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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)


A Workplace “Change” Lesson from a Rafting Guide

My wife and I and 24 others were standing on the river bed of the Gallatin River preparing our rafts for a white water excursion while on vacation.

After placing the rafts on the edge of the water, the head rafting guide call us together for a safety talk.

The instructions were pretty generic, and some basic common sense but did include specific scenarios we needed to aware of.

About mid-way through the 10-minute talk, a young boy of about 12 years old raised his hand.MWW_6471

The guide acknowledged him for a question.

I couldn’t hear it completely, but it began with “what if…”

Without skipping a beat replied the guide replied:

“Young man, in life there are a lot of ‘what if’s,” you’re just going to have to adapt and overcome!”

With that the guide gave us a few more instructions after which the young man’s hand was again in the air.

His older sister standing in front of me begged the guide not to call on her little brother again, to no avail.

Another “what if” question ensued.

The guide responded with just 3 words, “adapt and overcome!”

I thought that was such great advice, especially for a very impressionable young man like that.

So many of my small business clients seem to struggle with employees who struggle with “change” in their workplace.

In the 21st century change is coming at us faster than ever, especially regarding technology.

Employees of different ages and generations are all struggling with various levels of change.

Small business leaders must be steadfast in their expectations regarding employees dealing with workplace change.

The expectation should be that employees be proactive in identifying ways to “adapt and overcome.”

If a 12-year old boy rafting down white water rapids can do it, adult employees in a work environment certainly can.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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





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

7 “Change Leadership Styles” You Need to KnowBy Guest Blogger, Barbara Trautlein, Ph.D.

In my previous blog article on July 24th (click here to read it) I introduced you to seven different “change leadership styles” that my extensive research has uncovered.

Each of the following seven styles of leadership indicate a different mix of Head, Heart, and Hands:

  • If you’re a Coach, you’re all about Heart. You love engaging your colleagues whenever you get a chance, and you find great reward in supporting the people around you as you all move through a change process.
  • If you’re a Visionary, you are the one who’s always looking forward to an inspiring future. Thanks to your Head focus, you have a gift for seeing opportunity and planning for new situations, and you tend to get excited about what lies on the other side of a change.
  • If you’re an Executer, you focus primarily on the Hands. You like to get things done, and people know they can rely on you to not just talk but take action. Often your execution is backed up by comprehensive, step-by-step plans.
  • If you’re a Champion, you use a combined strength in Head and Heart to get people pumped about change. Like a Visionary, you see abundant possibilities for the future and, adding the people skills of a Coach to the mix, you’re able to energize and excite your colleagues as you all work to bring about change.
  • If you’re a Driver, you’re strong on both Head and Hands. You see an enticing vision before you, and you use your executional abilities to drive toward that vision, laying out clear strategies and tactics along the way.
  • If you’re a Facilitator, you focus on the specific people and specific activities you need to support on a day-to-day basis to lead the change, thanks to your strong Heart and Hands capabilities. You know the tasks that need to be accomplished to make measurable progress, and you succeed in motivating others to work together on those tasks.
  • If you’re an Adapter, you’re about even on Head, Heart, and Hands. You can employ all three approaches as necessary, and you’re generally flexible, politically savvy, and willing to collaborate with others. This may seem like the ideal style—and it does indeed have great benefits—but in the book, Change Intelligence, Barbara identifies important challenges Adapters face that you need to be aware of.

If you’re uncertain about which style is yours, I have a free self-assessment tool that comes in my new book Change Intelligence.

The assessment will help you narrow down these seven leadership styles to find the ones that fit you best.

Studying the different change leader styles will provide you with targeted developmental strategies, which are immediately accessible, personally applicable, and professionally actionable, to hone your CQ to catalyze powerful change in your career, team, and organization.

Also, to learn even more about these change leadership styles and to ask me questions directly, be sure to join Skip and me on Thursday, August 8th when he interviews me about CQ, I’ll be taking questions live at the end of the interview and you can even submit your questions in advance for us.

