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Ask Skip: Do You Have a Degree in Psychology? (no one has ever asked me this)

Last week the owner of a small business (about $10 million and 60 employees) called to investigate how I might help with workplace drama he was facing.

Early in our conversation he asked, “do you have a degree in psychology?”

“No,” I replied curiously, “Why does that matter?”

“I’m struggling with a number of personality conflicts between people in our company and I thought I someone with that background is what I need.”

I told him, “I have a degree in communication, and your issues with workplace personality conflicts are simply communication issues I can help with.”

In 13 years of helping business leaders transform workplaces from drama and into initiative and ownership no one ever asked me that question.

After that call I realized that it doesn’t matter if I have a formal degree in psychology.

I do have training though, both formal and informal, in personal change strategies. All are based in interpersonal communication.

There is one over-arching communication strategy anyone can use to help people change their attitudes and behaviors, even you.

Empathy!

Empathy is the most mis-understood communication strategy.

In my leadership communication trainings, the role-play exercises attendees engage in, consistently show me few know how to deliver empathy effectively.

Empathy is the ultimate in listening and reflecting what the listener is hearing.

A primary reason psychologists, social workers and counselors are able to achieve results with clients seeking personal change is directly related to their communication style.

Obviously, this communication style is part of their formal training, yet, research has shown similar results can be achieved with layman who are also able to exhibit high levels of empathy.

So, what IS empathy and how can you display it?

I’ll address that issue with specific language later this week. Stay tuned.

Because of my emphasis on the survey last week, I still have a couple of openings for my 5 FREE Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions.

If, as a small business leader, you like to improve the results you achieve with your employees, I encourage you to request a Strategy Session here at this link: www.RevolutionaryLeadershipCoaching.com/freestrategysession

’til next time, make it a great week!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results


Life Lessons from My Dad

It was February 3, 2003 at 6:35am eastern time, a Monday morning 11 years ago.

I received the inevitable phone call every son dreads.

My older brother was calling to tell me our father had died.

He died of a massive heart attack in the hospital as he was recovering from one earlier in the week.

My first thought was of gratitude for having spoken with my dad just 36 hours earlier, and telling him I loved him.

The past few days I’ve been thinking about the life lessons I got from my dad.

I’m troubled that I’m struggling to find them.

Dad was a man of few words when it came to life lessons.

Looking back it seems his philosophy was that it was best for me to learn things on my own.

But, if someone held a gun to my head I’d have to say it’s the work ethic.

He was someone who did what he had to do to support his family in a very blue collar, union job.

Every day I can remember he got up and went to work.

He never complained and never called out sick unless absolutely necessary.

As the “baby of the family,” some would say I was spoiled, yet despite that I developed a work ethic similar to my dad’s.

I learned by watching him.DAD_Navy

There is a picture of my dad in his World War 2 Navy uniform on the wall in our home’s stairwell. Like so many of his generation he was proud of his service for his country. I pass that photo dozens of times each day on the way to my home office.

Today I’ll be spending a few extra seconds each time I pass it, offering extra gratitude for the conscious and unconscious lessons dad left with me.

In honor of my dad, Mel, I’d like to ask you to post a comment below with one or more life lessons from your dad.

Looking forward to reading ‘em…

Make it a great week!

Best Regards,

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results


Ask Skip: How Can I Feel Compassion for an Employee Caught Lying & Is Being Deceptive?

All Ask Skip Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication”question here!


Last Friday, June 14th in my Power Word Series, I suggested “compassion” is a Power Word leaders the likes of  basketball hall of fame coach Phil Jackson, and hall of fame hockey player Mark Messier, have used as a key strategy in leading others to multiple championship seasons.

A subscriber to this blog sent me a direct email in response to that blog post asking:

“This is a great article and I am going through a management situation that may require compassion.  However if an employee is caught lying and is being deceptive, should compassion still be utilized? Thank You, Rich M.”

I’m certain this is a question others have asked themselves many times. And, like Rich, I know there are many other subscribers who are facing similar situations today. So, here is my answer to this very challenging leadership communication situation:

The short answer, Rich, is “YES!”

“Yes,” is the answer because being compassionate doesn’t mean that you agree with, or accept, the behavior, and that there will be no repercussions or punishment. It just means you see the other person as a human being with all the positive and negative traits we all have. It is my belief that all humans deserve compassion.

Approaching situations like this raise our level of consciousness and will also allow us as leaders to develop followers who feel trusted and will be willing to take risks. Taking risks is where all personal and professional growth comes from. Without, individuals and organizations become stagnant, and stagnancy leads to decline and death, literally and figuratively.

