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Don’t Blame Negative, Under-Performing Employees – 3 Reasons They Are Not at Fault

In a recent survey 44% of small business owners reported being unhappy with the performance of their employees.

To solve this type of problem, small business owners must first identify the cause and then create applicable solutions. There can be many reasons why employees under-perform and some leaders may point to poor attitudes, low motivation, low morale and individuals’ inability to work with others, or accept and adapt to change.

Although those reasons may be valid on the surface, there are always underlying issues that have led to the causes identified by the business leader.

The good news is that there are only two aspects to evaluate with under-performing employees. It’s either due to an individual’s:

  • ability, or
  • their attitude.

In either instance, the employee is not at fault.

(If you’d like help distinguishing whether its an ability or attitude issue and the communication issues that may have caused it and how better communication can fix it – let’s have a conversation. To schedule a free, no obligation Workplace Communication Assessment Strategy Session, go here now)

There are three primary communication mistakes business leaders make that prevent employees from being engaged in their workplace and contributing at higher levels:

Business Leader Mistake #1 – Not Giving Employees a Reason to be Engaged, Motivated & Contribute

Many business leaders mistakenly believe that providing someone the privilege of a steady income and certain quality of life via a paycheck should be enough to create a motivated employee.

Yet, studies continue to show that salary and benefits, although important for providing base levels of motivation, is not enough to generate higher levels of engagement.

Many managers and leaders say they are frustrated with the feeling they have to continually find ways to light a fire under their people to get them to do what needs to be done. Instead they should be investing energy in connecting to their employees on a personal level to instead find ways to light a fire within them.

One extremely effective way to do this is to apply the Employee Engagement Equation.

The Employee Motivation Equation begins with creating an inspiring vision for the company that employees at all levels will be excited to contribute to. Daniel Pink, in his 2010 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us identified “Purpose” as one of the key motivating components for a 21st Century workforce.

Business Leader Mistake #2 – Creating a De-Motivating Environment

In any new relationship there is always a honeymoon period where all the parties involved have good feelings about the possibilities moving forward. It’s the same when a new hire joins a company.

Unfortunately, a survey of about 1.2 million employees at mostly Fortune 1000 companies in the early part of this century conducted by Sirota Survey Intelligence, and revealed in 2005 that in 85% of companies, employee morale sharply declines after an employee’s first six months on the job, and continues to fade in ensuring years.

In a significant number of companies, as this Sirota research shows, something is occurring in these work environments that causes an enthusiastic and engaged employee to change their attitude.

Many factors can be attributed to this drop off, some of which include:

  • Poorly communicated job descriptions and responsibilities causing uncertain performance expectations for the individual,
  • Inequity in managers addressing inappropriate behaviors and poor performance of co-workers,
  • Managers that play favorites and communicate disrespectfully in the workplace,
  • Lack of positive feedback for contributions made

Business Leader Mistake #3 – Making a Wrong Hiring Choice

In the haste to fill positions, often those making the hiring decisions fail to invest enough time in making sure the new hire is a good fit for the position.

A “good fit’ includes assessing skills, knowledge, attitude, talent, and the education and experience a prospective team member will bring into the work environment. I call this the S.K.A.T.E. Hiring Profile (Skills, Knowledge, Attitude, Talent, & Education/Experience).

Additionally, sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances employees are asked to fill roles not originally intended, and for which their skills and talents are not the best fit.

In these situations, despite the employee’s best efforts he or she is unable to meet desired performance expectations, causing both the employee and the employer become disenchanted with the relationship. Yet, the onus must be on the employer to get it right when inviting someone into his or her work culture, and when asking a team member to take on additional work responsibilities.

What You Can Do

Before proclaiming employees are unmotivated, and/or unwilling, to perform to expectations and bring positive attitudes to the work environment start evaluating these three workforce mistakes from an organizational leadership and communication perspective to see where there is room for improvement.

Remember that it comes down to only two causes. It is either an ability problem or an attitude problem. too many times training and coaching are provided as solutions to an attitude problem, which is a huge waste of resources. As you might imagine, fixing an attitude problem is much different, and much harder, than an ability problem, in most cases.

Here are 3 steps to get you started:

  1. First step is to get clarity there.
  2. Second, once you make that decision, know that for whichever you choose, the foundational cause of that situation is some form of communication.
  3. Third, decide on the best way to approach the situation and the individual.