To do so, go to: ! Looking forward to speaking with you then!

Next week Skip is back from his European vacation and is finished chasing Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

At least, for at least a few more months, anyway!

Thanks for reading this week! Hope to talk to you live on the tele-class on August 8th!

All my best,

Barbara Trautlein

’til next time,

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







P.S. – For a list of all Power Words in the Conscious Communicator Series click here

3 Keys for Correctly Communicating “Change”By Guest Blogger, Barbara Trautlein, Ph.D.

Head, Heart, or Hands—which do you tend to lead with?

Each change leader has a basic tendency to lead with one of these, or some combination of the three. You probably have some sense of which is dominant in you. Is it:

  • the Head—focusing on the big picture goal, the business objectives;
  • the Heart—personally connecting with your people at an emotional level; or
  • the Hands—providing teams tactical tools and skills like a savvy project manager.

And you’ve probably thought about what’s missing from your change leadership style, too. One way to find out is to observe your people.

  • Are they working really hard but misplacing their efforts? You may need to be more Head-oriented and paint a picture of the target and explain the what andwhy of the change.
  • Are they unmotivated, indifferent, or even afraid? You may need to add more Heart and share your own story, build trust, and show them that working together as a team benefits them and the rest of their peers.
  • Or are your people paralyzed, like deer in the headlights, and can’t seem to get unstuck and into effective action? If so, they may need a heavy dose of Hands, and you may need to set a plan, process, and skill-build to guide their efforts through the change.

Of course, none of us leads only, all the time, in every instance with the Head or Heart or Hands. We are each a blend of all three. It is this unique combination that represents our change leader style.

In fact, there are 7 different change leadership styles:

  • The Coach
  • The Visionary
  • The Executor
  • The Champion
  • The Driver
  • The Facilitator
  • The Adaptor

In the next guest blog article on Friday, July 26th, I’ll be providing a little more detail and insights into each of these 7 change leadership styles.

Then, be sure to join me and Skip on Thursday, August 8th when he interviews me and I take your questions.

To register for that free tele-seminar go to

’til next time,
skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results







P.S. – For a list of all Power Words in the Conscious Communicator Series click here

Correctly Communicating “Change”Vital for 21st Century Leaders

So many of the comments I receive in my teleclass trainings and e-mail questions from subscribers lately have been centering around dealing with “change.”

  • Change coming from  higher levels in the organization.
  • Change resistance from team members on project teams.
  • Leaders who know their organization needs to change but they’re afraid of beginning a change initiative of the challenging economy the past few years and they know their people are already frustrated.

So, while I’m on vacation I decided to reach out to a change expert to help you.

Because change is coming at us faster than ever as we move deeper into the 21st Century, having leaders that can help employees not only be more open to change, but to embrace change, is vital for organizations of all sizes in the 21st Century.

That’s why in early August I am going to hosting a special teleclass where I will be interviewing my friend, colleague and newly published author, Barbara Trautlein, to help you become a change agent in your organization by understanding your CQ.

What is CQ?

It’s your Change Quotient!

Just like you have an IQ, Intelligence Quotient, and Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Quotient, Ms. Trautlein has created a revolutionary way to measure one’s ability to lead change.

While I’m on vacation, Barbara has graciously agreed to provide guest blog articles to help explain CQ, so look for them coming up on Wednesday, July 24 and Friday, July 26th. Then on Thursday, August 8th, be sure to bring your CQ questions for Barbara when I will be interviewing her on my first Communication Power for Leaders Expert Interview Series.

If you’d like to get a hard start now, you can register for the event to get all the call-in information here:

Look for Barbara’s guest blog article coming up this Wednesday and Thursday!

’til next time,
skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results







P.S. – For a list of all Power Words in the Conscious Communicator Series click here

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

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



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


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