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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)


A Succinct Communication Model Every Business Leader & Team Should Be Using

As a communication expert I am always exploring new ways to help my clients communicate within what I now call The Championship Communication Triad, of prompt, direct and respectful communication.

In a discussion this week with my wife’s cousin, an emergency room nurse, she turned me on to a nursing communication model that every bussbariness leader should adopt and adapt.

It’s known by its acronym, SBAR.

SBAR represents for Situation, Background, Assessment & Recommendation.

SBAR was originally created for the nuclear submarine industry, according to Wikipedia.

In 2002, health care company Kaiser Permanente’s vice president of safety management, Doug Bonacum, adopted and adapted it for the company to improve communication between nurses and physicians.

According to a 2007 Kaiser Permanente newsletter “SBAR is designed to convey vital information in as little as 60 seconds.”

Why limit this succinct communication strategy to the nuclear submarine industry and the medical profession?

Everyone reading this can benefit from this style of communication.

Here’s a short example from a nursing-physician patient briefing conversation:

Hello, this is Ron from Med/Surg at OMH. I’m caring for Mr. Tree in room 3. I’m calling regarding his pain control.

Mr. Tree is a 22-year old who had surgical repair of a fractured ankle 2 days ago. He has had very minimal pain control since his surgery. He has an order for Tylenol 650 mg q 4 hours for minimal to moderate pain and Morphine IV, 1-4 mg q 2 hours for severe pain. He does not have any allergies to medications. This is his first time having any type of surgery or significant injury.

Mr. Tree ranks his pain as a 9/10, with a quality of being sharp and radiating to his mid-calf area. He is reluctant to ambulate out of bed, even refusing to get into a chair at the bedside. His pedal pulses are equal, the surgical site is WNL, and all of his vital signs are stable.

I think that Mr. Tree would benefit from some longer-lasting pain medications. What would you prefer to order? Are there any exams or labs you would like to order? What should I call you for in the future regarding his pain control?

This SBAR model can be applied to any communication where situations need to be conveyed and next steps determined quickly.

This approach provides the substantive information necessary to facilitate a 2-way dialogue that builds trust in critical relationships.

What applications do you see for it in your world?

If you were to adopt and adapt it at your company and for your team, how would it improve communication and productivity?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

’til next time, Communicate With Power!

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

Never Thought I Could Do This (it’s all about “Level 1 Leadership Communication”)

SkipGuitarCalgaryStageA phone conversation last fall led to a huge, unexpected breakthrough for me.

It came from the emcee of a large event at which I was speaking.

She called calling to get information about me for her introduction and a little humorous post keynote banter.

Towards the end of our conversation she asked, “Skip, what is your secret talent?”

I let out a nervous laugh and replied, “I have no secret talent, my older brother got all the talent in my family.”

I proceeded to tell about how my infatuation with rock and roll superstar Bruce Springsteen led me to start guitar lessons six years ago.

To which she suggested, “so you can play and sing a song for us.”

“No, I couldn’t do that, it would cause mass evacuation of the venue,” I said.

“You could just strum a few chords, couldn’t you?”

I agreed to that.

Deep down I knew strumming a few chords wasn’t going to be enough.

I hung up the phone thinking, “what did I just get myself into?”

Immediately, I sent a text that read, “HELP!” to my guitar instructor, with whom I had not had a lesson in more than 15 months.

For the next six weeks we rehearsed the song closest to being ready for “prime time.”

Six weeks later, in front of an audience of 800, I delivered a 50-minute keynote address.

Despite the audience size I was completely comfortable doing that.

Not so much with the guitar and singing.

But, there I was, with a guitar wrapped around my neck telling the story about how I had come to put myself in this precarious position and being totally uncomfortable in that moment.

It was the most intense “comfort zone busting” experience I’ve had in a very, very long time.

When it was all over, I was energized and excited having done something in front of 800 people my wife thought I was crazy to do. (to view my performance, go here)

I felt this way despite nerves taking me seriously off key to open the song. Plus, losing my place glancing down at the lyrics in the monitor I didn’t need.

I am now working on refining that song and incorporating four others to prepare for performing at an open mic night somewhere locally.

Our comfort zones hold us back in ways we don’t even realize.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda is the lament of losers. It’s all about our Level 1 Leadership Communication (aka “self-communication).

What comfort zone do you need to bust through in 2015?

What comfort zones are you committed to busting through in 2015?

Leave a comment and commitment below.

’til next time, Communicate with Power!

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


New Year, New Mindset of Abundance Will Make the Difference!

Happy New Year!

Over the holidays, like you, I was engaged in a number of interesting conversations.

My wife, Anne, brought up a topic I never thought I’d hear out of her mouth.

It came to her while listening to one of the podcasts she’s been listening to as she walks to work these days.

