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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)


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


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

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



A-Rod’s Playoff Shananigans Prove Money Not Highest On the Motivation Scale

Last Saturday night in the first game of the American League Championship Series, which ended Thursday when the Detroit Tigers completed their four game sweep of the New York Yankees, the Yankees’ superstar third baseman Alex Rodriguez was caught flirting with female fans in the stands late in an as yet undecided game.

As a former baseball executive and someone that now works with business leaders to create a more motivated work environment focused on achieving organizational goals through high levels of teamwork, I’m appalled by A-Rod’s (Rodriguez’s nickname) actions.

But, it doesn’t surprise me in looking at it from the standpoint of human motivation and focus.

Imagine, if a superstar athlete, playing a child’s game while earning $30 million a year, can’t avoid distractions while participating in a key game on the path to their ultimate vision of winning the World Series, what chance is there to keep the focus and motivation at high levels of every day employees  in small businesses? Not much, I would guess.

This really points out to the fact that money is not the motivating factor so many business leaders think it is, or think it can be. Daniel Pink in his 2010 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us reinforces the role money plays as a motivating factor in small business workplaces.

My challenge with ARod’s behavior is that it also usurps my approach to overcome the money as motivator challenge, which is to encourage business leaders to articulate an inspirational Championship Game Vision for which employees can get inspired by, much like a Major League Baseball player would be inspired and motivated to strive to achieve a World Series victor.

Hmm, not sure where I can go from here to help my clients. Thanks, ARod. Regardless of ARod’s shenanigans, I think I’ll keep my strategy to help my small business clients to create their own inspiring Championship Game Vision. I believe it still does work, thought, at least when you have the right people on the team, and maybe that’s the Yankees problem.

’til next time…enjoy your weekend!

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

A Leadership Communication Model for the Aspiring “Just Right” Goldilocks Leader

Last December I released a new leadership concept called, The Goldilocks’ ‘Just Right’ Leadership Style, you can read more about it at this link.  Getting leadership, “Just Right,” was probably first espoused by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in their work on Situational Leadership in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

For purposes of this article, I want to focus on a leader’s communication style and what it takes to get it “just right.”

In prepping for Month/Lesson 6 in the Leadership Communication Mastery Series last week, which focused on the importance of direct and candid communication in a work environment, I developed a communication model I think will help everyone who is leading a team, a company or even a family communicate more effectively in a way that builds trust and gets results.

Time and time again, in studying leaders one of the most important traits that shows up in the most effective leaders is not just an ability to communicate, but an ability to communicate promptly, directly and respectfully. These 3 components are vital to the success of a leader because it gets to the core of creating a high-trust environment necessary for high-performance.

I have to give credit to a colleague of mine, Libby Wagner of Professional Leadership Results, for identifying these three communication components as a real difference maker. I hope this model below takes it even further to show how important each of the three are in creating a culture of effective, and trust-building communication.

Here’s why:

With this Venn Diagram you see there are four potential combinations and each has its benefits and its challenges:

Prompt/Respectful: This is used when the leader recognizes the issue and tries to confront the individual with a soft approach hoping they “get it.” Most times, they don’t “get it,” including the severity of the issue and the seriousness of the leader making the request for a behavior or performance adjustment. This often involves a lack of specificity and often falls into the category of “beating around the bush.”

Prompt/Direct: This often violates my leadership an workplace communication sin #6 “Lack of Appropriate Tone & Body Language.” The leader with this approach is often reacting immediately, in the moment with little emotional intelligence and as such may do so with a raised voice, pointing fingers, blaming, etc. and may also do so in an inappropriate location such as a public setting, like a meeting of peers, in a hallway or office with others around.

Direct/Respectful: This is communication that comes too late or too far down the road to be effective. The style and approach is correct and would be effective, if the leader would have communicated at the first, most appropriate time. However, this type of communication often comes weeks, sometimes months from the incident causing the recipient of the communication to become resentful and confused as to why the issue wasn’t brought to their attention sooner so they could do something about it.

Prompt/Direct/Respectful: This is “Champion Leadership Communication!” When a leader communicates applying all three of these components it will build trust between him or herself and the individuals they are leading as well as build high trust throughout the team as everyone will feel they are being held to a similar standard. All leaders should be striving for this level in their leadership communication style.

What do you think? How do you stack up? Most leaders are masters at two of the three, which pair do you gravitate towards? Where do you think you spend most of your time? Champion communicators master the complete triad, what about you?

For another powerful concept on leadership communication check out my latest tele class,  Small Business Leadership: The 3 Power Beliefs of Champion Communicators, its already over but you can get access to the recording at

’til next time…make it a great week!

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

Leadership Communication Lesson #4: Communicate With Compassion for Real Connection

Tonight we’re in Milan for the 4th concert of the Springsteen European Tour. I’ve heard many stories about the legendary Italian fans and the concerts in Milan so I’m really looking forward to tonight. After tonight we head to Florence with a stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower then to the show. If you’d like to follow my unique journey go to Facebook to see the map of the path we’ll be taking throughout this tour of Western Europe.

One of the greatest leaders in the history of team sports is National Hockey League Hall of Famer Mark Messier. Messier is the only player in league history to be the captain of two different teams that won the Stanley Cup. Overall in his career he was on a total of six Stanley Cup Championships.

