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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)


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

Teenage Employee Surprises Customer At Fast Food Drive Thru

At a Dunkin’ Donuts’ drive through last week a teenager working the window amazed me.

Teenagers today supposedly do not have the work ethic, attitude or focus to contribute to a business.

Well, this one did.

My standard breakfast order is a toasted bagel. And I always order a double chocolate donut as a treat.

After giving my order the young lady informed me through the scratchy speaker that they were out of double chocolate donuts.

Dunkin' Donuts double chocolate donut sitting on my car's dashboard to dry the frosting!

Dunkin’ Donuts double chocolate donut sitting on my car’s dashboard to dry the frosting!

At her recommendation I decided on a chocolate glazed (which is a double chocolate without the chocolate frosting on top).

I pulled up to the service window and paid.

BUT, instead of handing me a paper bag with my order, the young lady handed me a double chocolate donut on a napkin.

“I thought you didn’t have any,” I said.

“We don’t! I just made this for you. The frosting is still wet, so I couldn’t put it in a bag,” she replied.

In the moment she and her teammates decided to improvise, found some frosting and made me a double chocolate donut.

She made my day.

In my experience most young workers at Dunkin’ Donuts are typically like most workplace teenagers, disengaged, biding time ‘til a break or the end of their shift.

Not this teenager. Not at this Dunkin’ Donuts.

It was my first visit to this particular Dunkin’ Donuts.

But, I will be going back to see if this was an aberration or an expectation.

Because it was so out of character for the service at most fast food restaurants, I’m going to guess it’s part of the local franchise’s culture.

Something this franchise owner is doing creates a culture where teenage employees think for themselves to do the right thing for customers.

As I wrote last week, the younger generation in the workplace doesn’t have to be a problem.

Neither does the more mature generation.

Yet, the ineffective and contradictory motivation strategies applied in most small business work environments create the potential for both to be problems.

The result is the poor attitudes, low engagement and low productivity the business owners complain about.

If your workplace motivation strategies are just creating more drama and confusion, then…

You could definitely benefit from one of my Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions.

To learn more, and to request one of the 5 free sessions I will be offering for February…

Go to

Talk to you soon!

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




P.S. – Remember that because of my schedule I can only offer 5 free strategy sessions each month and they’re first come, first served, so request yours now at

What About Team Captains in the Workplace? Can They Work Like in Sports?

After a recent loss the captain of my favorite professional sports team (the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League) called a private, closed-door, player-only meeting to address the collective under performance of the team without the coaches involved.

In speaking with a prospective client today about raising the bar on the performance of her senior leadership team, I got the idea that it might be a good idea where workplace teams are clearly identified, that they too, choose a team captain.

For the past 7 years in working with my clients’ senior leadership teams we regularly develop Team Agreements that outline specifics of how the team promises to treat each other, and interact to create a high-performing team.

One of the challenges I’ve found with the Team Agreement process after I leave is sometimes the on-going accountability to it dissipates as time moves along.

I’m wondering, if as part of the Team Agreement, the team should also select a team captain that can act as the team leader and be authorized by team members to act in ways that will keep the team on track and performing as promised.

This will do at least two things:

  1. It will make it easier for the team to remain self-accountable without senior leaders needing to address performance.
  2. The team will have a liaison between it and senior leadership to address issues up the ladder

This is just an idea I had, what do you think? Leave a comment below.

Creating a Team Agreement is just one part of a process to create a high-performing work environment that will end workplace drama and begin moving employees to take initiative and eventually ownership of their roles at your company (the roles for which you hired them and are paying them for).

Below are two resources to help you create a high-performing workplace at your small business in 2014:

  1. Download my FREE Report “How to Transform Your Workplace from Drama & Defensiveness to Initiative & Ownership” at
  2. Request a complimentary Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Session at www.

’til next time, make it a great weekend!

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

How to Eliminate “It’s Not My Job Attitudes” At Your Workplace

The more client work I do the more creative I have to get.

I find my clients continue to offer unique opportunities to stretch my comfort zone as I try to stretch theirs. It’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship.

Last week I was confronted with a situation where a client was challenged with a number of employees, who questioned whether requests made of them by co-workers and/or superiors fell within their job descriptions.

Instead of pulling out the job descriptions and analyzing if the claims were appropriate (which is a losing proposition and does nothing to improve employee motivation and morale even if job descriptions include the catchall phrase of “all other duties as assigned”), I decided to take an alternative approach.

I realized that if an attitude like this exists in an organization, whether it be one person or multiple, it is an organizational culture issue, not an individual employee issue.  It must be addressed in that vein.

At my suggestion the client agreed to make this part of our regular cultural development program so I facilitated a discussion around the difference between an employees’ “job” and an employees’ “role.

A very interesting discussion ensued.

First I asked each employee to define each, their “job,” and their “role,” separately.

We then had everyone share their answers.  Each person’s take on it was both interesting and unique.

Yet, no one gave an answer that was going to transform the work environment.

