brendan:  Yeah, it feels like it's almost having overnight to your point of that dynamic. Well, let's before we get into some of the big idea, which gets into those topics when you're talking about kind of the process to people, also the meat of the we before we get into the meat of this podcast, which I'm really excited about, we do have a tradition here at Pit Stops to Podium, and that's to get to know our guests outside of work. And you you're gracious enough to share a little bit more like your origin story and where you grew up in some of those moments in your life.  Um, maybe today was that look like for you, you know, you're retired, how you're going to spend your time, uh, you have family hobbies. I doubt you still wrestle these days, but maybe you do. 

Bill:  No, no, no. I go to the gym now with a trainer and I try to remind myself I used to be athletic. I wasn't an athlete and now it's like each movement like, oh, that hurts. You know, I mean, I'm 53, I'll be 54 at the end of the summer. I think I still have a little bit in the tank to go do something else. But I mean, like closing in on 23 years at McKinsey, that was a good run. You know, I had a wonderful time there.  My good buddy and former colleague Matt Guthridge and I wrote the Organizational Health Index long, long ago. It's still being used. You know, like 5,000 companies, 7 million people later. We came up with the influence model and we came up with the mass personalization of change and all this fun stuff. Started people analytics, ran global talent. So that arc, not only was it fun from a McKinsey standpoint of really turning on a really cool way of thinking about people at work, talent, culture change, structure, transformation, etc.  It also laid the foundation for a really nice and rich set of colleagues and former colleagues and clients that now I could say, hey, you know, Schaninger Services LLC is there. Maybe I'll just, you know, I'll serve a small number of people privately, not with any big need to have a big program, just classic advisory and counseling. And most importantly, I don't have to give speeches away anymore. I will tell you, I love doing speeches. The idea of being paid to do speeches is pretty attractive.

Brendan:  I'm sure it is. And you mentioned Auburn. I'm in SEC territory, and we're recording this from, or I'm recording it from Atlanta, and I'm a Georgia Bulldog, so you're gonna have to forgive me for that. 

Bill:  Hey, I'm an Eagles fan, buddy. We love the Bulldogs. That is the bulk of our defense, man. But there's a big room. We're gonna start with the guys who never made it in the Eagles.

Brendan:  Yeah, exactly. I heard it called the Philadelphia Bulldogs recently. So I know it's hard to be a Falcons fan, but if I'm not rooting for the Falcons, I'll be rooting for the Eagles going forward.

Bill:  Well, it's all Bulldogs, which is wonderful. And I'm not sure about your quarterback situation. We'll see. We'll see how that plays out.

Brendan:  Yeah, it is a question of heart. But a lot of dog fans are hopeful that... Anyways, I will not get in college football because you and I are probably the only ones that care about this with our community. But I could talk a whole podcast about it. Well, let's transition into the topic that our audience actually does care about, which is not SEC football. And you kind of tease that a little bit, but I really want to focus on the book that you're launching, The Power of the Middle.  And a lot of it kind of talks through re-imagining the role of the manager. And so I'd love to start here with kind of what drove you to write this book? What are the trends that you're seeing in the market that say, hey, this is a really important topic that as companies are scaling, they really need to place a heavy emphasis on the manager.

