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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)


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

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 Risk That Almost Cost Me My Career

The biggest risk I ever took almost ended my career before it started.

My risk was that I rejected the only college internship offer that came my way.

I took this risk even though without an internship I couldn’t earn my degree, and getting my foot in the door would be very difficult.

Making matters worse, I pissed off the director of our college’s Masters Program because I turned down a Major League Baseball team.

He said to me, “Mr. Weisman, we don’t turn down offers from Major League Baseball teams.”

He could have sabotaged other opportunities. But, he didn’t have to.

It was late in the year, just weeks before professional baseball internships began, so there were no other offers before we left school for winter break.

I took this risk because I knew what I was looking for and this Major League offer wasn’t it.

Two weeks into winter break a phone call came from my ideal internship opportunity. I grabbed it, starting my 20-year baseball career.

“You don’t need self-confidence to take risks, you need to take risks to gain self-confidence.”

That’s a quote from coaching colleague Rhonda Sparks I heard her say at a training we jointly attended last year.

I thought it was brilliant!

There’s a simple 4-step model I recommend when it comes to building higher levels of self-confidence that leads to higher self-esteem –

  1. Take Risk
  2. Learn from the Experience (with failure or success)
  3. Apply Learning’s
  4. Repeat

This is a path to high levels of self-esteem.

You read last week about my own challenges with self-esteem.

Depending on the situation those old demons still pop up from time to time.

When those old demons pop up, I always refer back to this model.

It works, I promise! Give it a try.

If you want help, request one of my 5 free Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions coming up in March.

You can do so at this link:

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




P.S. – We’re still 10-days away and those 5 FREE Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions fill up fast so grab yours today at:


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

Silos Belong On Farms…

A CEO over lunch last year said she needed to break down silos in her organization.

“How many employees and departments do you have?” I asked.

“Six employees and four departments.”

I thought to myself, “Silos in an organization with just six people, how is that possible?”

As our conversation continued, a voice in my head shouted, “this is a serious leadership problem.”

So I asked, “This sounds like a priority for you, so I guess you’ve made teamwork and collaboration a part of every employees’ performance review, so it’s the expectation, right?”

In response I got the ‘deer in headlights’ look.

I added, “If you want teamwork and collaboration to be the norm, you have to set that as the expectation, set accountability to it, and set up rewards for it.

I told her, “Unfortunately, it won’t just happen.

She hadn’t been doing that, and admitted it.

So many small business leaders just expect it to occur through osmosis, or wishing and hoping.

Since our meeting about 18 months ago I see her from time to time at regional events and my sense is that not much has changed.

This is not unusual.

Many small business owners and leaders of small not-for-profit organizations have the best of intentions.

But, they are wearing so many hats that things like this that take extra energy and focus, take a back seat.

Then, they get forgotten.

So, they come to me to keep them focused.


  • Key initiatives in your company continue to fall through the cracks…
  • Silos are developing ever thicker walls with the silo leaders developing more entrenched attitudes…or if,
  • Employees just do the minimum to stay above the firing line…

You would definitely benefit from one of my Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions –

To learn more, and 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. – 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

Conscious Communicator Power Word #13 – DEFINITIVE (100 words or less)

Your next Power Word projects completeness and thoroughness…DEFINITIVE!

DEFINITIVE is defined as “most reliable or complete, having its fixed and final form, providing a solution or final answer.”

Imagine, proclaiming to those whom you need to influence that your work was the “definitive solution to a problem,” or that “I’ve just hired the definitive employee to round out our staff?”

If someone asked you to develop a resource to address a need in your organization and you said, “this is the definitive piece we’ve been waiting for to move forward,” imagine how much extra clout it would give your presentation?

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

Conscious Communicator Tip #7 – Avoid These 7 Communication Mistakes at All Costs (300 words or less)

Conscious communicators are extremely aware of both the specific words that come out of their mouth as well as how those words come out of their mouth.

This comes in many forms, such as, the syntax or order of the words, the tone and inflection of each of the words, the quantity of the words that are used, as well as the proper use of the words applied in situations.

In my decade long study of leadership and workplace communication, I’ve found that there are 7 especially damaging mistakes across those many contexts above that tend to cause significant problems between people both in the workplace and out. I call them “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Communication” and they can be applied to virtually any human interaction.

These 7 most damaging communication mistakes are:

  • †  A lack of specificity
  • †  A lack of desirable behaviors
  • †  A lack of immediacy
  • †  A lack of respectful rebuttals
  • †  A lack of focused attention
  • †  A lack of appropriate tone and body language
  • †  A lack of directness and candor

I’ll be covering each of these seven communication sins in more detail individually over the next seven weeks, dedicating one blog post to each. You can get a head start on these by downloading the free white paper report on which this series is based 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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