(If you’d like help distinguishing whether its an ability or attitude issue and the communication issues that may have caused it and how better communication can fix it – let’s have a conversation. To schedule a free, no obligation Workplace Communication Assessment Strategy Session, go here now)


Creating Championship Performance in the Business World

The spring is a great time to be a sports fan in the United States as:

  • March Madness crowns the annual collegiate basketball champion.
  • Professional basketball and hockey leagues start the most interesting segments of their seasons with their extensive 16 team playoff tournaments in the NBA and NHL.
  • All Major League Baseball teams are in first place as April’s Opening Day kicks off the quest to become this year’s World Series Champion.

As the focus moves towards crowing champions in professional sports its perfect time to look inside your small business work environment to assess if your team of employees is performing at a championship caliber.

For small business workplaces to generate championship caliber results there are of five traits the leader of those small businesses should expect from their employees and workplace teams, while also incorporating the same five traits within the overall context of the workplace culture and, most importantly, their own behavior.

Those five traits spell the word C.H.A.M.P.:

C = Commitment: It takes a deep commitment from every team member to consistently perform at the highest level every day to win a championship. Are the employees in your small business committed to achieving that level of success, and is an inspiring “championship game” vision in place to foster that commitment? (What is your small business’ World Series, Super Bowl or Stanley Cup?)

H = Humility: Humility is a trait that is often in short supply in small business work environments. Small business leaders must foster the trait of humility within their company’s culture, and lead with it themselves, so that team members are also open to feedback, always looking for ways to improve. Athletes know they have to get better on the path towards the championship as the competition continues to get tougher every step of the way.

A = Accountability: The only way championship caliber performance is created and maintained is through accountability. Individual team members must be open to being held accountable to their performance and the small business leader must create a culture of accountability with systems in place to make it work.

M = Motivated with High Morale: Championship caliber team members are motivated for all the right reasons that include both personal and team rewards and want to contribute to a high morale team. Championship small business owners understand that rewards for team success must be part of the incentive package for achieving results that take a cohesive group or team effort and have in place processes that maintain high levels of morale.

P = Proactive & Positive: Team members committed to contributing to a championship effort know they must be proactive in fulfilling their role because their role impacts all others on the team, and the group’s ability to achieve desired results. Because they understand that high morale is important, all team members show up with a positive mindset and approach that supports the team’s collective efforts.

Imagine if the employees in your small business brought the five traits of a championship team member to the work environment every day.

Make it an expectation of everyone on your staff, and commit to it yourself to be the role model, and you and your employees will achieve great things together.

If you’d like other tips to transform your company, including my latest white paper report The Missing Ingredient to Improving Employee Performance” go to

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

’til next time, Lead Like a C.H.A.MP.!


Business Lessons from This Week’s Championship Football Games

skip weisman championship ring representing championship small businessesAs a business leader there are many lessons to be learned from the failure of the Green Bay Packers to win their League Championship Game this past Sunday.

Football, and most sports, are perfect metaphors for business success and Sunday’s meltdown by the Packers offer a couple of lessons regarding the necessary combination of strategy, tactics and execution that create champions in athletics and in business:

#1) Strategy Never fails in the design:
The Packers seemed to have an adequate strategy to beat the Seahawks, anytime a team has a significant lead late in a game; it is obvious the initial strategy was correct.

#2) Tactics – Never fail until executed:
The tactics identified to be part of the “game plan” to move the strategy forward all seem great on paper, but until executed in the field of play against real competition, you’ll never know.

#3) Execution – Ultimately determines success:
At least 90% of the time execution determines success on the athletic field. The investment in scouting the opposition to know tendencies provides more than enough information to create a strategy with a tactical game plan to ensure success. The difference between winning and losing is in how each team executes at critical junctures in the game.

As you look to build your “championship” company or project team in 2015 here are three questions you should be asking:

  • Have you and your company/team leaders invested enough time to create a “championship strategy” you’re confident will get you where you want it to be? Hint: Winging it is not a strategy!
  • Have you and your company designed the tactical game plan that will allow you to move consistently towards your objectives. Do those tactics include consistent performance management processes to track progress and make course corrections?
  • Are you confident in your team members ability to effective execute the tactics on the “field of play” that are necessary to successfully fulfill the strategy?