Here’s the simple answer and why it is important:

In every organization everyone’s “job” is the same. Whether you are the CEO responsible for the entire organization’s performance or the receptionist at the front desk answering the phone, the “job” is the same.

That “job” is the company’s ultimate outcome or purpose.

To explain what I mean I use the metaphor of a professional sports team.

In sports, the ultimate outcome or purpose is to win the championship. Everyone’s “job” is to contribute to the team’s championship effort.

Yet, everyone on the team has a different “role” to fill in making that happen. Herein is the nuance in eliminating an “it’s not my job” attitude.

If everyone on the team’s “job” is to contribute to winning the championship, then anything they are asked to do is their job, regardless of how their unique “role” is defined.

That is why you get athletes playing out of position, when asked by their coach.

The coach is only going to ask that athlete to play out of position if they feel they can contribute to winning. If it were not going to benefit the team and contribute to the “job” of winning the championship, they wouldn’t be asked to do it.

The same holds true in business.

When everyone in the company understands its ultimate outcome or purpose, everyone’s “job” is to contribute to it by applying their unique talent and skill in their “role.”

And, when the time comes they may be asked to contribute to that ultimate outcome or purpose in ways that others believe may be helpful based on their skills and talents even though it technically may be outside their role as described, but it is their “job” to do it.

Thus, eliminating the “it’s not my job” attitude.

And, for those “devil’s advocates,” the “job” always supersedes the “role.”

If you’d like help in making this transition, which also raises the bar in commitment and motivation all around, click here for a complimentary strategy session.

’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 Get Employees to Accept Constructive Criticism & Feedback

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 question I get frequently and has a very simple answer.

If you want to have people on your staff be more open to constructive criticism and feedback the simplest solution is to be open to constructive criticism and feedback yourself as an organizational leader.

Few businesses have in place a regular process for giving quality feedback to its organizational leadership regarding their behaviors, actions and strategies and how they impact personnel throughout the company, yet this is the number one way to have everyone in the organization open to constructive feedback in the workplace.

In 1998 & 1999 I attended a leadership development program and both years heard General Norman Schwarzkopf say, “No organization will ever improve until its leaders are open to looking at what is wrong with it.”

A good lesson for all business leaders in today’s economic climate.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who served The Big Apple from 1978-1989, used to go around the city asking regular citizens 220px-Ed_Koch_95th_congressa very simple question, “how am I doing?”

As Ghandi said, “we have to be the change we want to see in the world.” The same goes for business leaders in their own companies. If you want your people more open to constructive criticism and feedback for improving workplace performance, be the first to go there and have the humility to show you as the business leader are open to it.

Additionally, executive leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith, in his book What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, offers a model for this type of leadership insights he calls FeedForward. It’s a model I will share with you next week as a follow up to this post, so stay tuned.

Try it and let me know how it goes and what results you get from this championship leadership strategy.

’til next time, make it a great week, and if you’re in the U.S. have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!


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

The Value of Corporate Values & Do They Matter Anymore?

Tomorrow I’m speaking at two classes at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business MBA program, and one of them ins on Corporate Governance. I was originally struggling with what value I could offer students in a course of that title, until the law professor that hired me to speak to her students told me that a key component of this class is “corporate integrity” especially as it relates to the integrity of the senior executives.

Interesting that I’m going to speak just a few days after one of the most revered U.S. military generals of recent generations just resigned due to a falling of personal and professional integrity. So, here I go and the topic is on The Value of Corporate Values and Values Based Problem-Solving & Decision Making. 

Of course, the value of corporate values is only as good as the integrity of the human beings in the corporation running the show, from the board of directors on down through the senior executives and supporting staff.

Sometimes I think there is no value in corporate values. Yet, they are always part of the strategic planning process. Often, when I’m facilitating I worry that its an exercise in futility.

It’s this fear that drives me to drill the participants in my client’s strategic planning sessions to dig deep as to what they mean, how they can make a difference when engaged and how we can put systems in place so they do integrate into the organization’s culture.

When done right, this is how it works:

  • Values drive Beliefs
  • Beliefs drives Behaviors
  • Behaviors drive Performance
  • Performance drives Results 

Therefore, if your job is to drive results, the level to which your results are delivered has a direct correlation to the clarity of your values and the behaviors that define them.

If you’d like help in creating a value’s driven organization that really works, let me know with an e-mail, I’d be happy to discuss how we can easily make that happen.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

5 Steps to Leading Your Company to an IDEAL Workplace

Have you ever awoken to an idea in the middle of the night you just can’t get out of your head so you have to get up to write it down for fear of not remembering when you fall back to sleep?

Well, that happened to me this morning!

This year has been a breakthrough year for me in terms of client projects and results. As you’ve read in this very space I’ve been creating some dynamic methodologies that are rapidly impacting my clients’ work environments. It seems those results are poised to explode in 2013.