Bill:  You know, I mean, I had initially wanted to write a history book. And it was intended to be sort of those three areas I was talking about 90 to dot com, but Y2K and dot com bust, then that to the financial crisis, financial crisis to COVID. And part of the reason I wanted to do that was an answer of how did we get here? You know, we're closing in on about 25 years since war for talent was written and published, and yet we find ourselves in a situation where, at any given time, 40% of employees are saying they're thinking about or going to leave. Many of those same 40% have already done it once or twice. A huge number of them, 2/3 or more, are saying they'll do it without a job in hand. I mean, just we have a workforce that is questioning, what's the point of a workplace? We have a workforce that has been hired in the last two years and not been properly onboarded.  We have a workforce that resembles vendors and gig employees far more than classic traditional we employees. So I think we've kind of, you know, we've backed our way almost into a gig economy without even maybe thinking, being thoughtful about it. And so the reason I wanted to write the history book was saying, well, what got us here? And you know, one, you know, okay, we're McKinsey, right? I'm McKinsey for nearly 23 years. So I structure things and go, hey, there's a tranche here on the work.  A lot of work has in fact changed, whether it was we were doing analytics before, then we're doing robotic processing, then we started looking at automation, you know, now it's in the application of generative AI. In all cases, the amount of really dramatic change we've had to work in the last five years, but particularly the last two. Amazing. I mean, you know, who would have guessed that big box retailers would become forward deployed logistics locations? Because what do you do when you sell things and customers can't actually come in your store?  You gotta do something with it, right? I mean, the advent of kiosks in fast foods and apps where like you're actually not going in, not really interacting with a human. All those sorts of things, right? Even something as simple as if you go to a fancy restaurant, is there going to be a sommelier or are you gonna be handed an iPad? Right, so both service and manufacturing. I'm bringing that up because the amount of tumult and change in work and questioning what's gonna go back to how it was versus what is how it's going to be going forward. You have to have your head around that, because literally the kernel of everything talent-related starts with the work. What work needs to be done? OK, well, who's best suited to that? Usually the direct manager and someone in a people leadership role. To be able to go from that and then say, well, what does that mean for the workforce? What kind of skills do we need? You need someone capable of saying, what were we asking? Do we have to have a degree or not have a degree? If you're working in insurance, you and you're trying to do some basic underwriting, do you need to be an actuary? Or could you be an FP&A person who's pretty good at building predictive regression models? That kind of stuff. OK, who's best at that? Who's best at really knowing what's critical and what's determinant, and then pair that with some good people analytics? Should be the manager, the direct manager. And you get to this idea of the workplace, you go, well, what is the point of a workplace anymore? We think about what work's being done, how it's being done.  When it's being done, with whom is it being done? And then lastly, where is it being done? Those questions around stuff that we used to just take by the throat, of course we're gonna eat traffic. You know, you're talking about Atlanta, right? Of course I'm gonna eat 400. Of course I'm gonna eat 85, 75. Of course it's gonna take me 45 minutes to go three miles to turn off there at 10 and 14, right? Whatever. What if you don't have to do that? What's the point?  And so again, OK, who makes the workplace something special? Well, people go, well, of course, there's a purpose for going in there, the middle manager. So the good news was we had an answer to all those, the middle manager. The bad part was they're also the problem, because over the course of 30 years, it's a group that went through re-engineering and overuse and zealous use of Lean 6 or Lean 6 then the holocracy, then the humanocracy, then the self-serve, then the pushing of administrivia down to the frontline leader, then E-HR, then the abandonment of performance management, then the return of performance management, the hyper-fixation on A players, the ignoring of the B players who deliver the business. All those things have gone on over time, all while having spans increasingly jacked and flattened. So in many cases, managers still being asked to carry their own tools and do work. That's a long windup just to say, at the moment when we need them the most to figure out changes in work, workforce and workplace, we've hammered them and we've not set them up for success. I mean, how many of the middle managers that you see today were really just incredible individual contributors and then we had to be able to pay them more so we had to call them a manager. So that to me, the underlying impetus was, we need this group so much and they're so important because we know that people leave bosses, they don't leave companies.  The most important relationship at work is the boss. A massive determinant of life satisfaction is the quality of relationship with your direct supervisor. Amazingly important role with a group and a skill pool broadly unloved and undermined. And so that was the genesis of it. And just coming up from a perfect timing standpoint, just as we started seeing companies return to, hey, we got to go take some cost out, let's go hit the middle.  I mean, even now I see it on my LinkedIn feed. If you go look, there's still a group that's kind of recalcitrant, and we'll put out things about the book coming out. Well, middle managers are useless. I begged, I just begged to differ. I'm sorry. People don't arrive at a company knowing magically how it works. Most people show up wanting feedback, wanting coaching. Could you imagine sending your child to piano lessons and the piano teacher never talking to them? Of course not. Would you go to a sports game where no one keeps score? The coach doesn't actually talk to the quarterback.  Of course not. Why would we accept that at work? And so I think we're getting it wrong, just completely getting it wrong.

Brendan:  Yeah, there's definitely a trend towards that to your point. And let's unpack a little bit of what you just described in terms of the justification for that middle management. And one of the things you talked about was that attrition that people are starting to see. I can't remember the stat that you used, but it was a large percentage that are leaving even though they don't have a real line. Yeah.

Bill:  Two thirds of those leaving, two thirds of them don't have a job in hand. And it's stubbornly stuck at that, Brendan. That's the amazing part. Like we thought maybe it was a spike early on when it was like a crazy tight labor market. But now that people are doing it, it's just there. It's like the steady state, which is, hey, I'll figure it out.