Strategy, Tactics and Execution, all three components must come together at the right times to create a championship performance in business and in sports.

The Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots got all three right last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts didn’t.

Who will get all three right on Super Bowl Sunday?

Stay tuned!

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

Never Thought I Could Do This (it’s all about “Level 1 Leadership Communication”)

SkipGuitarCalgaryStageA phone conversation last fall led to a huge, unexpected breakthrough for me.

It came from the emcee of a large event at which I was speaking.

She called calling to get information about me for her introduction and a little humorous post keynote banter.

Towards the end of our conversation she asked, “Skip, what is your secret talent?”

I let out a nervous laugh and replied, “I have no secret talent, my older brother got all the talent in my family.”

I proceeded to tell about how my infatuation with rock and roll superstar Bruce Springsteen led me to start guitar lessons six years ago.

To which she suggested, “so you can play and sing a song for us.”

“No, I couldn’t do that, it would cause mass evacuation of the venue,” I said.

“You could just strum a few chords, couldn’t you?”

I agreed to that.

Deep down I knew strumming a few chords wasn’t going to be enough.

I hung up the phone thinking, “what did I just get myself into?”

Immediately, I sent a text that read, “HELP!” to my guitar instructor, with whom I had not had a lesson in more than 15 months.

For the next six weeks we rehearsed the song closest to being ready for “prime time.”

Six weeks later, in front of an audience of 800, I delivered a 50-minute keynote address.

Despite the audience size I was completely comfortable doing that.

Not so much with the guitar and singing.

But, there I was, with a guitar wrapped around my neck telling the story about how I had come to put myself in this precarious position and being totally uncomfortable in that moment.

It was the most intense “comfort zone busting” experience I’ve had in a very, very long time.

When it was all over, I was energized and excited having done something in front of 800 people my wife thought I was crazy to do. (to view my performance, go here)

I felt this way despite nerves taking me seriously off key to open the song. Plus, losing my place glancing down at the lyrics in the monitor I didn’t need.

I am now working on refining that song and incorporating four others to prepare for performing at an open mic night somewhere locally.

Our comfort zones hold us back in ways we don’t even realize.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda is the lament of losers. It’s all about our Level 1 Leadership Communication (aka “self-communication).

What comfort zone do you need to bust through in 2015?

What comfort zones are you committed to busting through in 2015?

Leave a comment and commitment below.

’til next time, Communicate with Power!

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


“You’re So Easy To Dismiss…”

In an old Seinfeld sitcom episode, Jerry and George are having one of their discussions at the diner.

George makes a comment and Jerry puts him down.

George replies, “Don’t dismiss this. You’re very quick to dismiss.”

There is a lot of dismissing going on in the workplace today.

Just last week I was delivering my workshop on “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication” and a director admitting to being dismissive of one of her direct reports.

It was during my segment on “Communication Sin #4, A Lack of  Respectful ReBUTals.”

She said, “I just did that earlier today.”

I asked her if she would tell us about it and she said,

“One of my people came to me with an idea and I thanked her for coming to me and then I said, ‘but, we can’t do that here, it won’t work.”

Ideas are the seeds of innovation.

Since the dawn of time innovation is what has brought us to the most exciting time in the history of the world.

Since the Industrial Revolution innovation has driven growth and success.

Without ideas organizations become stagnant.

Stagnancy leads to decline!

Decline leads to decay!

Decay leads to death!

Many organizational leaders allow ideas to be brought forth only from a precious few chosen people.

Those in the inner circle.

The best ideas come from the front line personnel who are in the trenches seeing first hand how things really work.

Yet, those are the ones who get dismissed most.

Once dismissed, rarely does that same person come back to try again.

Any ideas die with that individual.

They stop thinking, they stop trying, they start going through the motions.

“Leadership Communication Sin #4 – A Lack of Respectful ReBUTals” is the cause.

For once George Costanza was right, “Don’t dismiss, you’re very quick to dismiss!”

Many of us often are.

Please leave a comment.

’til next time make it a great weekend & Communicate With Power!


P.S.- To have 52 Power Words sent to you weekly for the next year, go to to subscribe today!

UnPower Communication Phrase #2 for you to STOP…

Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin turn over in their graves whenever this phrase is attributed to them.

Every day they must be spinning like a top.

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity.”

