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A Valuable Leadership Communication Lesson Revisited

I trust you are enjoying this holiday season and are preparing for a prosperous New Year in 2013. This is a great time of year for me as I always take the last two weeks of the year to reflect, review, renew and recommit for the new year, the arbitrary restarting point for personal and professional commitments.

Even though its arbitrary we might as well use it since the symbolism is so ubiquitously understood.

What are you doing to reflect, review, renew and recommit for 2013?

As I was reflecting over last weekend preparing for the holiday, I remembered back a powerful lesson on my path to obtaining my bachelor’s degree in communication.

I distinctly remember my professor, the first day of classes, welcoming us and reinforcing the fact we had made a great decision to study
communication, she said, “because you cannot not communicate.”

A simple but valuable lesson for me, one I’ve never forgotten. Although I left the field of communication for 20-years on a detour through my
professional baseball career, I used that lesson often.

Think about it!

We are always communicating. Even when we are silent, even when we are sleeping, we are communicating some message to the outside world.

Sometimes our communication is conscious, sometimes our communication is unconscious. But we are always communicating!

It’s my passion these days to help business leaders communicate consciously because the more consistently we communicate consciously, we will
begin to develop the unconscious communication habits that will drive our ability to influence
our environment, and those in it.

If you’ve read any of my writings in recent years you know there are 3 important levels of communication every leader must master,
consciously at first. If you are not aware of them, go here,
www.LeadershipCommunicationMasterySeries.com/3levels

If you are aware of them, and want to improve your ability to communicate at one or more of those levels, make 2013 the year you do, visit www.LeadershipCommunicationMasterySeries.com/3levels
to learn how.

When there, you will receive a special offer to join me for 28-days in February to begin transforming how you communicate at each of the 3 levels of high-performance leadership communication.

I look forward to serving you in 2013!

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

 

 

 

 

 

p.s. – There is a significant discount good only through December 31st you are going to want to check out so visit www.LeadershipCommunicationMasterySeries.com/3levels before its too late!


When Setting Goals in Strategic Planning Remember This Important Distinction

I’m pleased that I received so many comments last week in response to my new 4R Strategy for Results for businesses to apply in their strategic planning for 2013. The comments I received came both directly on the blog article itself and to me individually via e-mail.

Between those comments and a couple of client discussions I’ve had recently I want to make sure everyone is aware of an important distinction in goal setting.

There are two types of goals that often get confused in the strategic planning process:strategic planning and goal setting model, replaces the old SMART Goals formula

  • Means Goals
  • Ends Goals

Means Goals:
Means goals are the interim results we need to achieve on the way towards our ultimate desired outcomes.

Ends Goals:
Ends goals are the ultimate end result we desire to achieve

For example, in the work I do with my clients to help them achieve a high-performing, positive, productive and profitable work environment, which is often is defined with specific revenue and profit goals, this is their ultimate ends goal.

To make that ends goal achievable we have to achieve other things such as improving communication in the workplace, breakdown silos across the departments/divisions at various levels of the organization, improve teamwork, internal customer service, etc. These are the means goals.

Its important to understand this difference. If business leaders get stifled on means goals the results will also be less than what is ultimately possible because the means goals will be seen as the ends goals.

For both means goals and ends goals it is also important to define them in measurable terms. How will you know when you have achieved the goals. What evidence will you use to determine if you are effectively moving towards your desired objectives.

Hope these last two articles help as you plan for 2013, which is just around the corner.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

 


What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith Was Half-Right

Recently I’ve started quoting executive coach to millionaire CEOs Marshall Goldsmith from his book What Got You Here, What Won’t Get You There! (a book I strongly recommend to my clients who want to take themselves and their teams to the next level).

The book is written for executives who want to move up the corporate ladder. It explains that the primary thing keeping most men and women from getting their ideal position isn’t their knowledge, skills or experience in the technical, tactical or strategic activities in their present role, but their people skills. He offers many resources to build better soft skills in being better in influencing others around them in a positive manner.