The topic was the concept of “abundance vs. scarcity.”

We agreed that having an abundant mindset was the singular most important frame of reference one could have for life.

The opposite, scarcity mindset, came with a lot of stress, cynicism and skepticism.

What is the difference between a mindset of abundance and a mindset of scarcity?

There are some key differences.

People with an abundance mindset see:
•    Unlimited resources instead of scarce resources
•    Opportunities instead of threats
•    Collaboration instead of competition
•    Applicable similarities instead of irreconcilable differences
•    Possibilities for growth instead of fear of loss
•    The sum being of greater value than individual parts
•    Opportunity to build on others’ success instead of a zero-sum game
•    An internal locus of control vs. external controlling factors
•    Internal responsibility instead of external blame

When I was younger if someone I knew received an award or a bonus or secured a new client, I would resent it, and them.

The sad thing was I felt this way whether the individual was working with me in my company or on my team, or if they were a friend in an unrelated field or career.

How crazy is that?

I felt as if their success reflected negatively on me.

In reality, it was the level of results I was producing that determined the impression others had of me.

The only thing preventing me from getting similar accolades, awards, bonuses or a new client was my skills and ability.

I needed to take responsibility for that.

What about you?

What is your relationship with an abundance and scarcity mindset?

Make 2015 the year you shift to a 100% abundance mindset and it will be a great year!

All the best to you, your family and your company in 2015!

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

“Lack of Listening” Is Misplaced Blamed for This Workplace Communication Problem

“Lack of listening” is often among the top complaints about communication in the workplace.

Just as often it is misplaced blame.

This “lack of listening” is identified as the reason people do not follow through on requests.

Parents, you know what I’m speaking about, don’t you?

When our children don’t do what we tell them to, we tell them to “listen to us this time.”

Chances are they “listened” last time. Or at least they heard us.

They just chose not to act.

You have to stop blaming a lack of follow through and action on a “lack of listening.”

Chances are your employees or team members heard you, too.

They, too, just chose not to act.

If this is a problem for you, this is a problem that needs fixing.

The only way to solve a problem is to find its cause.

The cause of people not following through on your requests is not a “lack of listening.”

  • The cause may be a lack of trust and respect with the requester.
  • The cause may be an inability to effectively fulfill the request due to a skill deficit or an attitude problem.
  • The cause may be fear of reprisal for making a mistake.

If this is a problem for you, how can you identify the cause?

If this is a problem for you, what do you have to do to build higher levels of trust and respect with these individuals?

Something to think about?

Have you ever blamed “lack of listening” for someone not following through on your request?

Leave a comment below to continue the discussion.

’til next time, Communicate With Power!

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

What We’ve Got Here is Failure to Communicate

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate!”

Have you ever uttered (or at least thought of uttering) that famous movie phrase.

It’s the 11th most famous movie line of all time. It’s from the 1967 movie, “Cool Hand Luke,” staring Paul Newman.

Most every day people in workplaces all over the globe experience “failure to communicate.”

Funny thing about that, though, is that its not due to lack of trying.

Communication is occurring all the time.

Messages are coming at us more than ever, faster than ever, from more sources than ever.

Maybe that’s part of the problem.

One thing that creates “failure to communicate” is playing the game “this = that.”

I learned this lesson 15-years ago in a personal development seminar.

It was a revelation to me.

Think about how many people, yourself included, play the game “this=that?”

What do I mean?

I mean that we jump to conclusions all the time.

We place meanings on experiences based on our previous experience.

Our brain does that to make sense of the world it lives in, and make our lives easier.

Yet, that brain shortcut gets us into lots of trouble doesn’t it?

Just because someone says or does something in response to something similar you may have said or done yesterday, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as it did yesterday.

It may.

But, it also may not.

Be careful of jumping to conclusions in your communication by playing the game “This=That.”

I’ll write more about this item with a specific example of what I mean next week after the July 4th Independence Day Holiday weekend.

In the meantime, begin to notice how often you play “This=That” and whether it serves you or whether it may be causing your own, “Failure to Communicate.”

Please leave a comment below, if inspired to do so.

’til next time, Communicate with Power!

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

Remove Your L.I.D. to Improve Your Results

There are two contexts of communication you need to be concerned with as you go through your day.

Yet, most of us are only concerned with one.

We think we’re only consciously aware of one.

But, I know we’re not.

We are consciously aware of both.

It seems, though, we just ignore one of them.

And, it’s more than just a shame.

It’s negatively impacting our lives, and the results we can achieve for ourselves, our family and our business.

The one context we focus on is our external communication.

You know, the stuff that comes out of your mouth intended (or sometimes not intended, oops!) for others.

The other context we don’t pay enough attention to is our internal communication.