I think this clearly defined process will help those business and company leaders, as well as project managers, to create the work environments and teams capable of outstanding results in the New Year.

With that thought in mind, here are my 5 Steps to Leading Your Company to an I.D.E.A.L. Workplace:

  • Identify
  • Define
  • Engage
  • Act
  • Listen

Step 1: Identify the results you want to achieve and identify the possible issues, problems and causes that may be getting in the way.

Step 2: Define the specific issues, problems and causes getting in the way of those results. This tests the assumptions made in step 1 and either confirms or refines them so you are working in the right area to get a quick return on investment. Too many organizations work to fix the right problems by working on the wrong cause, or they never build consensus around the problems to fix and the right cause, which breaks down the efforts due to a lack of buy-in and commitment. This then leads to skepticism, cynicism and a lack of trust in the work environment as those involved develop a belief that no one cares to improve the work environment while blaming unfairly and unnecessarily spreads like wild fire.

Step 3: Engage all stakeholders in discussions to identify and commit to working on those solutions and provide a new paradigm for communication with the skills to successfully carry it out. These stakeholders will also be engaged in step 2 of this process making this step an easy transition with high levels of buy-in and commitment.

Step 4: Act on those solutions to integrate them into the work environment as quickly as possible. With buy-in and commitment high from all stakeholders it will be easy to create specific accountabilities to actionable items with reasonable deadlines for follow through and reporting.

Step 5: Listen to what’s going on in a different way than ever before to review and refine to maintain momentum. Because all stakeholders have been engaged in creating a work environment they have defined as desirable, as well as the solutions to make it happen, all will be open to listening to that new environment and their team members working together on this new process in a much different way than ever before. The walls of skepticism, cynicism and trust will have been broken down like it’s Berlin in 1989 and communication will flow in a much different way allowing for positive reviews of progress and challenges. A new level of openness to constructive feedback on how to make things even better will begin to emerge allowing for a continual upward spiral of development.

How does this sound? How would this feel in your workplace?

Want to join me on this journey in 2013? If so, first take this Workplace Culture Assessment and see what your biggest challenges are, then we can have a strategy session to discuss how best to apply the IDEAL model to your specific situation.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

The 4 Truths About Workplace Communication for High-Levels of Teamwork & Productivity

The last few weeks have been very active for me in terms of business development. It seems as though people are starting to pay more attention to the communication challenges in their workplace. Maybe they’ve just started to wake up to the reality and the frustrations. Who knows why, but I’m always happy to add value where I can.

Many of the discussions have been focused on similar issues and they got me thinking.

So, you, again are the beneficiary. If you lead a company, a department, a division or just a project team, here are 4 truths of communication for you to think about as you move forward:

  1. The most vital workplace communication issues are about people, not technology
    Don’t let people blame technology or hide behind it as an excuse for communication breakdowns because we have to communicate the old fashion way more often if we want to build a team grounded in high-levels of trust.
  2. Workplace communication issues must be addressed promptly, directly, and respectfully or they will get worse
    I can speak to this strategy from many personal experiences early in my leadership career in professional baseball, and I’m also sure you don’t have to take my word for it. You probably do not need to look too hard into your own situational experiences to know this to be true.
  3. Leadership communication drives workplace communication 
    Too many leaders continue to be a “do as I say, not as I do” leader. Too many lead the charge in organizations violating the corporate values they helped to create and expect everyone else to adhere to.
  4. Workplace communication can always get better 
    When we stop believing we can improve, we stop being a leader others are going to want to follow. Champions on the athletic field know there is always another level they need to work towards on the way to winning that championship. What about you?

Hope these 4 truths of workplace communication help make you an even better leader. If you’d like to learn more about these 4 truths, download this free, 15-minute audio report at this link or just hit the play button below:

’til next time, make it a great week!

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



A Simple Strategy for Strategic Planning & Goal Setting

As we move deeper into the 4th quarter and the holidays around the corner, many clients are beginning to plan for 2013.

As I’m always looking to make things better and easier for my clients, I decided to embark on an initiative to create a new strategy for planning and goal setting.

The output of my recent brainstorming session is called the

R1: Results:Define the results you would like to achieve that you believe are possible.

R2: Reasons:This is the “why” and where the motivation to do what it takes comes from. This all important component is missing from the old SMART goal formula.

R3: Responsibility: This is where you identify who will be responsible for achieving these results, and where the individual and collective accountabilities will be placed.

R4: Rewards: Too few business leaders, except for sales managers, take into account the rewards that may be in store for those that participate in helping to achieve the results identified here. If you’re doing this for yourself, identify the rewards you’d like to reap from achieving these results. If you lead, or are part of a team, identify the rewards the team will be able to collectively enjoy when achieving the desired results.

Give this new goal setting and strategic planning process a shot and let me know what you think. Looking forward to your feedback on this, feel free to leave a comment. If you’d like help working through this to identify some stretch goals for you and your team, you can schedule a private, 1:1 strategy session at .

’til next time, make it a great week!

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



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