I’ve been using that phrase in another context for the leaders of small businesses I’ve been working with this year. The context relates to their business as it presently exists and where they want to go with it.

It’s a great metaphor for getting to the next level in any endeavor. It’s a metaphor all business leaders should be using.

When I was delivering this message in a client’s team development workshop an audience member made the point that the statement is only 0ne-half to two-thirds true. In making his point he made sure I understood that he had some habits and traits that significantly contributed to his success to this point in his life and were still very valid to help him get to the next level. I had to agree with him.

If we’ve achieved any level of success in our life or business we have done some things right. Some of those things we should keep doing because they work and they will continue to work at any level. Some will not and need to be changed.

The key is knowing the difference!

The key is knowing what to keep from the behaviors that got us to where we are, and then being honest with ourselves, our employees and even our customers/clients to let go of what will no longer serve us on our journey to the next level. That’s where a business coach can help.

Coaching Exercise Question:
If you were completely honest with yourself what are three habits, behaviors, tendencies, skills you must change or improve to get you and/or your business to the next level?

(If you’ve got the guts, share you answer and make a public commitment below, and get the final third of the year off to a great start, who’s game?)

’til next time, make it a great weekend!

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

 


“As Soon As Possible” Is Just NOT Acceptable In Leadership & Workplace Communication

Every time I hear an outgoing voice mail message state, “please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible,” I cringe.

Whenever I read an e-mail requesting that I respond “as soon as possible,” I smile and shake my head.

It doesn’t seem to matter at what level of an organization the individual works in, this phrase ubiquitous.

It’s also a waste of time, literally and figuratively. Why? Because…

  1. It violates Leadership & Workplace Communication Sin #1 – A Lack of Specificity!
  2. It says absolutely nothing and means nothing, it is one of the emptiest phrases in the english language.
  3. It puts the person to whom it is being communicated to in a state of uncertaintyUncertainty is one of the worst human emotions we can experience. Why would we want to put another human being in that state?

Additionally, it is simply weak, powerless communication. Or as one of my mentors Anthony Robbins would say, “it is loser language!”

Most often this weak, powerless communication comes from organizational leaders that need to influence others to get things done. Then, they are left wondering why they are constantly waiting for people to get things done for them on time and at deadline (if, necessary).

Communicating in this manner is the cause of three problems in the workplace:

  1. Stress
  2. Mis-communication and mis-understandings
  3. Low productivity and missed deadlines

Call my voice mail and you will hear a specific commitment for a reply, “I promise to return your call by voice, e-mail or text within 3 hours.”

I get a lot of comments from people who leave a message for me regarding that commitment, mostly surprise, and others letting me know if they call after hours I do not need to reply late into the evening and my reply can wait. Its rather humorous!

You don’t need to have a commitment with as short a turn around as my three hours, but you must give some certainty to when someone can expect a reply. Make it 4-hours, by the end of the day, within 24 hours, by the end of the week, month, etc. whatever, just give people certainty as to when they will hear back from you.

This “as soon as possible” phrase also needs to be eliminated in other areas of our business. Especially when we are making a request of someone. How many times do we ask something of someone with less than a specific deadline, such as,

“Please get this back to me with your comments ‘as soon as possible.’ ”

Or maybe you are communicating with your spouse about coming home from the office at the end of the day and you say, “I’ll be home as soon as possible.” I’m sure this happens often in relationships and we wonder why “communication” erodes overtime in intimate personal relationships.

What does that phrase mean?

How long can you wait to reply? Technically, forever.

“As soon as possible” is in the eye, and within the realm, solely of the person responding. The person, probably you, making the request loses control of the issue and their (your) ability to influence the timing of any response.

If you want to be a more powerful leader and be able to influence people to follow you in a very positive, direct way, lose the phrase “as soon as possible,” immediately. Oooops, I mean, before the end of this week and by that I mean take the first step by changing your outgoing voice mail message by 5pm Eastern time, this Friday, July 27th.