The problems I have with this statement are many but I’ll bore you with just a couple:

  1. There is no accurate attribution of this phrase to those two gentleman anyone can find. How did they get associated with it?
  2. Insanity is a much more serious mental health affliction and deserves a proper diagnosis and it is disingenuous, at best, to use it in this manner. It devalues the issue of mental health as a serious affliction.
  3. It is not 100% true. It is not true 100% of the time in all contexts, just like its sister phrase I wrote about last time.

Personally, if I do something over and over again, I better expect a different result.

Isn’t that what learning and practice is ALL about.

If I practice the guitar and play the same chord progression over and over, shouldn’t I get better and expect a different result?

If not, why bother practicing at all?

Same with athletes and cooks.

Same with math students.

Stop throwing around this phrase as gospel and start thinking for yourself.

Question this and other similar phrases thrown out as universal truths the next time you hear one, then send it to me to add to my “UnPower Communication Series.”

Please, leave a comment.

This phrase, and it’s sister phrase you’ll read about next time, is now part of my “UnPower Communication Series.”

If you have any words or phrases you detest and believe are “UnPower Communication” I want to hear about them.

Email me at and I’ll write about them, if appropriate.

’til next time make it a great day & Communicate With Power!

Best Regards,


P.S.- To triple your ability to communication with impact over the next year, get 52 Power Words sent to you, one per week for a year at to subscribe today!

This Phrase IS Just Plain Wrong, Stop Saying It…

Time for me to rant.

There are two phrases that drive me crazy and people have to stop saying them as if they’re gospel.

The first one is “if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got!”

It has a nice ring to it.

And, it is not accurate, in so many ways!

Will a car dealer in business since the 1980s selling cars the way he/she always sold cars, get what they always got in terms of sales?


The Internet has changed the car sales game!

I’m 54 years old.

If I “always eat and drink what I’ve always eaten and drunken, will I get what I always got” back in my 20s?

NO, I’d be a fat big!

These types of phrases, I have another coming up for you in a few days, are called “Universals,” or “Globalizations.”

It means they are phrased in a way that makes them true in all circumstances, 100% of the time.

The last 20 years has seen this phrase, and it’s sister I’ll rant about in a few days, come into our lexicon as universal truths.

They are not!

People recite these phrases as gospel trying to get other people to change their ways.

Try this, instead of blindly accepting universals and globalizations start questioning them.

Test them for accuracy across different contexts.

I’m not saying the statement isn’t true in many circumstances. It is.

Just not in every circumstance and especially in the circumstances they’re being used in.

This phrase, and it’s sister phrase you’ll read about next time, is now part of my “UnPower Communication Series.”

If you have any words or phrases you detest and believe are “UnPower Communication” I want to hear about them.

Email me at and I’ll write about them, if appropriate.

’til next time make it a great weekend & Communicate With Power!

Best Regards,


P.S.- To have 52 Power Words sent to you weekly for the next year, go to to subscribe today!

Do You Play the “This=That” Game in Your Small Business Workplace?

My apologies for taking two weeks to follow up on my last blog post where I introduced the concept of “this=that,” and promised a deeper explanation on the concept. Here’s where it came from:

Two weeks ago a client asked me for help with an employee she thought was acting passive-aggressively towards her.

In reviewing the email exchange upon which this small business owner’s claim was made, it was easy for me to determine she was jumping to conclusions and blaming her employee for acting in a passive-aggressive way.

She jumped to this conclusion because this employee has a history of passive-aggressive behavior.

In this instance, it was not the case.

I pointed out to my small business owner client my reasons why I didn’t see this as passive-aggressive behavior, but as a reasonable response to a situation outlined in an email from their boss.

Because of past behavior, this client was playing the game “this=that.”

“This=That” causes a lot of stress, mis-perceptions, mis-understandings, hurt feelings and numerous other issues, and possibly conflicts, in the workplace.

“This=That” is a short cut that the human brain uses to make connections more easy to explain what happens in our world.

This brain shortcut is usually effective. Often you can easily make a realistic cause/effect connection, such as, touching a hot stove burner will cause a burned hand, which is just like stepping barefoot on a loose hot charcoal in the backyard from a barbecue grill.

This is how we learn and works well when we’re growing up and when we’re learning a new skill.

It doesn’t work so well when we’re trying to understand human behavior.

When we apply ‘this=that” to human behavior, especially in the workplace, we are making assumptions, causing us to label and blame others.

