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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)


Motivating the Un-Motivated In the Workplace

I was asked a question last week by a business colleague at a networking event I had never been asked before.

I had just delivered my new 20-second summary of what I do, which opens with a rhetorical question and goes like this:

“You know how some small business owners struggle with employees with negative attitudes, poor work ethics and those who do not take initiative or ownership of the job they’re paid to do?

“Well what I do is work with the business owner and their employees to break through the communication problems causing the problems to create a more positive, more productive and most importantly, a more profitable work environment.”

This woman replied, “wow, I bet you’re a busy guy, every business could use you!”

Then she said, “do you think there are some people who are just not motivated?”

I said “No! The problem is not a lack of motivation.”

I explained, “Everyone is motivated to do something. Even if that motivation is just to lay on a couch and stare at a wall.”

“What most people lack is not motivation but the two vital components that create motivation.”

She asked, “so, what’s that?”

“Aspiration and inspiration!”

Aspiration comes from inspiration.

When someone is inspired by something or someone, they create an aspiration to move in a similar direction. This drives the motivation to take action towards achieving the aspiration.

If people seem unmotivated the fact is they either have no aspirations powerful enough to take action towards them, or have not found the inspiration to aspire to some meaningful outcomes.

Small business owners can simply follow this formula to create a motivated team of employees.

The process includes creating an inspiring vision and purpose that employees will be aspired to contribute their talents towards helping achieve.

If you’d like to learn more and download a leadership assessment on this concept, visit .

Let me know what you think.

’til next time, Communicate With Power!

Best Regards,

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

P.S.- To triple your ability to communicate to influence with and without authority get on board with Communication Power for Leaders Launch Insiders program with today!

No Time for Leaders to Rehash Old Failed Ideas, Employees Bring to Them As New? Think Again!

Had an interesting conversation with the president/ceo of a 65-employee company yesterday.

He told me that after attending my seminar on “The 7 Deadliest Communication Sins” he realized that after 20-years of leading his company he had become lazy in his communication with employees.

He admitted embarrassment that he, and other senior company leaders, were committing most of my seven communication sins.

I was impressed by his humility and commitment to improve communication at his company.

Specifically, he mentioned how he now knew he was stifling ideas from employees.

This is typical.

Many long-term business leaders shut down employees’ ideas because of their “experience” with similar ideas failing, or being inappropriate, in the past.

Typically, he would say, “thanks for the idea but we’ve tried things like that before and it won’t work,” or something to that effect.

Like most organizational leaders, he didn’t believe he had the time to rehash the reasons these ideas employees brought him wouldn’t work.

Yet, he realized that type of employee interaction was killing the motivation, morale and engagement he needed for his company to thrive.

Since the workshop last fall he said, “now, when someone brings me an idea that didn’t work in the past, I explain what happened and give them the history behind the situation so they understand our experience.”

“I then, tell them to take that information and use it to create a strategy to address those issues and come back to me with some options to see if it’s worth revisiting.

He said, “this new approach gives people perspective on the history, helps them understand my answer while communicating that I’m open to revisiting the idea if we can overcome things that prevented it from working last time.”

This is a true “open door” policy.

I know most of you are saying, “I don’t have time to do this.”

Maybe, maybe not.

I bet you are already investing too much time in fire fighting and dealing with the drama of the moment, though.

I promise investing a little more time on the front end like this will begin to reduce the need for fire fighting and dealing with the daily drama.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Or, better yet, request one of my complimentary 60-minute Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions so we can explore ways you can create a more empowered and engaged workforce.

If you’d like to learn more I encourage you to request one of my 5 FREE, private Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions for May.

You can learn more and request your strategy session at .

Best Regards,

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


The Source of All Your Workplace Problems

Proclaiming to know the source of all your problems is brash, I know.

I’m humble enough to realize I’m not that smart, but I also think you’ll agree I have pretty good insights after you read further.

In last week’s article for which I received an overwhelming response from readers (if you missed it you can read it here ) I wrote how low self-esteem was the reason behind a workplace drama queen’s behavior.

After writing that article and interacting with some readers I came to realize that most, if not all, of our problems are caused by low self-esteem.