If you’d like to become an even more powerful team leader, or leader of a small business team of employees, you are going to want to join me this coming Tuesday, July 31st at 4pm for my newest webinar, “Avoiding the 5 Critical Mistakes of Small Business Leadership.”

You can register free at this link: www.ChampionBusinessLeadership.com/5Mistakes

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

 


Leadership Communication Lesson #5: Don’t Think Outside the Box, Get Outside the Box

Last night’s show in Florence as another amazing effort by Bruce and the band. This trip, among other amazing things, has been a lesson in customer service. I’ve never seen more than 2 consecutive concerts before, despite my long list of shows. To see a performer exceed expectations night after night, with hard core, tough to please fans is truly awe inspiring and is something every business owner needs to take a lesson from. Bruce and the band continue to do that night after night.

Tonight, the long strange trip concludes with a concert in Trieste, Italy. If you’d like to catch up on my most recent photos from the trip go to Facebook .



Just prior to leaving on this trip I read a book for the second time in the last twelve months that I highly recommend. It’s called Leadership & Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute.

This book is a must read for every:

  • business leader
  • every husband, wife
  • every son, daughter
  • every brother, sister
  • every employee in a company

In my future consulting projects it will probably become a must read for all my clients before we ever start an engagement.

The entire premise of the book involves “out of the box”thinking, but not in the context we always hear about it.

This isn’t about creativity and innovation.

This is about self-awareness and avoiding at all costs what the books reveals at “self-betrayal.”

We do this to ourselves all the time, and then blame others and look for ways to justify our feelings about the other person to make them wrong and us right.

I thought I was good at being self-aware and taking responsibility for my thoughts and actions and looking to help others, but this book, just a few short minutes into reading it opened my eyes to all the ways I’ve been “in the box.”

You see thinking  to get “outside the box” means we are always communicating consistent with who we believe we are and how we aspire to be when we are our best “selves.”  In being “outside the box,” we are always looking at others, no matter who they are or where they come from or what they say or do to us as people, as human beings with real feelings, needs and desires to be met, and NOT as “objects” as we so often do.

It is impossible for me to do the book justice. You just have to read it to learn for yourself.

I get nothing from this recommendation other than helping make the world a better place and the strategies offered in this book, when consistently applied can do that, one person, one-conversation at a time.  Order this book today and read it cover to cover. It took me about 3-4 hours to read and I’m a very slow reader so I know you can knock it out in no time!

Leadership & Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
(*a must read if you want to transform your Self-Communication)



Enjoy the book, read it and leave a comment about it below and when I get back home next week after speaking at a Project Management Institute conference in Syracuse, New York, I look forward to having deeper discussions on this topic.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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


What Business Leaders Can Learn from the Decision to Put Jeremy Lin in the Lineup

On February 4th the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association were at the bottom of the league’s standings having won just 8 of their first 23 games, a 35% winning percentage. The team has appeared in the NBA’s post-season playoff picture just once (2011) since 2004, and hasn’t won a game in the post-season since 2004.

Struggling on the court in this lockout shortened season and decimated by injuries Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni had no other option than to insert unknown, often overlooked and cast aside Jeremy Lin into the starting point guard position.

What has happened since is now known in New York and throughout the sports world as “Linsanity,.” With Lin in the lineup the team has won 8 of 9 games putting itself back in the playoff picture. Lin has sparked the team scoring more points than any other player in the history of the NBA in his first four career starts. Over the ensuing five games holding now an average of 25 points and more than 9 assists in starting those 9 games since February 4th.

You may be asking yourself, what does all this have to do with business leadership, employee engagement and motivation? Plenty!

There are employees in your organization with untapped skills, talents and interests chomping at the bit to have something that inspires them to contribute at a higher level. It’s your job as the organization or team’s leader to tap into that dormant potential contribution.

If there is one thing Lin didn’t lack it was self-confidence and he was sitting on the benches of three NBA team chomping at the bit to be able to contribute in a way that could make a difference. He was only given a chance as a last resort. He was probably the last option D’Antoni had to save his job as the coach of the one of the highest valued franchises in professional basketball in the world’s largest market.