Brendan:  Which is wild. So I'd love to start there in terms of, we talk about the justification or the role of the middle manager. One of the things that you talk a lot about is as there's this war on talent, as there's more of this transactional layer, the middle management can actually thwart that or be a way to actually drive higher retention rates. So let's talk about that topic a little bit further in terms of how management can support people retention. Well, actually let's do two things, recruiting and retaining.

Bill:  Yeah, I mean, look, I think one of the most amazing things is that so much of what we do requires the middle manager to be the sharp end of the spear. Whether it's, let's just say, something as simple as, the purpose of an organization. How do you distill the purpose of an organization? Why this work should matter at all? And what it means to an individual employee. That doesn't come in a written document. That comes from a conversation, and understanding what matters to that person. You need a human to do that. There is no large language model that's going to spit that out for you and have it resonate. Yes, it can produce something. That's not the same as talking to this person who's sense-making for you. And so the basic things that matter so much, how about when somebody's job has changed? And you'd be able to pull the job apart and go, those three, we're not going to do it all anymore. That's silly. Those two, we can do with automation. Let's put this back together and figure out what's left for you, the human.  Again, the person supervising the work does that in conjunction with the employee. So I think when we look at these amazing things that the managers could be doing, and then before the book, we went to like, I don't know, 800 or 1,000 managers and said, what do you spend your time on? What would be a really good use of your time and what are you rewarded for? What they spend their time on was not time on talent, planning, administrivia, meetings.  They spent their time on that. Where do they think they should be spending their time? Sure, still a little bit of planning, but a 1A was time on talent, and then a long way to the other stuff, right? And what were they rewarded for? Planning, administrivia. Time on talent was not something they were being rewarded for, directed to do, or encouraged to do. And so they said, if we've built this machine where the managers are there to feed the beast, not feed and nurture the employees. So, you know, if you were to say, well, what...what can organizations do to make this likely? The first one is just clean up the role. Change the jobs to be done. Go back and look at what are you actually asking them to do? I mean, I had a client who ran a really big refinery down near New Orleans, and they were having problems with their equipment breaking. And part of that was because they weren't fixing it properly. And we said, hey, we're gonna have the team out at first starts, which is like a 6 a.m. meeting. First maintenance crews go out to fix things. Do you wanna join us? Might be really useful to get a handle on what's going on and what they think matters, and you can give them some broader context. No, I can't do that, I have a meeting with Houston. What do you mean? Well, it's a standing meeting. Note to self, right? It's like, what matters more to you than this refinery making gas? And this refinery only makes gas when it's running. So maybe we should be focused on that. But over time, you've just creeped in and made administrative and rules and by-rote meetings more important than nurturing and taking care of the actual human capital. So that's first off, I think it's clean up the role. I do think, I think it's pretty important that you remind them and all the employees what good looks like. The employees who've not been on boarded right or never known any different wouldn't know what good is. But they're probably pretty clear about what bad is and they're probably in some cases making excuses for it. I think if you make it incredibly transparent to both the people you're putting in these leadership roles, here's the expectation.  You are going to talk with everybody every day. You are going to have feedback every other week. You are going to keep track of that so that at the end of the year, the form is not something new and a surprise to anyone. It's merely a summation and synthesis of what you've been talking about all year. If you were that explicit with leaders about this is your job, job one is leading, not administering, that might be a huge difference. But you go a step further and make it clear to the employees what you should expect. And I think after that, then I think, look, I think this is one of those deals where there's a mindset here about if you're going to wear the badge, you got to bleed it. Otherwise, you shouldn't get to wear it. I mean, there is just there's such an importance. On these roles of being like, I work for it, just think about people talking about work. They'll go about 10 seconds before they mention their boss. It is critical, right, that these people are the kind of people who are proud to wear the badge.  I used to stand outside of refineries and chemical plants. And I'd watch as people go to their cars or whenever I went to a place to go get something to eat, I'd see how many people take their swag off. Are they taking the jacket off? Are they taking the badge off? Things that identify them. Versus people who are like, proud to be doing it, right? I mean, you'd see people like at Tennessee Valley Authority who were third and fourth generation and proud to have that kind of stuff, right? The idea that the people you're leading are part of like your broader family.  Big deal from a motivation standpoint, but when you're really just there collecting the check because you're an individual contributor and or don't like it, it's a different level of emotional attachment and obligation.