Labeling and blaming others in the workplace can only cause problems and conflicts between co-workers, and between employees and their small business bosses.

Do you play “this=that” with your employees and team members?

Have you ever been the victim of someone playing “this=that,” making wrong assumptions as to why you’ve done something?

Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions or experiences regarding the concept of “this=that.”

’til next time, Communicate with Power,

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

Remove Your L.I.D. to Improve Your Results

There are two contexts of communication you need to be concerned with as you go through your day.

Yet, most of us are only concerned with one.

We think we’re only consciously aware of one.

But, I know we’re not.

We are consciously aware of both.

It seems, though, we just ignore one of them.

And, it’s more than just a shame.

It’s negatively impacting our lives, and the results we can achieve for ourselves, our family and our business.

The one context we focus on is our external communication.

You know, the stuff that comes out of your mouth intended (or sometimes not intended, oops!) for others.

The other context we don’t pay enough attention to is our internal communication.

You know, the little man or little woman inside of you that you talk to ALL THE TIME!

Most of what is called our self-talk is not supporting us in the best way, you know?

Most of our self-talk, or what I call our “internal dialogue” is just endless loop conversations that never move us forward.

It’s what I call your L.I.D. or your “Limiting Internal Dialogue.”

This concept and title recently came to me while coaching my clients in the Communication Power for Leaders virtual training, in which we spent more than 3-hours discussing how to lift their L.I.D.

Think now about your L.I.D.

How is your L.I.D. limiting your personal and professional results.

Your L.I.D. is keeping a lid on the results you could be achieving.

I’ll write more about this soon, for now, this is just a quick note to get you thinking about how your L.I.D. may be limiting your personal and professional results.

Leave your comments below as I’d love to hear about your biggest challenges regarding your L.I.D. and offer you some strategies for removing it.

’til next time, Communicate With Power!

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

Workplace Trust, What Is It & How to Get It

It’s been almost two months since I’ve written a piece here as I’ve been focused on developing deep content for, and now delivering my newly launched  Communication Power for Leaders group coaching program.

I under estimated how much time and energy it was going to take.

My apologies for leaving you over the least 7 weeks or so, and want you to know what I’m learning in the work I’ve been doing will be to your benefit.

One of those things is the work I’ve been doing to help the organizational leaders in the Communication Power for Leaders learn how by applying “The 3 Levels of High-Performance Leadership Communication” it can help build high-levels of trust between individuals and teams.

When the subject of “trust’ comes up, I get all sorts of questions about what it is and how to know if you have it and in what contexts.

Trust is a nebulous concept, isn’t it?

One thing I know is that the one thing that influences trust in the workplace more than any other is the level and quality of leadership and workplace communication.

When we think we have it someone’s behavior causes us to question it.

When we think we don’t have it, someone’s behavior surprises us.

For that reason I’ve tried to quantify it for my audiences and my clients.

Trust can be defined in many ways depending on the situation and context.

For workplace trust, I’ve defined it this way:
“The absolute belief that when communicating with someone, both sides have the other’s best interest in mind and the best interest of the team/organization they serve, and that the other individual will follow through to do what they say they are going to do.”

Clients and seminar attendees also often ask how they can assess the level of trust with those in their sphere of influence.

To answer those concerns I’ve identified three workplace behavior and performance contexts that must be taken into account when assessing one’s level of trust:

  • Relationship – do you have the same values, beliefs, commitment to a common vision and what specifically within those components of your relationship are “musts” and deal breakers, what are the “shoulds” you can live with if not in sync, where can you “agree to disagree” to work together at the highest level.
  • Competency – can the person effectively fulfill their role at the level necessary to be successful. There may be people you have a great relationship with but you may not trust them in their competency to do the job (for example, I have a high-trust relationship with my wife and trust her with my life but if I needed heart surgery she does not have the competency in that context that I would trust her to do the job).
  • Follow Through – will the person, based on past experience, do what they say they’re going to do and follow through on their commitments in the time they commit to do it. Do they stay in touch and communicate proactively along the way keeping you engaged and in the loop without you having to chase them for updates.

That’s one powerful way to assess trust in your workplace and if it’s not at the level it needs to be, you need look no further than the quality of communication by the leaders in your workplace and the tone they set for communication across their work environments.

Best Regards,

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

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