You know, the little man or little woman inside of you that you talk to ALL THE TIME!

Most of what is called our self-talk is not supporting us in the best way, you know?

Most of our self-talk, or what I call our “internal dialogue” is just endless loop conversations that never move us forward.

It’s what I call your L.I.D. or your “Limiting Internal Dialogue.”

This concept and title recently came to me while coaching my clients in the Communication Power for Leaders virtual training, in which we spent more than 3-hours discussing how to lift their L.I.D.

Think now about your L.I.D.

How is your L.I.D. limiting your personal and professional results.

Your L.I.D. is keeping a lid on the results you could be achieving.

I’ll write more about this soon, for now, this is just a quick note to get you thinking about how your L.I.D. may be limiting your personal and professional results.

Leave your comments below as I’d love to hear about your biggest challenges regarding your L.I.D. and offer you some strategies for removing it.

’til next time, Communicate With Power!

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

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.

Conscious Communicator Tip #39:Today’s Anniversary Celebrates the Power of Brevity

Seven score and 10 years ago the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, delivered what is arguably the most powerful speech by any sitting U.S. president, the Gettysburg Address.

Just 272 words! Lincoln delivered it in just a few minutes on November 19, 1863 to consecrate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Battle of Gettysburg.

We can learn a lot from Lincoln’s speech 150 years ago and none more than the power of brevity.

The original and intended Gettysburg Address was delivered before Lincoln’s comments by former Harvard University President, and United States congressman Edward Everett. Everett’s 13,000 word, two-hour long speech has been long forgotten while Lincoln’s is studied worldwide to this day.

Upon reflection after the event Everett wrote Lincoln saying, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

In my training on The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication I speak to the dangers of a “lack of specificity” in our communication.

Yet, I also caution my audiences to take note that “more words do not necessarily lead to more specificity.”

Lincoln’s address 150 years ago is a great example of what I mean.

Another is comedian Jerry Seinfeld who has said he works for hours cutting a joke from eight words down to six because brevity is power.

And, one reason why I strive to keep these blog articles for you under 300 words.

In honor of the anniversary this article is 272 words!

’til next time communicate with brevity!

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




P.S. If you’d like help communicating to motivate your staff I encourage
you to sign up for a FREE Revolutionary Strategy Session at:

Ask Skip: How Can I Feel Compassion for an Employee Caught Lying & Is Being Deceptive?

All Ask Skip Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication”question here!

Last Friday, June 14th in my Power Word Series, I suggested “compassion” is a Power Word leaders the likes of  basketball hall of fame coach Phil Jackson, and hall of fame hockey player Mark Messier, have used as a key strategy in leading others to multiple championship seasons.

A subscriber to this blog sent me a direct email in response to that blog post asking:

“This is a great article and I am going through a management situation that may require compassion.  However if an employee is caught lying and is being deceptive, should compassion still be utilized? Thank You, Rich M.”

I’m certain this is a question others have asked themselves many times. And, like Rich, I know there are many other subscribers who are facing similar situations today. So, here is my answer to this very challenging leadership communication situation:

The short answer, Rich, is “YES!”

“Yes,” is the answer because being compassionate doesn’t mean that you agree with, or accept, the behavior, and that there will be no repercussions or punishment. It just means you see the other person as a human being with all the positive and negative traits we all have. It is my belief that all humans deserve compassion.

Approaching situations like this raise our level of consciousness and will also allow us as leaders to develop followers who feel trusted and will be willing to take risks. Taking risks is where all personal and professional growth comes from. Without, individuals and organizations become stagnant, and stagnancy leads to decline and death, literally and figuratively.

Here are some tips on how you can be compassionate in these type of situations:

The best way to be compassionate about this situation is to be curious. The reason curiosity is important on the path to compassion is because everything human beings do they do for a reason, and that reason ALWAYS has positive intent behind it. Human beings only do things for positive intent, no matter how destructive the behavior is.

For example, even the most destructive of all human behaviors, suicide, is done for positive intent. This is because the pain of living is so much stronger than the pain of death, and so the belief is that death will alleviate the pain.

So, get curious.

When getting curious the best way is to begin with “empathy.” Empathy is showing that you understand how another person is feeling and why.

From there understanding how a person feels and why they feel that way leads to an understanding as to why they behaved in a certain way, and its the understanding that leads to compassion.

Again, compassion doesn’t mean that you agree with or accept the behavior, nor that there will be no repercussions or punishment. It just means that you understand and care about the other individual as a human being and want to do the best thing for all concerned, instead of focusing on revenge and getting even, which is personally destructive to ourselves and not so much the perpetrator.

Does that make sense and/or help in any way?

Either way, leave a comment below and let me know so we can continue the discussion!

’til next time, make it a great week!

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

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