Stepping Stool Coaching – Step Up Your Conversations To Reach New Heights


Does it sometimes feel like your employees are lying down on the job?

There are so many things that they could be doing to help your business!

And, nothing you say or do seems to make a difference?

It’s so frustrating, isn’t it?!!

During  Covid-19 times, the stakes are higher. You are working harder and doing more to keep your business moving.

If only your employees would just get with the program!!

It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Here is a game changing tip:


What’s the difference between responding and reacting?

REACTING  is communicating without any awareness and from whatever emotion or energy hits you when you see the gap between how the employee is functioning and what you’d like him to be doing.

RESPONDING, is taking in what’s happening, how it is affecting you, making an intentional choice around what do or say next.

Here is an example of a leader reacting:

An employee has added up the sale wrong. The manager scolds him:

“You messed it up. Now we have to take a loss! What were you thinking! How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?”

That is a REACTION

It comes from YOUR emotion, from the stress that YOU feel in that moment.

It comes from the place of blame and shame and makes the employee feel bad.

Not that you will see the employee feel bad.

The employee will more likely hide that vulnerability and get defensive, or stop caring, have a declining performance or stay rebellious and angry.

You have compromised your relationship and your connection with the employee which diminishes your ability to influence the employee which will affect your bottom line.

In contrast, here is an example of a RESPONSE:

The manager feels frustrated, takes a deep breath, notices how she feels then turns his attention to the experience of her employee.

“There is a mistake here. Can you look with me to see where it happened?”

Perhaps the employee will see the mistake and be able to correct it himself.  

The manager might then say, “Oh, here it is. I see what happened. Okay, let me show you what to do, so this doesn’t have to happen again.”

In this second example you have probably made the employee feel uncomfortable, but you have given her a chance to find her mistake and offer support for future success.

Responding allows you to set the standard while offering the support the employee needs to reach it.

By responding instead of reacting, you gain your employees trust which will positively affect your bottom line.

Some of you will ask – but what about the consequence?  Shouldn’t the employee experience criticism, negativity and punishment in order to know never to do it again?

I get where you are coming from. It is natural for us to want to “punish” someone for what they did wrong.

Punishing is more about making you feel control then actually changing their behavior.

So, I ask you to think about what helps you be successful. Which is the better teacher for you?

Someone in a higher status punishing you?

Shaming and blaming you for making mistakes?

Or someone bringing it to your awareness, letting you know about the problem and offering a way to solve it or learn to solve it?

Leah Zimmerman is an Intergenerational Resolving Conflict Expert and Family Business Advisor who makes hard conversations easy. She blends her background in education, theater, personal development and spirituality to create transformational conversations for individuals, teams and families. Find Leah on Linkedin at to learn more.