Brendan:  Yeah, and it's, and I think to your point, it's a way to have that competitive, especially in this market, to have a competitive advantage where you have that loyalty, which is really, really hard to find right now. And I like what you were just talking about in terms of the role of the manager as it relates to rule enforcement versus challenging. You know, I think a lot of what we talked to our team about is really middle management. You're carrying and casting the vision, the mission and the values.  And so it's so critical that they feel empowered, that they are not a task master, but they're ultimately saying, hey, I own this culture and I need to make sure that I am contributing to it and I'm protecting it and I'm preserving it. And not just to enforce it, but to say, hey, how can this be better? Because oftentimes to your point, it's more that task master that I think a lot of people view with that management layer.

Bill:  I mean, we talk a lot about the idea of the permafrost or the clay layer in the middle. And in many cases, it's talked about whether in culture, work or in communication. Like why is it that the perfectly crafted email that the senior leaders think are going to magically communicate once to everyone? Well, what happens to it? Well, in many cases, it's filtered through a people who are disgruntled, feel unloved, feel disenfranchised, and they feel no compunction at all to sell your story.  So you're lucky if they even acknowledge it. In many cases, it doesn't even get open. Shocking statistic when you go and look and say, how many emails that ostensibly are said to have come from the CEO were actually opened? Even then, you know, are they red, right? And so one of the things that's interesting as our technology has gotten better and the transaction cost of communication has gone dramatically lower, we flood the channel. And so now it's just noise. So you need a sense maker localized where you have no chance at all of bringing it to life.  Whereas back in the day, when you didn't have that, you'd have the office manager or the local leader convening a bit of an all hands, right? And conveying, hey, here's what this means, here's what's coming, here's what it means for us. And then the lower level leaders would say, okay, here's what it means for you. That was authentic engagement in a cascading fashion, as opposed to now, it's left to the beauty of an FAQ page and an email. And so we've lost our way with the importance of connecting the dots on the human level, not just allowing it. Oh, it's on the webpage, why don't you go find it.

Brendan:  I think that also speaks to, there's a high, it seems like there's a high level of distrust. And so you have like, to your point, it's really crowd noisy, the white noise of all these communication channels, but even take at a core level, do I believe that leader? Or is this just going to be not only is it a ton of communication, but it's a bunch of garbage is probably too strong a word.

Bill:  Well, I think you're close to it if you think about the level of cynicism and the level of mistrust. I mean, it is interesting when you look across generations. So I'm 53. So I graduated high school in 1987. Well, what was happening then? The absolute destruction of cradle to grave employment was happening during that time. We watched our parents get fired. Bethlehem Steel went cold. Mack trucks moved away. Lucent went out of business within a few years. Just know where I live. Fuller Company was bought.  You know, a good portion of that was you thought that if you went somewhere and you had a middle manager job at one of these big companies, that was an esteemed position. Oh, they're a VP at Air Products. They're a VP at PPL. Then within 10, 15 years, they became the source of Dilbert cartoons and TPS reports and who moved my stapler and jokes. Well, how did that happen? You went from something of these, these custodial roles that could really bring it to life for people and make work more than drudgery. Now they were the joke.  And so, you know, in that arc, I think you started seeing it became less about a wonderful part of the marrow of the organization and a way station to get through and out of as quickly as possible. You know, so you started seeing it used as a parking ground for people who are individual contributors and you need to pay more money to or for people who did have talent get passed through incredibly quickly. Right. And you just create the next hole. So, I mean, so much of this has been both a structural as well as a talent, you know, a talent system or talent strategy failure.

Brendan:  Yeah, I mean, I think what you're arguing for is really the middle management becomes the most valuable asset for the organization and it creates that. Yeah.

Bill:  Well, from a scale standpoint, right? Shouldn't it be? It's just a math, right? I mean, as a skill pool, they are a flywheel in and of themselves just because of the sheer number of people. I know after years of increasing spans, they literally have more nodes coming into them than anyone else.

Brendan:  Yeah, and I think what you're saying at that last point too is, like, kind of how you talk about the badge for the organization, like that you work at an organization almost because of badge for that, that role that you empower that individual. That's not just a stepping stone to, hey, if you're an IC to become a manager or from manager, then become an executive. It's saying, no, like let's champion this persona because how valuable this is. And there are other ways to reward that behavior or their value, not necessarily through, um, getting into another position, but really, there are different ways to monetize it, to your point.