Here are some tips on how you can be compassionate in these type of situations:

The best way to be compassionate about this situation is to be curious. The reason curiosity is important on the path to compassion is because everything human beings do they do for a reason, and that reason ALWAYS has positive intent behind it. Human beings only do things for positive intent, no matter how destructive the behavior is.

For example, even the most destructive of all human behaviors, suicide, is done for positive intent. This is because the pain of living is so much stronger than the pain of death, and so the belief is that death will alleviate the pain.

So, get curious.

When getting curious the best way is to begin with “empathy.” Empathy is showing that you understand how another person is feeling and why.

From there understanding how a person feels and why they feel that way leads to an understanding as to why they behaved in a certain way, and its the understanding that leads to compassion.

Again, compassion doesn’t mean that you agree with or accept the behavior, nor that there will be no repercussions or punishment. It just means that you understand and care about the other individual as a human being and want to do the best thing for all concerned, instead of focusing on revenge and getting even, which is personally destructive to ourselves and not so much the perpetrator.

Does that make sense and/or help in any way?

Either way, leave a comment below and let me know so we can continue the discussion!

’til next time, make it a great week!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results


Ask Skip: Why Is It Important a Leader Communicate More Consciously?

Since my blog article a couple of weeks ago discussing the difference between communicating with our default habits vs. communicating more thoughtfully and consciously, I’ve received a number of comments, both on the blog and direct e-mails continuing the discussion.

This question came in via e-mail to me and I thought it was a great way to take the discussion even deeper.

The simple answer comes down to two things; it’s the difference between being proactive and influential vs. being reactive and influenced.

When business leaders communicate thoughtfully and consciously they are being proactive. When leaders are proactive in their approach it is much easier for followers to be inspired by them and to be positively influenced by them.

When business leaders allow their habits to be their default way of communicating they are reactive, trying to navigate and maneuver situations, having their decisions and actions influencked by those situations.

That’s the difference. It’s a powerful difference.

Leaders that communicate consciously and thoughtfully will develop the respect, trust of those they lead.

Leaders that continually communicate with their default habits (unconsciously) will struggle gaining the trust and respect of those they are leading. These leaders will forever be trying to figure out how to motivate their people to higher levels of performance.

Just my two cents, what do you think. Please leave a comment below.

’til next time, make it a great weekend!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results


Ask Skip: What Are Some Specific Tips to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace?

This question comes directly from a blog subscriber who has been reading my articles on teamwork the past couple of weeks. He thought the article last week (A Simple Step to Improve Teamwork at Your Workplace) offering one very specific tip to improve teamwork was a good one but was looking for more, so here are 5 more:

  1. Create an inspiring vision for the team objectives – Athletic teams are focused on getting to the “Championship Game.” In professional football its the “Super Bowl” in the United States. For international futbol, it’s the “World Cup Final.” For Major League Baseball, it’s the “World Series.”  What is it for your team? How can you define it in a way that inspires everyone to want to contribute at the highest level to help fulfill that vision?
  2. Set clear expectations at the very beginning – Let everyone know when they join the team what is expected of them regarding working as a team. As mentioned in last week’s article make it part of their performance expectations and performance review when appraisal time comes around. What gets measured gets done.
  3. Create a “Team Agreement” – Part of setting the clear expectations at the beginning should also include facilitating a process through which the team itself can create its own accountabilities and performance expectations for how they promise to interact with each other. One client in 2011 told me that having the team participate in creating this type of document, which all team members signed when it was complete, actually had team members regulating themselves and holding themselves accountable to acting consistent with what they agreed to. It can be a very powerful process for building a high-performing team.
  4. Address issues promptly, directly and respectfully – One of the biggest things that kills trust on teams is issues that are allowed to go on unaddressed. Team leaders will often let things fester, wishing and hoping they get better on their own, and they usually only get worse. The best leaders and individual team members have the self-esteem, the self-confidence and the communication skills to address issues promptly, directly and respectfully. I wrote extensively about the biggest communication mistakes in my white paper The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication (you can grab a FREE copy here).
  5. Apply the “Trading Deadlie” – If, after consistently applying the 4 steps above, team members are still not contributing to the level you need, then you must apply the “Trading Deadline” strategy. This is a metaphor based on what most professional sports leagues require a few weeks prior to the end of their regular season so teams can set their rosters for the post season playoffs. It is when team that believe they are contenders for the championship make changes to their roster and trade or release players who have not been a good fit and replace them with players they believe will be a better fit for their team.

