When I started my business I was inspired by the hard-working supervisors in the manufacturing plants and trades industries I met. They were great at their technical positions but struggled when promoted to leadership positions. Without tools to lead they resorted to old school behaviours they had seen to cover up their lack of confidence about managing their people.
I found my sweet spot
I realized that the middle level management was where I was providing the best training value to business owners. At the time I focused on onsite leadership training for supervisors and middle managers. Each new contract started with interviews and I learned a lot about how people learn at work and what managers craved to know to manage their teams effectively. Things were going well and I had more contracts than I could handle.
But things were getting harder…
To keep up my skills, I started creating courses for business and immigrant support organizations, school-to-work colleges and took on longer-term government contracts. The strain of all this lone delivery, writing, and project management was taking its toll on my health and I was constantly sick and exhausted. I really wanted to change my business model but didn’t know where to start.
The first crash
Then the 2015 recession hit. All my in-person training contracts came crashing down and there were no writing contracts to be found. It was six months of little to no revenue, business debt, and worrying about how to avoid losing the business.
What I had to meet the challenge
Fortunately, I am always learning AND I keep up with future of work trends! I had been dabbling in online course creation but I found them mechanical and dry. At the same time I had been offering monthly webinars. What surprised me was that my solo webinars were often better attended and more popular than the employer interviews.
An aha moment!
This gave me an idea – why not create online courses combined with live web coaching and offer that to cash strapped businesses? It would be more personal, would have small cohorts of learners who could interact and would have the benefits of online content. After a couple of pilot courses to work out the glitches, I realized I had a winning idea. Employers saw changes in their supervisors right away. Better communication, happier teams, less conflicts, and more on time, on budget delivery to clients. In fact, the results were hands down better and more sustained than any classroom training had been previously.
The birth of the Shift team!
But I needed a team. It was not possible to continue everything on my own. After a few starts and stops, I learned about hiring the right type of person for the job and brought on the wonderful Shift team we have now along with several extra online instructors/coaches. We became experts at creating workflows, running virtual team meetings and managing complex projects – all virtually. When Covid-19 hit, we were well-positioned to help others position their businesses virtually and benefit from online training. And we are still doing it! That, my friends, is the story of Shift Management.