CLP007 Mark Schinnerer – Enjoying Millenials & Leading Through Regulatory Challenges (PDF)
Marc Pitman: Welcome to the Concord’s Leaders podcast. I’m Marc Pitman, CEO of the Concord Leadership group. Today our guest is Mark Schinnerer, he’s the CEO of CARC in New Mexico. Mark, I’m so thrilled to have you here.
Mark Schinnerer: It is so great to be with you, Marc, appreciate it.
Marc Pitman: I’ve enjoyed your enthusiasm the few times that we’ve interacted, both in person and on the phone. I’m wondering, what do you enjoy about being a leader?
Mark Schinnerer: When I first got into a leadership role, you know you kind of get that head rush of wow, getting to be in charge, you’ve got your own vision, and you want to run things. Of course, I grew up on a farm, so I wanted to run things. I wanted to grow things. Today, now that I’m 57, getting a little older, I have found with some of the new staff that I have, who are millennials, and some people will cringe at that term, it’s like, “Oh, no.” I really like working with them. That’s what I enjoy about leading today, is working with the millennials, because they’re different, which is not a bad thing. I found out that they’re driven to learn, they want to be part of the decision making process, they want to have a say in how things are run.
Developing them in supervisory management positions is really kind of cool, because they are smart folks. They don’t want to just take my time and learn the ropes. They want to jump in the middle of it and they’re not afraid. I think what I enjoy about leading is now having the ability and the responsibility to mentor them, to develop them into better leaders, help them to achieve their goals. Even if they’re going to leave, because I figure that I want them to be a better person, a better employee, supervisor, manager, whatever their next role is going to be for their next employer. I think that’s my responsibility, or to help them learn skills if they want to run their own business.
The reality is, I know they’re going to leave eventually. Why not develop them while they’re here, help them be a better person for the next person down the road?
Marc Pitman: That’s a really good reality check of nobody’s a lifer, for the most part. Instead of basing your leadership on the lie of, “This one may stay here forever.” That must effect all of your process, of both pouring into people but also setting up systems to make it so that coming and going is smoother, right?
Mark Schinnerer: It is. The challenge with small organizations, in the scheme of things, we’re small but we’re not, we employ here a little over 200 folks. We don’t have the luxury in all of our departments to have that next person in line to train for leadership roles sometimes. That’s a challenge. I’m not sure I have found it out yet, but here’s my guess. If I take this kind of interest in leadership development and some of these folks, knowing that they’re going to leave, but actually, I think they’ll stay a little bit longer because they get validation, they get an opportunity to grow and to actually lead instead of being, “Oh, I’ll let you lead in a couple of years.” Then they’ll want to go and find that opportunity because that’s what they want to do. If I can develop that in them here, then actually they might stay a little bit longer. It’s self-serving.
Marc Pitman: It sounds like it’s really fulfilling too. Did you have to stumble across this discovery or was this something that you just started noticing? You don’t hear, unfortunately, millennials get a pretty bad rap, like every generation that comes up through the employment system. Gen X-ers did, before that it was boomers that were. People forget it though, because when they’re the ones that are in the older ages, they start, “We were never like that.” Was it hard for you to adjust to the really healthy perspective of enjoying?
Mark Schinnerer: Initially, you look at employees in that age range, so in the millennial category, and everybody goes to they’re never on time, you can’t count on them, they want flexible schedules, and those kind of things. Which are true, but if you understand that’s just how they operate and can we work with that? Then they’re not frustrated, I’m not frustrated. I was at a conference in San Diego and there was a presentation on millennials. I then started doing a little research into who the millennials were and what drove them and stumbled across, really, what drives them. It’s like, how can I use that? I grow myself and I want to grow others.
I’ve been doing leadership training for several years in the community and speaking on leadership at times. That’s just ingrained. Looking at my responsibility, and now I got these folks who really want to learn and lead, by golly let me develop them to do that. If I can give them some responsibility, I don’t have to make all of the decisions.
Marc Pitman: That is tremendous. We all know that leadership isn’t a bed of roses all the time. What was a time that you hit a struggle or a challenge? What did you do to deal with it?