So, those are 5 more specific tips to help you create a high-performing team at your workplace. If you have other specific questions I encourage you to join me at 12noon Eastern Time this Thursday, April 26th for a FREE Laser Coaching Webinar – during this webinar I will be taking your questions directly and doing Laser Coaching to give you a specific, direct solution you can apply to your specific issue.

You can register FREE hereChampionBusinessLeadership.com/laserwebinar

’til next time, make it a great week!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results


Ask Skip: How Can I Correct Bad Workplace Behavior That Has Been Allowed to Go On and On?

All Ask Skip Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication”question here!


This is a great question and probably one that many managers and business leaders would like to ask, so you are helping many by submitting this.

While there may be a number of different ways to address this problem, and some of my colleagues may be able to offer other suggestions, I strongly recommend what I call “The Clean Slate Strategy.”

7 Steps to Implement The Clean Slate Strategy:

  1. Decide to change the situation and commit to taking action to do so
    • This is no small step (as you may be aware), since this undesirable behavior has been allowed to perpetuate despite company leaders and direct supervisors of the perpetrator(s) being fully aware of it, and desirous of changing it.
  2. Agree that if the behavior has not been addressed to this point and has been ‘permitted’ to perpetuate, it is not the fault of the perpetrator. It is the fault of the supervisor for failing to effectively address the issue directly. (You may want to review my October 25, 2011 article 3 Reasons Underperforming Employees In Your Company Are Not At Fault
  3. Because of #2 above, decide that you are going to give the perpetrator “the benefit of the doubt” and let all past transgressions go. “Letting go” does not mean forgetting about them. It means addressing them directly and candidly using them as an example to explain specifically what the new expectations are moving forward.
  4. Create new behavior and performance expectations.
  5. Decide the best format to communicate the new behaviors and performance standards. Private, 1:1 conversation is recommended before expressing things to a group or team.
  6. Let the individual know there will be a probationary period for 90-days in which you are committed to holding regularly scheduled feedback discussions (weekly is recommended) to help them adapt to, and become comfortable with, the new performance expectations and behavior standards.
  7. Implement all of the above and maintain consistent application.

These 7 steps come from Managing for High-Performance & Retention a training and development program some of my best clients have implemented to improve performance and attitudes in their workplaces.

If the issues presented in this “Ask Skip” question are occurring in your workplace and you would like to discuss how specifically to apply this to your specific situation I recommend investigating the value of a private, 1:1 Leadership Communication Strategy Session, which you can read more about at this link.

’til next time, make it a great day!

skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance

If you have an issue you are dealing with in leading your team and/or organization that you would like answered in my “Ask Skip” column, click here to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here and you might just see your question answered here in the coming weeks. I also promise to reply directly so that you get the help you need when you need it.


Ask Skip: How Do I Deal With Employees Resistant to Change?

All Ask Skip Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication”question here!


This question is becoming more common in recent years as both globalization and greater local competition is causing a shift in business models in many industries to maintain viability.

Whether an organization is in need of changing its business model or not, performance management must always be a focus if a competitive edge is going to be maintained.

But, when a business model change requires a significant shift in the job descriptions and performance expectations of employees who have been with the organization for a long time and came to the organization based on job requirements that must adapt to a changing environment, it is especially important to have a process to evaluate personnel and maneuver through the change process.

Below is a model you can apply that will allow you to place your people in categories that can provide a strategy for addressing issues in a systematic way:

The personnel going through the change initiative in your organization are going to fall in to one of four categories, which are represented in the double-axis chart above.

Type 1 (Upper Left):
This individual has both a willing attitude and the personality and skill level necessary to make the adjustment and successfully adapt to the new job description and performance expectations. With this person you can just UNLEASH them to take action by giving them their marching orders and putting in a performance management process that will allow you to monitor their progress.

Type 2 (Upper Right):
This individual has both a willing attitude but does not have the personality and skill level necessary to make the adjustment and successfully adapt to the new job description and performance expectations. Since often attitude and willingness can be 80% of a person’s success, this person is worth investing time and energy in and is probably coachable. With this team member it is recommended to invest resources to COACH/TRAIN them for the opportunity to meet the new job expectations and see if they can continue to be a valuable contributor (Understand that the individual may or may not be able to meet the new performance standards but because they have the right attitude and have been a valued employee in the past, they are worth investing in to give them an opportunity. At some point they may become a Type 4 just because of their abilities and capabilities).

