Name: Jim Schneider
Job: President, Vertical Performance at 2100 S. Illinois St. in Belleville (618-234-8110)
Name: Lyndon Joost
Job: Vice President, Vertical Performance at 2100 S. Illinois St. in Belleville (618-234-8110)
A Belleville-based business consulting service has recently opened an office in town after years of providing guidance and development for metro-east businesses. Jim Schneider, who also serves as the City of Belleville's Director of Human Resources, Training and Development as well as the Director of Parks and Recreation, founded Vertical Performance eight years ago and has recently welcomed Lyndon Joost to his team. The two recently sat down with business writer Will Buss at their new office in Belleville to discuss Vertical Performance and their mission:
Q: How did you get started?
Schneider: "Vertical Performance was started in 2005. Some of the Vertical Performance team, however, has worked together since the early to mid '80s. We have been doing team building and community development and things like that at companies for a lot of years under the umbrella of the YMCA of Southwest Illinois. Then, in 2005, we set up Vertical Performance and then this year, on July 1, we moved it into a place."
Joost: "On July 1, I took early retirement and came here. Jim and I were roommates in college, so the relationship has always been there and there was always this dream of doing something like this."
Q: How do you define your service?
Schneider: "My background is in human development and organizational development and community development, and most of the people who work for us come from a variety of backgrounds with similar kinds of experiences. We're into performance improvement, particularly in the people end. We help people raise their game, help organizations work together better while working with different organization's cultures. We do a lot of leadership development, customer service and human relations skills to essentially work with the people skills to help staffs improve overall productivity."
Q: How did you come up with this idea?
Schneider: "Many of us had worked together since '83...We work as a team and work well together. So there is some magic there, but it's the combination of skills sets and personalities that we have here. Initially, everybody that was with us, prior to Lyndon, had full-time jobs and we all had full-time jobs that we loved, as a matter of fact, but we also loved doing this. As I was working for the city, besides that endeavor, on the side we could keep working together as a team, but also keep doing what we love doing the most, which is community development and community building. So then the issue we have was because we all had full-time jobs was we had to limit the amount of clients that we could have at a given time. With Lyndon entering the picture, that brought us somebody who had this incredible skill set and was willing to go full time to allow us to take that limit up and shift our focus into a growth pattern, instead of a holding pattern."
Joost: "I had been working with Jim and the others prior in an advisory capacity. So as I was advising them and as we were working through some of the strategic issues, I became more and more involved and the possibilities became more prevalent."
Q: Who are your clients?
Schneider: "Any people who work, mostly in the corporate workplaces, but we have also worked with not-for-profit organizations and boards and all sorts of different groups of people."
Q: How does Vertical Performance help these businesses?
Schneider: "We get hired a lot just to facilitate discussions. A group may have an issue and they want to neutral facility or help with the discussion. We've done a lot of work lately with strategic planning and envisioning and looking forward. Sometimes we get brought in to do a lot of work with the culture with our team development and community making, where we actually go in and deal with the very real issues and barriers that they have."
Q: Is Vertical Performance like a consulting firm?
Schneider: "Yes. We wear different hats. Some of what we're doing is consulting. Mostly what we're doing is facilitating. We also have coaching, one-on-one leadership coaching. We're usually working with leaders but also with all sorts of employees from different levels helping them in a one-on-one training."
Joost: "We're about to start working with a management team and lead a group seminar on leadership and management skills and then we will work with individuals to help them develop their individual leadership and management skills and help them also to become a resource for each other."
Q: What is your mission statement?
Joost: "Our mission statement is to 'better people, better organizations, better community.' That pretty much describes the way that we've come to approach that. As Jim said, we're looking at helping organizations to do better from the human side. And we look at that to help individuals do better and help individuals work together better as a team and the organization becomes better functioning, and the organization becomes contributors."
Q: How has this service evolved into what your offer clients today?
Schneider: "What we did then, now we're just doing it in a different way now at a higher level. But even back then we were doing a lot of leadership development. We even started doing some customer service kind of training back then, and that paved the way for this."
Q: Now that you have an office, what are you able to accomplish and how can you better accommodate clients?
Joost: "The room right here can be set up with a conference table for classroom training, Everything is pretty mobile and adaptive. We also have a sitting room area for small groups. For a group of 14 or less, we can accommodate them and can coach here."
Schneider: "It depends what they're looking for. If they don't have a room where you can have a private conversation, we have room for that...It just gives us an options that we didn't have before."
Q: What do you enjoy most about your service?
Schneider: "The people. We have worked together for a long time and we work together well. We genuinely like each other, so that actually is a factor. Lyndon just adds to that. We feel like the culture that we have created for ourselves is incredibly effective, and we would like to see other workplaces have the same culture. The main thing that drives this is the folks that we have on this staff...Everybody comes from a different framework, but their skills and passion about developing other people and developing organizations. The bottom line, making a difference."
Joost: "People really respect each other and trust each other. The people are not about themselves...We give them an environment and to have meetings like we have and the brainstorming and the discussions that go on, it's just a great thing to witness."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.