Call Us Today: 845-463-3838

improved leadership

Tag Archives

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 #4 – Always Presume Good Intent (300 words or less)

Conscious communicators become “champion” power communicators when they adopt certain beliefs about how they should communicate. Over the next three weeks you will learn the top 3 beliefs that make the difference in your ability to exert positive influence.

The first of these 3 beliefs is, Presume Good Intent.

Imagine how many times someone initiates a conversation and you immediately put a wall up anticipating the individual has an ulterior motive or agenda behind their communication. You are presuming negative, maybe even, manipulative intent.

Often, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It causes you to recognize only behaviors that reinforce your beliefs and you delete any possible behavior not be consistent with your beliefs.

As a leader, this is not conducive to generating effective results with others. The only approach for a leader is to presume good intent.

If you have ‘history’ with an individual, you absolutely have a right to be cynical. Yet, as a leader it is incumbent upon you to take each situation as it comes and realize that the 
past does not necessarily equal the future.

Presuming positive intent leads you to communicate with an open mind, allowing for a discussion of possibilities and opportunities.

If you have significant history with this individual, you can always use President Ronald Reagan’s Cold War approach of “trust and verify.”

Additionally, realize that all human beings only do things for positive intent, and even though that positive intent may be extremely selfish and self-serving, it still comes with that foundation, and we all have that right.

As a leader it is our responsibility to help the individual see how their approach is counter to their best interests, then influence their communication style.

This approach will allow you to reinforce your belief and presume good intent” every time.

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

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

Leadership Made Simple – The Only 3 Skills Organizational Leaders Need

I guess its not surprising that the first day back in the office from a workshop on “common sense” consulting, I’m writing a blog post on simplifying leadership.

Search Google for the keyword “leadership” and you will get 513 million results in .15 seconds.

That’s a lot of leadership advice. Somewhere in those 513 million Google search responses are some articles from my Leadership & Workplace Communication blog. And, today I want to synergize everything I know about leadership down to balancing these 3 simple skills:

  • Ability to learn from the past and apply those learnings to future actions and behaviors.
  • Focusing on what can be controlled in the present and take action only on those.
  • Creating an inspiring vision for the future and communicate it in a way to engage others.

For now, that’s all you need to know.

If you have something that does not or cannot fit within those three, leave a note and let’s discuss.

’til next time…make it a great week!

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

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith Was Half-Right

Recently I’ve started quoting executive coach to millionaire CEOs Marshall Goldsmith from his book What Got You Here, What Won’t Get You There! (a book I strongly recommend to my clients who want to take themselves and their teams to the next level).

The book is written for executives who want to move up the corporate ladder. It explains that the primary thing keeping most men and women from getting their ideal position isn’t their knowledge, skills or experience in the technical, tactical or strategic activities in their present role, but their people skills. He offers many resources to build better soft skills in being better in influencing others around them in a positive manner.

I’ve been using that phrase in another context for the leaders of small businesses I’ve been working with this year. The context relates to their business as it presently exists and where they want to go with it.

It’s a great metaphor for getting to the next level in any endeavor. It’s a metaphor all business leaders should be using.

When I was delivering this message in a client’s team development workshop an audience member made the point that the statement is only 0ne-half to two-thirds true. In making his point he made sure I understood that he had some habits and traits that significantly contributed to his success to this point in his life and were still very valid to help him get to the next level. I had to agree with him.

If we’ve achieved any level of success in our life or business we have done some things right. Some of those things we should keep doing because they work and they will continue to work at any level. Some will not and need to be changed.

The key is knowing the difference!

The key is knowing what to keep from the behaviors that got us to where we are, and then being honest with ourselves, our employees and even our customers/clients to let go of what will no longer serve us on our journey to the next level. That’s where a business coach can help.

Coaching Exercise Question:
If you were completely honest with yourself what are three habits, behaviors, tendencies, skills you must change or improve to get you and/or your business to the next level?

(If you’ve got the guts, share you answer and make a public commitment below, and get the final third of the year off to a great start, who’s game?)

’til next time, make it a great weekend!

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


“As Soon As Possible” Is Just NOT Acceptable In Leadership & Workplace Communication

Every time I hear an outgoing voice mail message state, “please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible,” I cringe.

Whenever I read an e-mail requesting that I respond “as soon as possible,” I smile and shake my head.

It doesn’t seem to matter at what level of an organization the individual works in, this phrase ubiquitous.

It’s also a waste of time, literally and figuratively. Why? Because…

  1. It violates Leadership & Workplace Communication Sin #1 – A Lack of Specificity!
  2. It says absolutely nothing and means nothing, it is one of the emptiest phrases in the english language.
  3. It puts the person to whom it is being communicated to in a state of uncertaintyUncertainty is one of the worst human emotions we can experience. Why would we want to put another human being in that state?

Additionally, it is simply weak, powerless communication. Or as one of my mentors Anthony Robbins would say, “it is loser language!”

Most often this weak, powerless communication comes from organizational leaders that need to influence others to get things done. Then, they are left wondering why they are constantly waiting for people to get things done for them on time and at deadline (if, necessary).

Communicating in this manner is the cause of three problems in the workplace:

  1. Stress
  2. Mis-communication and mis-understandings
  3. Low productivity and missed deadlines

Call my voice mail and you will hear a specific commitment for a reply, “I promise to return your call by voice, e-mail or text within 3 hours.”