Type 3 (Lower Left):
Based on an evaluation of the person’s past performance and their personality and skill sets you believe the person has the capability of making the change successfully, but they have a resistant attitude and are initially unwilling to make the effort. With this team member it is recommended you invest time and energy in trying to INFLUENCE/COUNSEL them to see the value in making the change. and stepping up to the new job expectations. This can be done by pointing out both the positive natural consequences of the potential when they embrace the new job expectations and parameters, combined with what could be the natural and imposed negative consequences if they continue to be resistant.

Type 4 (Lower Right):
Based on an evaluation of the person’s past performance and their personality and skill sets you do not believe the person has the capability of making the change successfully, and they have a resistant attitude and are unwilling to make the effort. With this team member it is recommended you begin to find a strategy to move this individual out of the organization respectfully and compassionately as soon as possible (FIRE/RETIRE). This must be done in accordance with the employment laws in your local area and it is recommended you consult with an employment attorney to make sure you do it right and limit your legal exposure.

Hopefully this model can give you a framework in which to evaluate your team members so you can make decisions that will allow for the successful transition into the future.

If anyone reading this is going through a ‘change’ initiative and would like to assess their situation to identify specific strategies to move forward most effectively, click here to schedule a complimentary Championship Leadership Strategy Session.

’til next time, make it a great day!

skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance

If you have an issue you are dealing with in leading your team and/or organization that you would like answered in my “Ask Skip” column, click here to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here and you might just see your question answered here in the coming weeks. I also promise to reply directly so that you get the help you need when you need it.


Ask Skip: What’s the Easiest Way to Get People in the Workforce to Accept Coaching?

I get this question a lot these days because the concept of “coaching” is becoming so prevalent in the corporate and small business worlds.

First, you have to understand that not all feedback is coaching. Leaders and managers today tend to believe all their feedback is “coaching” and are surprised when their people respond defensively.

One thing I learned in working around professional athletes, whom you think would be open to “coaching” being that there are people called “coaches” all around them. Not so! Even some athletes are more coachable than others.how leaders can become better coaches in the workplace

Even in those situations the coach has to recognize the subject must be ready, willing and open to accepting coaching.

In the lower minor leagues of professional baseball, where I spent most of my baseball management career, we had athletes come into our ranks that were the very best in the nation in college. They had been successful doing it their way for many, many years. Few are open to coaching to change their approach just because a more experienced professional coach thinks they see something they can help the athlete with.

What many coaches at the lower levels of minor league baseball do at the outset is let the young professional ballplayer apply their way of doing it until they start failing and begin struggling trying to overcome their challenges. Then, the coach will step in because they athlete is more open to the feedback at that time.

That’s a long answer to being sure your subject wants to be coached. They may need to be coached, as you see it, but, unless they see it, you are going to continue to be frustrated by a lack of application, and defensive and passive aggressive responses.

Secondly, coaching works in athletics because performance expectations are very clearly articulated. Each athlete knows what is expected of them and knows what they are being counted on to produce as a team member. When productivity expectations are not being met, it is easier to bring that to the team member’s attention and then ask them if you can help them do their jobs more effectively.

If they say “yes,” great, go for it, and offer help in a way that respects their skill level, knowledge and humanity. Always communicate with respect, empathy and compassion.

If they say, “no,” let them go on their own a little while longer and offer them your support if they would like it any time as they move forward.

If performance continues to struggle and they have not yet asked for help, then you may need to be more direct and assertive letting them know that the help is no longer optional if they want to continue to be a team member.

I hope that effectively answers your question. Thank you for sharing it as I know others out there have probably been thinking about that, too.

’til next time, make it a great week!skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results

 


Happy Anniversary…To Me! You Should Celebrate Your Wins, Too!

Today, October 3, 2011 marks my 10th anniversary of being in business for myself, and the beginning of my second decade.

That is hard to believe.

But, true, it is.

That’s a total of 3,650 days since I last earned a paycheck from an employer other than myself. They say most new businesses fail within the first 3-5 years. So, I guess I’m a success?

Congratulations to me!

And, thank you for joining me on this wonderful journey. And, thank you to my wonderful wife, Anne, 10 years with my sometimes workaholic tendencies and mood swings solo entrepreneurs sometimes go through.

But, I am writing this blog post in this manner because I believe it is important for business professionals at all levels to be able to provide their own positive reinforcement.

Often, it is the only positive reinforcement for a job well done that we get. And, although we may lament that our superiors, co-workers and significant others do not give us the positive feedback and the credit we deserve for a job well done, we should be lamenting ourselves more.