Mark Schinnerer: It’s like, which one do you want me to pick? Leadership challenges come up every day. My staff around here or some of my directors tell me when they’re letting me be the CEO, you know how that goes, “You get to be the CEO today.” That means, “Okay, what’s the problem?” In the industry that I’m in, which is healthcare, social services, licensed group homes, it’s highly regulated, funded through Medicaid and those kind of funding systems. There’s a lot of rules.
At times, just because things happen because we employ people and people are not perfect, things happen. Sometimes you bump up against regulatory issues or sometimes legal issues. When they do, it can be … When it’s the basis of the funding of your business and you’ve got regulatory people breathing down your neck with really severe consequences potentially, it creates high stress, when it’s the basis for you even getting paid. If it’s issues caused by some of your staff, in my business, it’s a 24 hour a day business, I can have consequences for something that my staff does.
Recently we had some regulatory issues that, personally, I wanted to run away and scream, but you can’t do that. I think the key for a leader is, you’re the one sitting in the chair, you agreed to take the responsibility when you agreed to take the job. Hold your head up, be confident, work through it, because you can always find a way to get through it. It may not be fun, it may not be easy. Ours, this was just 2 weeks ago, it was not fun, was not easy. Actually, there was one 2 weeks ago, there was one a month ago. These are bigger than we’ve ever dealt with since I’ve been here, for 9 years. You have to work through it.
If you live, buy, and work with integrity and you know you didn’t intend to do anything wrong, somebody might see it that way. You just have to work through it. At the end of the day, if you want you can go home and throw up if you want. I go home and garden, I have a garden so I go home and just spend time in the garden. I think the other key is to know when to use the knowledge and the influence of the board that you have. Hopefully those folks are on your board for a reason and it’s not just for fundraising, and it’s not just for management, or things like that, but those are all good things. Hopefully they’re on your board because they have influence in the community, they have knowledge in areas that you don’t have and to know when to use them and when not to use them to help you with those issues is really important.
Marc Pitman: You don’t have to be in it alone, you can have people that are helping. That’s really helpful.
Mark Schinnerer: Right, right.
Marc Pitman: Thank you so much. As we come to the end of this discussion, I’d love to ask, is there something, a specific strategy, or a tip, or one thing you recommend listener’s do as soon as they’re finished with this podcast?
Mark Schinnerer: I promote, it’s a framework that I use, the word flag, F-L-A-G, because you see a flag all the time. It’s based on a whole longer discussion. We hear the national anthem all the time, so it should remind you of the flag. F stands for focus on what’s good. You get what you focus on. L stands for lead those around you, you set the tone for everyone else around you. A stands for acknowledge your challenges, we get strength from the things that challenge us and we learn from them. G is grow for survival, you have to commit to your own personal growth in order to grow your organization or to grow your employees and your staff. If you’re not growing yourself, then you’re falling behind. That’s what I would leave everybody with, the flag framework.
Marc Pitman: Wow. I’m scribbling notes all over the place. I’m sure, hopefully our listeners that are driving cars aren’t doing that but I know that people will be wanting to listen to this again. Thanks so much for that perspective of, I love the idea of you do leadership stuff in the community and now you get to do it in your organization. Not that you hadn’t before, but there’s new people that are coming in that, they want that, they’re eager for that. I’m really excited that you’re giving leadership decision making to your millennial employees. I love the flag concept too, that whole lead those around you, acknowledge your challenges, and grow for survival. Mark, thank you so much. Where could people find you if they wanted to followup with some of the tips that you shared?
Mark Schinnerer: I do have a blog, it’s really new, kind of looks a little ugly right now because in the development stage. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I recently did a little post on the flag framework, I try to talk about some leadership things on there. Like I said, it’s really new and it’s in the development stage, but it’s out there.
Marc Pitman: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much, I know people are going to want to listen to this again.
Mark Schinnerer: I suppose in your show notes, you’ll put actually how to spell my name, because it’s not easy.
Marc Pitman: I was going to put that for everybody listening it’s Mark with a K, not with a C. Then, we’ll have Schinnerer, we’ll have it on the page.
Mark Schinnerer: It’s different.
Marc Pitman: That’s great. Thank you so much again, Mark. This episode, as with all the other episodes of the Concord’s leaders podcast will be able to be found online at https://concordleadershipgroup.com/podcast/.
Until next time, remember healthy non-profits start with healthy leaders.