Lin has saved his coach’s job for a few more months and potentially, even years.

Earlier in my professional baseball career serving as the leader of my final team, I hired an individual, whose name is Steve, that my boss, the owner of the franchise didn’t want me to hire. Fortunately, despite having significant experience working with this individual he didn’t make it entirely clear to me that that was his position, but he strongly intimated that desire. At the end of the day he left the decision up to me.

In going through my hiring process, the interview and background due diligence not only could I not see a reason not to hire this individual, I thought his background, his skills, talents and attitude was just what we needed.

Despite being originally defined as a “C” student, my boss’ code for not being a high-performer, this individual proved my hiring decision to be right. It took at least 3 years for Steve and I to turn around the attitude of our boss and to have him see Steve as a high-performer with future potential within the organization.

Today, Steve is now president and ceo of one of the companies in that organization.

What it took to make my hiring decision work was a simple conversation offering Steve the opportunity to join me in the challenge of changing the attitude and impression of the person holding the key to our professional success at the time. Steve was more than up to the challenge.

There are many Steves in your organization, here are the steps to pull them out

  1. Raise the performance standards and expectations in your organization.
  2. Define the specific and related performance expectations you’d like to see from the individuals on your team.
  3. Create an inspiring reason and purpose for the change that will connect to every individual’s innate human need to make a difference.
  4. Have a candid, private conversation with each of the individuals, clearly articulating those new expectations and discussing how their higher level of contribution will make a difference and to whom that difference will be made
  5. Offer training, development, support and coaching to help them step up to the new role

Follow those 5-steps and I believe you will be pleasantly pleased by the response. And along the way you will be raising the self-esteem and self-confidence of those on your teams while improving performance results for your organization, just like the NY Knicks are experiencing thanks to Jeremy Lin and Linsanity that has erupted this month!

If you’d like a model to follow that will support the five steps above, visit www.EmployeeMotivationEquation.com and download the free report and assessments there.

’til next week,

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


Are You Ready for “Goldilocks Leadership?” Read Below to Find Out If Your Leadership Style is “Just Right”

We’ve all heard the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears as a child.

How this brave, young girl ventures into the home of a bear family while they are away and samples their food and sleeping amenities.goldilocks leadership communication style

This little girl is somewhat particular and discards 67% of the items she samples, some food she tastes is too hot, some too cold, and one is ‘just right.” Same with the beds she samples, one is too hard, one is too soft with the third being ‘just right.’

In last week’s blog post These 2 Different Leadership Styles Cause the Same Negative, Toxic and Unproductive Workplace Cultures I wrote about the two diametrically opposed leadership styles I typically find when I begin working with a client that is struggling with poor attitudes, communication and productivity in their work environment.

I was amazed to realize that two totally opposite leadership styles can cause the same outcome in human behavior in the workplace.

Today I want to offer what I am calling today the “Goldilocks Leadership” style, which when compared to the “Command & Control” style vs. the “Avoid & Let Go” style I outlined last week, is the “Just Right” leadership style that will maximize morale, motivation and productivity in your work environment.

Work environments led by “champion leaders” that practice “just right” leadership have these characteristics:

  • Results oriented
  • Take initiative on their own
  • Limited oversight needed, high levels of trust people will follow through on assigned tasks, projects, commitments, etc.
  • Diligent on meeting deadlines
  • Have confidence to make decisions or identify and suggest possible solutions for problems
  • Offer to help, chip in for/with co-workers
  • See things as “us” and “win/win”
  • Creative and will take reasonable risks
  • Punctuality, attendance high, and turnover low
  • Do the right thing based on best interests of the company, co-workers, etc.
  • Positive attitudes permeates
  • CYA – Celebrate Your Achievements (& co-workers)

If that’s the type of work environment you’d like to create as a leader of your organization or team, here’s the “just right” leadership style you need to lead with:

