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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)


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

Conscious Communicator Power Word #8 – OPEN (100 words or less)

Today’s Power Word is one of possibility…OPEN!

Many people share with me frustration with people who are closed-minded. Many wish those people had more OPEN minds. Do you have an OPEN mind? Imagine how much more powerful it is to communicate with people who are OPEN minded?

To be OPEN minded we have to master our internal dialogue.

Additionally, using OPEN when making a request of someone, is a powerful influencing communication strategy. Most people want to be thought of as being OPEN. Asking someone, “would you be OPEN to XXXXXX?” gives you a likelihood your request will be fulfilled.

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

Conscious Communicator Power Word #7 – GREAT (100 words or less)

Your next Power Word is positive and affirmative…GREAT!

Next time you hear a good idea suggest it’s a GREAT idea? Imagine how that slight adjustment will make the person feel? There is a fine line between a good and GREAT idea. Often just proclaiming it, can help make it so.

Unconscious communicators typically respond “good” when asked how they are doing.

Conscious communicators choose “GREAT.” By proclaiming it, your mind finds reasons supporting your claim, allowing the “GREAT” feeling to manifest.

Sometimes we have to fake it to make it. Using “GREAT” forces your face to smile. A GREAT start.

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

Conscious Communicator Power Word #6 – MUST (100 words or less)








Your sixth Power Word is one of determination…MUST!

MUST is definitive and absolute. It connotes power and certainty!

MUST provides laser like focus. Yet, because of its power, leaders are often reluctant to use MUST. We do have to be careful in using it because too many MUSTs devalues the word and the things we are proclaiming to have that level of importance (much like “if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”)

So, pick your spots, look for the most important of your important things and label them as MUSTs. It’s guaranteed to improve your results, because the MUSTs get done!

Give it a try and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below or e-mail me directly at!

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

Conscious Communicator Tip #3 – The True (& Only) Purpose of Your Communication (300 words or less)

In communication workshops I often start by asking participants to tell me what they think the purpose of communication is.

The reason I ask this question for them to tell me the purpose of communication is because I need to motivate people to want to be more conscious in their communication. And, since the genesis of all motivation is “purpose” I know when my workshop participants are clear on their purpose for communicating, their motivation to apply what I’m teaching them is likely to follow.

Most times I receive answers like, “to convey information,” “to make sure my opinion is heard,” or “to get things done.” All are correct, yet incomplete. Back in the fall I wrote a blog article about the difference between “means” goals and “ends” goals, and the reasons above are just “means” goals.

Having studied workplace communication full time for 11-years and having received my college degree in communication, I feel somewhat qualified to share with you my belief as to the true purpose of communication, which is an “ends” goal:

“To influence and control the circumstances, experiences and results in your personal and professional life!”

Think about it. Isn’t that what you want your communication to do for you?

For me, the purpose of this communication each week is to influence and control the results I get in helping you become a more conscious communicator, which in turn when you achieve better results from the tips and strategies you receive from our relationship, it will help me influence the growth of my business through additional client work and referrals.

It’s the same for all of us. So, what do you think of this “purpose?” Does it resonate with you? Do you have a better one, let me know, leave a comment or reply via e-mail.

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

The Conscious Communicator Series

Today is the first of this year’s 2013 Conscious Commuincator series, which is committed to helping you become a more conscious communicator. Thus the title of this series.

Each week there will be one tip of the week in under 300 words and two weekly “Power Words” each 100 words or less to help you become a more conscious communicator in 2013.

I am starting the series with what I believe to be the 4 “P’s” of Conscious CommunicationPurpose, Patience, Practice and Poise.

Know why communicating consciously is important, in general, and important to you, specifically. (In one of the next tips in this series I will be sharing what I believe to be the true purpose of communication)

Consciously communicating takes poise and patience. This is the difference between reacting and responding. Reacting happens instantly, responding takes place after a brief assessment. Most adults react too much and respond too little. A great strategy is something we learned in our youth, which is to count to ten, or at least count to five, before responding. Other strategies include
to taking a breath, asking a clarifying question, etc. to buy some time and learn more about what the other person is requesting. All of this takes patience.

Because this is not natural for most humans we need to practice to build a new habit. Communicating consciously is not something that comes naturally to us. No one teaches us to communicate consciously, they just teach us to communicate. As immature youngsters we often react immediately in the moment and get in trouble for it. Because few instances are corrected it builds into an adulthood habit. Practicing patience as described above will allow us to build a new habit of communicating consciously.

When you put all three of the above “Ps” together, you will develop poise. Poise is a powerful approach and is a key characteristic of great leaders. It is charismatic and attractive and will allow you to become a much more influential communicator.

Best wishes on your journey to becoming a more conscious communicator, I’m pleased you will be with me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

’til next time, make it a great week!

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



When Setting Goals in Strategic Planning Remember This Important Distinction

I’m pleased that I received so many comments last week in response to my new 4R Strategy for Results for businesses to apply in their strategic planning for 2013. The comments I received came both directly on the blog article itself and to me individually via e-mail.

Between those comments and a couple of client discussions I’ve had recently I want to make sure everyone is aware of an important distinction in goal setting.

There are two types of goals that often get confused in the strategic planning process:strategic planning and goal setting model, replaces the old SMART Goals formula

  • Means Goals
  • Ends Goals

Means Goals:
Means goals are the interim results we need to achieve on the way towards our ultimate desired outcomes.

Ends Goals:
Ends goals are the ultimate end result we desire to achieve

For example, in the work I do with my clients to help them achieve a high-performing, positive, productive and profitable work environment, which is often is defined with specific revenue and profit goals, this is their ultimate ends goal.

To make that ends goal achievable we have to achieve other things such as improving communication in the workplace, breakdown silos across the departments/divisions at various levels of the organization, improve teamwork, internal customer service, etc. These are the means goals.

Its important to understand this difference. If business leaders get stifled on means goals the results will also be less than what is ultimately possible because the means goals will be seen as the ends goals.

For both means goals and ends goals it is also important to define them in measurable terms. How will you know when you have achieved the goals. What evidence will you use to determine if you are effectively moving towards your desired objectives.

Hope these last two articles help as you plan for 2013, which is just around the corner.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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


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