For all the issues below their underlying cause is low self-esteem:

  • Drama queens & kings
  • Defensiveness
  • Don’t respond well to “constructive criticism”
  • Procrastination
  • Conflict avoidance
  • Bullying
  • Fear & Anxiety
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Consistent & Cross Contextual Self-doubt
  • Depression
  • Inability to accept compliments
  • Inability to offer compliments

Which of those do you, or have you, suffered from?

According to Dr. Marilyn J. Sorensen of and author of “Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem,” low self-esteem is defined as “an irrational and distorted view of self that affects the person’s assumptions, interpretations, perceptions, conclusions and beliefs about himself or herself as well as others.”

Among beliefs affected by low self-esteem is self-worth, which causes individuals with low self-esteem to feel they don’t deserve success or they are not as worthy of success as others.

The reason I claim it’s the cause of all your problems is this…

If you’ve ever struggled to solve problems or make decisions to move your life or business forward, the reason you don’t take the necessary action, or if you’ve procrastinated, is because you don’t feel you deserve it and you self-sabotage.

We bring these issues on ourselves and exacerbate them by not stepping up to deal with them due to our low self-esteem and low self-worth.

Conversely, if you’ve been impacted by any of the above behaviors of others, it is because of their low self-esteem (see last week’s article – ).

In my opinion, low self-esteem is an epidemic in western society.

It’s in need of a fix.

Next time I’ll offer some self-esteem building strategies we can all use.

Make it a great week!

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

An Employee Transformation at the Right Time in this Small Business

An employee gave his boss, an unexpected holiday gift last week.

It came from one of the employees at a company with whom I’ve been working.

When I began working with this client, the company owner believed this employee of 14 years was just going through the motions, had an entitlement mentality and only cared about the paycheck.

Last week, in front of this small business owner and all his teammates, this employee said, “I know that if I want a better role with this company I need to help build the platform to make that happen.”

I was blown away.

More importantly, my client, the company owner, was ecstatic and beaming ear to ear.

It’s going to be great for this company starting a new year, with a newly re-energized veteran employee ready to “build a platform for the company to grow on.”

There are employees on your team looking for a reason to contribute at higher levels and don’t know how.

The strategies this client used will work for you, your employees and your company, too.

If you’d like to learn how, let’s schedule a private, 1:1 Revolutionary

Leadership Strategy Session and we’ll explore how to apply it to your company

As a New Year’s gift I’m offering all the small business owners reading this an opportunity for one of 5 Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions this month.

To request yours, go to

At the end of your strategy session you will launch into this year knowing what you need to do to create greater initiative and ownership in the workplace.

Make it a great New Year!

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

Conscious Communicator Tip #37:’Tis the Season, But This One Rarely Comes With Gifts

So, what season am I talking about?

It’s the Annual Performance Review Season, right?

Yes, ’tis the season everyone in the working world dreads, isn’t it?

More procrastination is engaged in during this time of the working year around the annual performance review than any other.

No one likes to get ’em.

No one likes to give ’em.

No one likes to even have to think about ’em.

Yet, they are the #1 necessary evil in business.

My first client in 2006 had owned his company for about 12 years and until we started working together had never took his dozen or so employees through a performance review process.

My wife, who works in our county government and just stepped into an official management role about 12 months ago had not been involved in a performance review process in more than a decade.

Ten, twelve years, that’s serious procrastination, isn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be that way, and there is a very easy way to change this phenomenon.

We have to change what we believe about the purpose of the performance review/appraisal process.

Whenever I ask my clients what the purpose of their performance review/appraisal process is, the answers I get are:

  • To let people know how they’re doing
  • To give people feedback
  • To determine their salary for the next year and their bonus for this year
  • To let them know if they’re meeting expectations

Those are all potentially mini-purposes of a performance review/appraisal process.

The ultimate purpose, few business managers or leaders associate to is, “to improve individual and organizational (team) performance.”

That’s it!

It’s that simple.

Is your company’s performance review process “improving individual and organizational or team performance?”

And, is it doing it in a specific, measurable way?

If not, and you’d like it to, the place to start is with the ‘job descriptions.’

Most job descriptions, as they are presently designed make it more difficult to manage employees’ performance, not easier.

It’s the place I start with my clients to help them improve individual and organizational performance.

If you’d like help in this area I encourage you to download my FREE REPORT:
The 5 Master Keys to Effective Performance Conversations at

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

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