  • Set high standards
  • Set realistic, yet challenging expectations
  • Communicate with humility, empathy and compassion to gain buy-in and commitment to the performance standards and expectations
  • Apply behavior and performance standards consistently and equitably to all
  • Have a clearly defined, inspirational vision that is consistently communicated and reinforced regularly
  • Have an open mind
  • Readily asks for other ideas & input
  • Accepts and considers respectfully delivered feedback
  • Trusts people to do their job with acceptable levels of measurements and accountability
  • Engage in discussions to help everyone improve, practice Kaizen (constant and never-ending improvement)
  • Offer consistent positive feedback
  • Allow for mistakes as learning opportunities and be solution focused when mistakes problems arise
  • Address behavior/performance issues promptly, directly & respectfully
  • Have regular discussions to learn how you can help your people do their jobs easier and better

I’m sure there are some traits I’m missing but this is a good start.

If you’d like some help with this, you may want to consider joining me for the 2012 Leadership Communication Mastery Series, which includes 10-lessons on leadership communication, you can learn more and register when you’re ready here!

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

Delegation Is a Risky, But Necessary Business

  • One of the biggest challenges young organizational leaders struggle with is delegation.
  • One of the biggest challenges more veteran leaders struggle with is delegating effectively.

Both are issues I deal with in my coaching of executives and team leaders on a regular basis.

The reason this is so challenging for leaders at all levels of experience is due to the risk involved with letting go. Because, one of the cardinal rules of delegation is that even though you are letting go of the process of achieving a certain objective, you are not letting go of the responsibility for achieving that objective. And, let’s face it, who wants to risk our reputation by putting it in someone else’s hand who we may or may not have confidence in fulfilling that objective as we would?

As my recent NY Rangers hockey season came to an end in the first round of the NHL Playoffs I again found a great example from a newspaper story about one of the playoff games that I think speaks to this delegation challenge extremely well.

It’s a great lesson for leaders on delegation (the full article appeared in the New York Post on April 20, 2011):


“This is what Rangers coach John Tortorella means when he talks throughout the season of making situational personnel decisions with an eye toward the future. (something all leaders need to do to develop their people and create a pipeline for succession)

There were both 1:39 remaining in the third period and 24 seconds remaining of four-on-four play after Brandon Dubinsky gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead against the Capitals in Sunday’s Game 3, presenting the coach with the decision of which forwards to send out to defend the lead.

Tortorella chose rookie (1st year) Derek Stepan and sophomore (2nd year) Artem Anisimov, neither of whom had been close to the top of their respective games but who combined with rookie (1st year) defensemen Michael Sauer and Ryan McDonagh to get the job done against (veteran) forwards Jason Arnott and Mike Knuble and defenseman Mike Green and Karl Alzner to cement the victory that sends the Rangers into tonight’s Game 4 at the Garden down 2-1 in the series.

(the key quote and lesson in all this is below):
‘All year, the coach did such a good job with me of putting me in situations to prepare me for that shift,’ Stepan told The Post. ”that gave me the confidence to be able to get the job done.

Anisimov told The Post that he relished the opportunity.

‘For the coach to put me on the ice at that time, I wanted to play as smart and as hard as I could,” he said. “For him to think I could do the job made me feel very good.”‘

 

‘I have faith in them,’ said Coach Tortorella.”


OK, I promise, this is my last article that references the New York Rangers for at least five months, but I can’t promise no more lessons from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The important point being that the coach took a risk on putting his inexperienced players into difficult situations during the regular season so they could be prepared for key assignments during more critical time in the playoffs.

If you want to develop your people look for low(er) risk situations to hand things off to them. Then let them find their way and even, yes, let them fail. Use those failures and mistakes as teachable moments. This will create an environment where your people are willing to step up and take on new challenges for the learning experience because they are comfortable making mistakes and learning from them.

You, your people, your team and your organization will benefit over the long term.

Here are some additional resources on delegation:

 

This is such as an important part of leadership that I’ve included “Delegation for Development: Yours and Theirs” as one of the 6 core lessons in the Confident Leaders’ Training Camp that just finished lesson 1 this week. It’s not too late to get on board, you can learn more at www.ConfidentLeadersTrainingCamp.com

’til next time, have a great weekend!

