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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!

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

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

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

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

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

In this instance, it was not the case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

’til next time, Communicate with Power,

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

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


Workplace Communication Riddle of the Week:When Is A Chair Not Just a Chair?

Here’s a riddle for you this week…

When is a chair not just a chair?

The answer:
When it gets in the way of employee motivation and morale.

Recently, I learned that Randi, one of my clients’ employees, struggling with a bad back, had been asking for a new office chair for six years!

(Want to cut to the chase? Click this link to a brief interview I did with Randi about her chair –

Imagine, six years?

She had been ignored in her requests.

Then, she was teased that she might be able to get one.

Then, she was told she had to survey the rest of her department to inquire who else would want a chair and what type of chair they would want.

After asking numerous times and being told it would only happen if she invested her time in this staff survey, she gave up.

Just 90-days after working with my client, the senior leader of her company’s division, she (and others on her team) got a new chair.chairphoto

Listen to Randi tell her story in this brief audio interview we did last week after the chair arrived.

There are millions of stories like this in business with leaders not listening to their employees needs.

More on this next time, stay tuned and listen to my interview with Randi, her story deserves to be heard by employees and business leaders alike:

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:


Drama Queens and Kings in the Workplace, What To Do About ‘Em

Due to a restructuring at my wife’s place of work, a woman was transferred to her team.

This woman came with a reputation of a negative attitude and a “drama queen” label.

You know the type, people always in an emotional state putting everyone on edge?

Well, to get off on the right foot, my wife asked her team to keep an open mind and give this woman a fresh start.

My wife also let this woman know that the department from which she was coming had a reputation for negativity and that she was coming into a different, more positive work environment.

This woman’s response was “I am who I am, I can’t change how I react.”

Initially, she didn’t.

When she was stressed, frustrated or upset everyone knew it.

Her verbal exasperations, sighs, and highly intense language reverberated throughout their small work area.

But, in communicating to understand this woman’s personality, my wife learned something that has helped reduce the drama queen tendencies.

She learned most of the drama this woman created was around her own inadequacies, lack of confidence and self-esteem.

Self-esteem and self-confidence issues caused all the drama. It had little to do with other people or her environment.

Her issues were related to inabilities to do something she needed to do (usually around technology) or to understand something she needed to understand (regarding her new role).

But, her reactions reverberated throughout the work environment, impacting everyone’s emotions.

With my wife’s coaching, she’s starting to understand how to manage her frustrations and reactions, and is being kinder to herself.

She’s a work in progress.

There is no one cause of drama in the workplace, many factors are involved.

I recently released a new report providing a 6-step solution to eliminate drama in the workplace, addressing many of those factors.

It’s called, How to Transform Your Workplace from Drama & Defensiveness to Initiative and Ownership – you can grab your copy here.

However, the report doesn’t address the drama caused in situations like my wife’s new employee.

Her problem is low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem is at the root of drama queen’s and kings.

Something I’ll address in my next article. Look for it in a few days.

Make it a great weekend!

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





P.S. – This report How to Transform Your Workplace from Drama & Defensiveness to Initiative and Ownership is absolutely free, and available at this link.

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

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

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