Most of us fall into the category of being way too hard on ourselves, beating ourselves up for every mistake, failure, setback. We kick ourselves when we’re down, and we kick ourselves when we’re up because I should have done even better.  Maybe so, but why not enjoy the success at the level you achieved and learn from it and move on.

I often tell my clients they need to celebrate more. They need to create opportunities for their employees to celebrate their little successes along the way.

These celebrations don’t have to be elaborate or costly. Simple recognitions are fine.

I often use examples from athletics, such as:

  • In baseball, no matter what is happening in the game, winning or losing, when a batter hits a homerun and circles the bases, he always gets a congratulatory handshake from the coach as he rounds third base, a high-five when he crosses home plate from the next batter coming up and his teammates when returning to the dugout.
  • In football, after a touchdown is scored the player who brought the ball into the end zone and his teammates that helped him get it there have their little celebratory dance.

These are just two examples.

In your business, why not send a hand written note card to one of your teammates or subordinates after a job well done? Put together a Friday pizza lunch for your team after one of their teammates has a big success.

Little recognitions go a long way.

And, don’t forget to celebrate yourself like I’m doing today.

Now, I’m not taking any time off, or doing anything special because we just spent almost 3-weeks on a European vacation, which was the perfect way for me to celebrate and now its time to get back at it to help my clients even more    in the next decade.

One way I am going to celebrate this month and allow my subscribers to participate in that celebration is to offer two special opportunities. One is going to be the official launch of my newest product, The Confident Leaders’ Training Camp Home Study course, and special and very limited opportunities for a private, 1:1 Strategy Session with me.

Both of these will be launching this week. So, keep an eye out for those announcements.

’til then, make it a great week and Happy Anniversary to Me!

All the best!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results

 


Ask Skip: What Can I Do About Employees Spending Too Much Time Criticizing Their Co-Workers & Causing Ill-Will Amongst the Team?

All Ask Skip Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication”question here!


This subscriber added that “I’d like to find a way to put an end to this and build a true team.”

In order to solve this issue, like solving any issue, we have to identify the cause.

The cause could be many things, but in this instance I am going to take a shot at the cause.

What is most likely to be happening, which I’ve seen it in countless other clients I’ve worked with, is that this is a typical issue of “co-workers throwing each other under the bus.”

The cause of this is that the perpetrators of the co-worker criticism feel threatened in some way and they are doing this as a survival, self-preservation technique.

This type of behavior is also a sign of low self-esteem and self-confidence.

Now, as a leader it would be easy to put a stop to it by:

  • not allowing these type of conversations, and
  • creating all sort of rules and policies that have to be enforced by management.

This will create a “compliance culture.” Something you may or may not want. I would not recommend it because it is expensive and stressful to maintain.

This approach may put a stop to it in the short term.  And, it may keep it out of the public areas for while, but, chances are it will just move these type of discussions underground.

A better way to handle this is to raise the bar on the quality and the frequency of communication from the top of the organization throughout. Get all levels of employees engaged in conversations about what their concerns are, what challenges they are facing in doing their jobs to the best of their ability, discuss with them the business climate the company is facing and be as transparent as possible, and ask employees for ideas as to what they think are the best ways to overcome some of the challenges the company is facing.

In high-trust work environments employees come up with transformational ideas and the other time-wasting criticizing and blaming will significantly subside.

NOTE: You may never eliminate it entirely until you begin transforming the expectations of the employees about the type of work environment they want to create for themselves. Once this is done, you will start attracting a new quality of employee and those perpetuating the negative work environment will gradually be eliminated from the staff, either by attrition, conscious managing people out, or they will self-select themselves out of the now uncomfortable work environment they no longer fit.

Depending on the present level of trust and engagement in your company it may take awhile to turn this situation around as employees will be skeptical, cynical and fearful of sharing their ideas.

This is why an outside facilitator skilled in these type of team development meetings can make a difference. They can also coach the business leaders in what to say, how to say it and when to say it, in the meetings so that their communication creates the positive reaction everyone wants (this is part of Level 2 Leadership Communication, which you can read more about here). Otherwise, a leaders’ communication can sabotage the entire process and set the company back even further.

If this is an issue in your organization, I invite you to schedule a Strategy Session, where together we can explore what is happening and identify specific strategies you can apply to create the type of work environment that you prefer.

Click here to schedule your private, 1:1 Strategy Session.

’til next time, make it a great week!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results

 

 

 

 


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