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


Leaders Get to Make Only the Tough Decisions – Here’s How to Embrace ‘Em

If you tuned in to the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show on Fox-TV in the United States late in the afternoon last Sunday (February 6) you might have seen Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama.

I thought the President made a very interesting point about the decisions a president gets to make.

He basically pointed out that all the easy decisions which others on his team can make get made and the only ones that come to him are the difficult ones.

The decisions a president has to make are the ones that no one else has been able to figure out or that have to be made at the highest level because of their impact on the nation and its people.

I think its the same in business.

And, ideally, this is the best of all scenarios.

This means the organizational leader has set up competent subordinates ready, willing and able to make decisions. In this scenario the leader does not micro-manage and allows his people to make decisions within the scope of their level of authority.

To get to this point, however, a leader must apply these four key steps to make it work for all concerned:

  1. Clearly define the parameters of the authority and decision-making of each position;
  2. Clearly articulate the organization’s vision and that department’s role in helping to achieve that vision so the head of that department understands the impact of decisions they will be making;
  3. Trust the person they’ve put in the position to make decisions under those guidelines and leave them alone;
  4. Check-in and debrief key decisions to monitor and provide feedback.

If you’d like to learn more about strategies such as these to lead your organization like a CHAMP Leader and gain the confidence you need to lead like a CHAMP – go to www.SecretsOfConfidentLeaders.com to download the recording of my free teleclass –

“The Secrets of Confident Leaders: How to Lead So Others Enthusiastically Follow.”

’til next time, make it a great week,

skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance


Step 6 in “The 6 Steps to Becoming the LEADER of a Champion Organization:” R=Reinforce Your Championship Culture

As we come to the end of this series its time to share what may be the most important step in the entire process.

The first five steps were about creating the Championship Culture, and this step is vital to ensuring its sustainability.

A recent prospective client I spoke with became very excited about having me work with their company to help them develop their Championship Culture. And, then just before we parted company for me to craft a proposal outlining our scope of work she said to me,

“You know my only fear in all this is that everyone will play along while you are working with us holding us accountable to it, but as soon as you leave everyone will revert back to their old attitudes and behaviors.”

I said, “that is a very real concern and I don’t want to see you waste the time, energy and financial resources either. That’s why we will work together to make sure the people here at the end of this initiative are the ones who want to be here to carry the culture forward.”

That’s why this final step is key. It is the final piece to the puzzle. It is the one recipe ingredient that must be added after the cake comes out of the oven. Hmm, I guess we can say its the icing on the cake, so to speak.

Although it is the final “step” in the Champion LEADER model, it really is integrated early in the process. The power of this step is that it allows for flexibility and refinement on an on-going basis because it really is about constantly being open to feedback and making appropriate adjustments to maintain the culture that has been created.

There are 3 key components of this step:

  • Creating a “Team Agreement” – A “Team Agreement” is a simple document that lists no more than 6-8 commitments as to what team members promise to each other as to how they will work together so they can be most effective.
  • Implementing “The Performance Log” – This is a way for managers and their direct reports to simply and consistently document successes, challenges, areas for improvement and requests for help. In the best organizations this simple process is done monthly between the manager and the direct report and takes no more than 5-minutes to complete the form, and a 15-minute discussion for review.
  • “Clear the Swamp” Regularly – This is an activity that allows for identifying obstacles to improved performance. It allows individuals and teams to feel heard. It also gives the organization/team leaders an opportunity to receive feedback as to the team (or an individual) roadblocks getting in the way of better results. This can be done in a group setting if there is high-trust between team members with a leader leading with humility or 1:1. For an organization to create a Championship Culture and to be healthy long-term, this must be part of the process.

If you’d like to learn more about “The 6 Steps to Becoming a the LEADER of a Champion Organization” and how you can apply them directly into your organization to improve its personnel and profits in 2011, download the complimentary Teleseminar here.

’til next time, make it a great week!
skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance


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