I get a lot of comments from people who leave a message for me regarding that commitment, mostly surprise, and others letting me know if they call after hours I do not need to reply late into the evening and my reply can wait. Its rather humorous!

You don’t need to have a commitment with as short a turn around as my three hours, but you must give some certainty to when someone can expect a reply. Make it 4-hours, by the end of the day, within 24 hours, by the end of the week, month, etc. whatever, just give people certainty as to when they will hear back from you.

This “as soon as possible” phrase also needs to be eliminated in other areas of our business. Especially when we are making a request of someone. How many times do we ask something of someone with less than a specific deadline, such as,

“Please get this back to me with your comments ‘as soon as possible.’ ”

Or maybe you are communicating with your spouse about coming home from the office at the end of the day and you say, “I’ll be home as soon as possible.” I’m sure this happens often in relationships and we wonder why “communication” erodes overtime in intimate personal relationships.

What does that phrase mean?

How long can you wait to reply? Technically, forever.

“As soon as possible” is in the eye, and within the realm, solely of the person responding. The person, probably you, making the request loses control of the issue and their (your) ability to influence the timing of any response.

If you want to be a more powerful leader and be able to influence people to follow you in a very positive, direct way, lose the phrase “as soon as possible,” immediately. Oooops, I mean, before the end of this week and by that I mean take the first step by changing your outgoing voice mail message by 5pm Eastern time, this Friday, July 27th.

If you’d like to become an even more powerful team leader, or leader of a small business team of employees, you are going to want to join me this coming Tuesday, July 31st at 4pm for my newest webinar, “Avoiding the 5 Critical Mistakes of Small Business Leadership.”

You can register free at this link:

’til next time, make it a great week!

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 #3: Here Are Listening Skills to Use

(Over the weekend we had back to back shows, Saturday it was San SeBastien, Spain and Sunday it is was Lisbon, Portugal. Didn’t have much time between shows as it was a full day’s drive between the two cities. We’re halfway done with the tour, 3 shows to go, heading to Italy next, but we’ve got 3 full days to get there, so we have a little time for some site seeing along the way. We’ll be going through Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, Spain, through the South of France into Italy for our next concert in Milan on June 7th. Check out pictures from my trip on my Facebook page.

Next stop, Madrid!
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.

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 #3).

OK, I have to admit, there are some skills involved with effectively listening. But, my caveat is that they only work when we make the decision that it is important to listen as I argued in my article “Listening is Not a Skill, It’s a Decision,” kicking off this series on leadership communication.

Here are 3 actual listening skills you can practice to make the person you are communicating with feel like you are listening:

  1. Eye contact – maintain focused, appropriate eye contact with the person with whom you are speaking. Make sure you are not staring, and that you blink regularly, but maintain focus on the person. The best leaders do this extremely well. And, when you do this, you will make the person with whom you are communicating feel like the most important person in the world. If you want to influence someone, this is key (if you are communicating with someone not of western culture you may want to learn a little about the culture of the person as in some cultures direct eye contact is a sign of dis-respect and deferred eyes shows respect.).
  2. Listen actively – there is a curriculum around the concept of “Active Listening.” This includes #1 and #3 in this list but also includes some of these strategies:
    • Nodding your head when key points are made to show you are paying attention.
    • Giving brief affirming statements, such as, “I see,” “I understand,” “make sense,” etc. when you hear points that strike you as important to the person speaking. These body language signals and short commentary should be done so as not to interfere with the individual that is speaking but should look to affirm and compliment their style.
    • Giving enough time when it seems as though the person has completed their thought before responding. You may even want to count to 3 before doing so, to ensure the person has finished.
  3. Ask clarifying questions or statements to go deeper – one of the most powerful active listening skills is taking what the person has said and identify questions you can ask for the person to go deeper, or simply making statements such as:
    • Tell me more
    • Why is that?
    • Use the echo strategy. Taking the last word or two the person has said and repeating it back, such as, “I knew I’d have a lot on my plate when I returned from vacation.” All you would say with an inquisitive tone, “your vacation?” And, this will have the person automatically go into talking about their vacation.

So, those are 3 power listening strategies. They are definitely skills that we need to learn and practice. Once we do, then it becomes a decision to use them. The more we practice those skills, the better we get, and the more they will become a habit, and then the decision I wrote about last week becomes an unconscious one.

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 in Milan and Florence, Italy.

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


Page 1 of 3123

Claim Your Free REPORT:

"The Employee Motivation Equation"

A Simple 3-Part Formula that Inspires Employees to Contribute Better Than Ever:

Our Clients Include:

Inspired Audience Member Shares His Experience

“You really inspired me! Your keynote address gave me the guts to begin shouting from the mountaintop…

‘Hire me, I am good at what I do!’ ”

Mark Curtis
TV Anchor & Author

The City of Hartford MHIS Division

Satisfied Clients Speak

"The work Skip did with our Information Technologies Division transformed how we communicate and work together, including bringing us a new identity and name, as the city’s Metro Hartford Innovation Services Department.

Skip’s ability to customize his approach and bring flexibility to our specific needs, situation and unique work environment, gave us just what we needed, when we needed it. He’s been a pleasure to work with and brought our organization high-value and a measurable return on our investment."

Sabina E. Sitaru, PMP MISM
Chief Innovation Officer
The City of Hartford & Hartford City Schools