Many leaders believe that communicating with compassion may be considered being a “soft” leader. Yet, no one ever associated the adjective “soft” with Mark Messier, one of the fiercest competitors that combined scoring talents with a physical style of play in the history of the game.

Here’s what Messier once said about the key to leadership:

“To lead, you have to have the trust of the players, and to do that you have to find a way to connect with them, to find common ground with every individual. It’s a people issue, not a sports issue. The way to find that common thread is compassion.” Messier added, “With compassion the appeal to the player is much deeper than the old hard-ass line that you’re going to get reprimanded if you don’t play well. We try to build a team, to bond, through the course of a year. And you can do that if you appeal in a compassionate way.”

If leading with compassion worked for Messier, it’s probably good enough for us, mere mortal leaders.

It’s often been said, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

I’d like to create a similar phrase for leaders to think about regarding building a high-performing team built on high levels of trust by leading with compassion:

“people don’t care how hard you need them to work for your vision, until they know how much you care about them as a human being first, and a team member with a role to fill, second.”

Something to think about?

What do you think of this series on Leadership Communication Lessons? Please leave a comment below and we’ve got two more coming your way before I return to the office on June 14th.

‘next up are concerts after tonight’s show in Milan is Florence, Italy.

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

Leadership Communication Lesson 2: Before You Can Communicate As a Leader, You Have to Connect

(Last night was my first of six concert in Europe with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. First it was Berlin, Germany in the Olympic Stadium. The same Olympic Stadium from the 1936 Hitler Olympics. A very historic stadium, no doubt, and one that is being put to much better use these days. Soon I’ll be posting pictures from my trip on my Facebook page. If you’d like to follow my unique journey go there and you can see the map of the path we’ll be taking throughout this tour of Western Europe. Later today we leave for San SeBastien, Spain, and our next concert June 2nd.

In preparation for my time away, I’ve written a number of blog posts that have been scheduled to go out in advance, here’s #2).

Earlier this week in my blog article I proclaimed that listening is not skill, it is a decision.

That has struck a nerve or two with some people based on the e-mails I’ve been receiving while I’m away (I am checking e-mail but not responding ’til I get home on June 14th).

But, in the meantime, since I figured there would be more questions and counter comments to my proclamation, I thought I’d offer some other points on the subject to clarify what I mean.

First, one of my leadership heroes, John C. Maxwell, who is probably the foremost leadership thought leader today got me thinking when I watched a video he released last week about the power of connection, and how if we want to communicate we first have to connect.

Here’s what I took away from Maxwell’s minute on communication (which you can see at this link):

Two more important things  to understand about the concept of “listening:”

  1. If we want to have other people listen to us, we need to give them a reason to listen to us. Why should they? What’s in it for them to listen? How are we first connecting with them and engaging them so they want to listen?
  2. If other people want us to listen, they need to do the same. The only difference is that we should be sending a message that we are open and interested in giving the other person the opportunity to engage us and connect with us. When you do this the right way, magical things can happen. You may learn something about another that can make the difference in both your lives, you just have to be open to the opportunity and the possibility. (you may say if you did this with everyone you’d have no time to do what you need to do and that’s where being discerning while being able to communicate directly and respectfully so that neither of you waste each other’s time).

When we commit to doing those two things, I think you’ll be amazed at how much  listening improves around us, and within us.

’til next time, make it  a great week!

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

Happy “National Small Business Week” – Here Are 5 Critical Mistakes in Small Business Leadership

This week is the 5th Annual National Small Business Week.

In honor the event I thought I’d offer my 2-cents on the topic of small business leadership.

Many of my blog subscribers attended last week’s webinar on The 5 Critical Mistakes Small Business Leaders Make that Kill Productivity & Profits.

In this webinar I offered 5 things small business leaders must take a look at within their business in order to make sure they are running optimally.

For those of you who did not attend the webinar, I’ll list these five critical mistakes of small business leaders here:

  1. Not having a Championship Game Vision and articulating it clearly and consistently to the team.
    • create something inspiring that employees can get excited about contributing to, just like an athletic team playing for a championship
  2. Not investing enough time in the hiring process
    • invest time and energy making sure the new hire is a fit for the organization’s culture and put more attention on attitude, behaviors, beliefs and work ethic, and get to those through behavioral interviewing strategies
  3. Focusing on time worked vs. job performance results/outcomes
    • too much is focused on accomplished the tasks in job descriptions and ‘FaceTime’ in the office instead of defining clear results/outcomes that should be achieved from the position
  4. Think the paycheck is/should be enough for motivation
    • in the 21st century the paycheck is just not enough to motivate employees, and that’s a good thing as it takes the focus off the money and more on purpose and making a difference.
  5. Proclaiming to have a “Family Atmosphere” and trying to create one
    • Most families are dysfunctional and many family businesses are run dysfunctionally from a personnel perspective. Define the aspects of the culture you would like to incorporate into your organization and build from there, forget about defining it as a ‘family atmosphere.’

If you’d like to take this concept deeper, I encourage you to experience the webinar. If you go to you can download a free mp3 audio recording and view the streaming webinar.

Enjoy National Small Business Week and the free webinar to help you make your business even better!

’til next time, make it a great week!

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



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