Bill:  You know, when I was a kid and we were playing football in junior high football, we had a guy who had coached in high school. I think he even coached in college a little bit. It was later in his career and his life. And he just wanted to teach young guys the basics of football, a very, very early middle manager kind of role, right? And this guy was invaluable. The worst thing ever would have been pulling this guy out and putting him as like an assistant with a high school. Because if you were really looking at a feeder program, when you were teaching the 13 year old how to get in their stance, how to really hit safely, how to really play the game and understand it, you needed someone exceptional at these skills. And you know, all around, you see anywhere where an organization, whether it's a team or a school or a company that relies on a funnel, of homegrown talent because you can't possibly hire in everything from the outside. Those people down in the lower middle who really form and identify talent early and oh there's something special here and let's groom it and let's have a chance of having a way that we do it as opposed to me. You rely on them so much and when you don't have it what do you got? You got one of these deals where you're learning a new playbook every year. You know and like going back to the football metaphor and so there is I just think the extent to which there's a way we do it.

Brendan:  Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree. And I think there's that, you know, pushes back on, I think, to a lot of, I mean, there's, I don't want to say desire, but there's a desire for autonomy, and desire to kind of have my own little kingdom. And I think this just pushes back on that concept of the value of the human, to your point, the human relationship, and the role that serves to go from that me to we and ultimately allow a company to scale.

Bill:  You know that one. I know you want to hear it. You just made a really important point right there about the one-on-one. I want to do it my way. If you're going to be part of something larger, then something has to be suborned. And it's normally your desire and your will to do it your way. It is not artisanal when it's part of something bigger. If you want to do it your way, then become a vendor. If you want to lead your way, start your own company. But so long as you're taking someone else's financial capital and human capital and going to be a steward of them, steward them in the way of the thing. That's what being that's a part of is the reason we seek membership in bigger things is we like the protection. We like the stability. We like the comfort. Well, the give and the get on that on the other side is you sign up for their playbook, not your own. And I think somewhere along the line, we've made it a bad thing to say, there is a give and a get all exchange relationships, particularly social exchange have a given a get and part of membership is your membership in something bigger than you, and I think we've lost our way in that a little bit.

Brendan:  I love that. We had Horst Schulze, who was the CEO of the Ritz-Carlton for a long time. One of the things he talks about, which speaks to what you're just describing, is the number one factor for employee satisfaction is not your paycheck. It's the idea of purpose. It's being invited into something that's bigger than yourself. That's exactly what you're describing.

Bill:  Oh, I love it.  Absolutely right. Wonderful.  I'm sure whatever we said on that one is gold. I'll tell you that. Ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen, it's the stuff that scions are made of. It's so wonderful. I used to regularly host events at Ritz's and I would randomly call over a person from the catering team in the middle of the event and go, what principle did you talk about this morning? Did you go over who's the house? And they nailed it every time unprompted because they got it.

Brendan:  And what a great example of a large organization with a vision, a mission, and all the way down at each hotel to your point, they knew it. So that crystallization just speaks to the value of having a continuity, but I'm sure there's that middle manager, whoever's at the hotel ensuring that that's getting experience.

Bill:  That program for general managers and the person who runs the front of the house, the person who runs the back of the house, that program gets it. In distributed assets, when you have locations or refineries or manufacturing sites, there is nothing more important to you to keep the cohesion of the thing than those leaders. How they're picked, how they're grown, how they're appraised, all of it, nothing more.

Brendan:  Well, Bill, as we wrap up, final lap question. If our audience wants to learn more from you, how can they get access to the book or reach out to you for, let's just say, a speaking engagement? So what's the next step?

Bill:  Well, for sure. OK, so then I have a website being built, and the LLC is formed. In the meantime, easiest way to get me is LinkedIn. It's under Bill Schaninger, S-C-H-A-N-I-N-G-E-R. And my email is bill.shaniger at Gmail. And I respond to most everything. Anybody who's interested in this stuff, I love talking about.

Brendan:  And to your point, it's been, I won't say polarizing, but I think there is that people are leaning towards the opposite side. So it's fun to hear somebody advocate for the other end with the historical information, but also just evidence of how this can be such a powerful tool for companies as they scale. So Bill, I really do appreciate you coming on board. I really enjoyed it. I know our audience will as well. So thanks so much for the time. We'll stay in touch.

Bill:  Thank you so much. We appreciate the time. Thank you.

Brendan:  Great, well thank you. 

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