Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Survey deadline just five days away!

Our survey deadline is 11:45 PM MST on December 2, 2011, only five days away! This is your chance to win one of four valuable prizes, and our chance to get your input for our topics and content for our 2012 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences.

Click here for our quick ‘n’ easy survey

In return for your time, we’ll enter your name in a draw for four chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. There are fifteen you can choose from, and you can preview them all here.

Do it now – in won’t take more than 5 minutes, we promise! We’ll announce the winner here as well as in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute.

Good listening is a learned skill

In the past, I’ve talked about how the the disparity between how fast we can talk and how fast the human brain can process information is a major contributor to poor listening (see Good listening: it’s about staying “checked-in”).  And if that wasn’t bad enough, there are all kinds of mental and physical barriers that get in the way of good listening as well.  So what’s a person to do, you might ask?  With the odds stacked against us, it is really possible to be a good listener?  The unequivocal answer is yes!

But listening, like any other skill, is one that gets better with use and practice.  If you play a sport of any kind, then you know exactly what I mean.  Let’s just say that your sport of choice is golf.  If you think back to the very first time you picked up a club and went out on the course, the chances are good that you didn’t play like a pro.  In fact, you probably weren’t very good at all.  But with practice, you got better!  And that’s exactly how it is with listening.  The more you make an effort at it, the more you focus on improving your skill, the better you will get at it.

Because I know that I am not naturally a good listener (I prefer to speak, after all :)), I call myself a work-in-progress.  All that means is that even though I am not a perfect listener today, I am better at it now than I was a year ago, and a year ago, I was a better listener than I was two years ago.  You get the idea!

So what about you?  Are you a good listener?  What are you doing to get better everyday?

 

Giving negative feedback? Focus on the problem, not the person

Giving negative feedback to employees is a task no one looks forward to. But, if you’re in a position of leadership, sooner or later, you’ll be called upon to do exactly that! So how can you be more effective? In past blog posts, I’ve shown you how to focus on fact rather than opinion, and how to emphasize the future and not the past. This short video illustrates one more tip to deliver the message in such a way so that other person is more likely to listen (and act) on what you say.

So … what are you saying or doing to increase that likelihood that the feedback you offer to others is heard and acted upon?

Help us decide, and win a prize!

We need your help! We’re developing the topics and content for our 2012 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences and in return for 5 minutes of your time, we’ll give you four chances to win!

Just complete this quick ‘n’ easy survey

In return for your time, we’ll enter your name in a draw for four chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. There are fifteen you can choose from, and you can preview them all here.

The deadline to enter is 11:45 PM MST Friday December 2, and we’ll announce the winner here as well as in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute. Do it now – in won’t take more than 5 minutes, we promise!

Click here to go to the survey.

Focus on results, not on the process

I had a baffling experience at my local post office the other day.  It’s a small satellite office with only two counters available to assist customers, and as I walked up, I noticed that ropes were set up to guide customers in the queue as they waited for the next available agent.  Fortunately, there was nobody in line in front of me, so I was able to walk directly up to the only agent that was working that morning.  As I placed my envelope on the counter, she looked up and said, “Ma’am, you’ll have to go through the line.”  I thought she was joking as I looked back over both my shoulders, chuckled and said “There isn’t anyone in line.”  Her voice got a little firmer, “Please ma’am, I’ve been instructed that I cannot wait on you unless you come through the line.”  A little bewildered, I thought perhaps I was on a revival of the Candid Camera television show.  So I retraced my steps back through the short maze, turning right and then left and came to a stop beside the sign that said “Please Wait For The Next Available Agent.”  Sure enough, once I got there, she looked up at me and said, “Can I help you?”

As I walked out of the store after concluding my business, I didn’t know whether to laugh or shake my head in disbelief.  My first instinct was to berate the employee – I mean, what happened to common sense?  But then I realized that it was more the organization’s fault than the employee’s.  Someone in management had so strongly impressed upon this person the importance of tasks and processes that she completely lost sight of her overriding and ultimate objective which was to serve the customer efficiently and effectively.  This is a classic case of following directions blindly even if it gets you to the wrong destination.  Unfortunately, by laying too much emphasis on processes and procedures, management has set this employee up to fail.  It occurred to me that perhaps similar scenarios occur more often than we might realize.  In the pursuit of standardization, could you perhaps have inadvertently created a similar situation where the emphasis is now placed on the process rather than on the outcome?  Or have you seen examples similar to what I just experienced?  I’d love to hear from you.

Four great prizes up for grabs! Complete our survey for a chance to win!

We want your help in planning our 2012 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences, AND we’re giving away PRIZES in return for your help! It will take less than 5 minutes of your time!


Click here to complete the survey

For four years now, you, our clients, have helped make our quarterly learning series hugely popular, so in return for your help, we think it’s only fair that we give you four chances to win your choice of one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. Fifteen to choose from, each one offers specific, practical and hands-on skills to become a better leader. Whether it’s delegating the right way, overcoming negativity in the workplace, having difficult conversations with employees, or just learning to communicate more persuasively, each one gets right to the heart of the issue and gives you what you need to know! If you want to see what you’ll be making your prize selection from, click here.

We’ll take your responses until 11:45 PM MST Friday December 2, and then we’ll randomly draw for four winners. We’ll announce the winners here on my blog, and also in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute.

Do it now – click here – and thanks for your help!

How to create a high-performing work team – live audio event on November 16

Diverse personalities and working styles can be the source of immense conflict OR the foundation of team effectiveness! It depends on your perspective AND what you do to capitalize on the differences. If your workplace team is dysfunctional (and driving you crazy), then it IS possible to stop the suffering! It IS possible to turn the differences into highly productive strengths!

Join me, Merge, for one fast-paced and content-rich hour in which you’ll learn in-depth, step by step, how create high-performing teams.

Click here to register now.

Even if your people seem to be working well together, there is always room to make things even better.  Learn specific and practical tools to take your team from storming to performing.  And if you act by November 9, you can take advantage of early bird savings!

Here’s some of what you’ll learn:

  • An in-depth understanding of the four essential working styles that are fundamental to a high-performing team
  • Three definitive actions that YOU can take build and support your high-performing team
  • Why lack of conflict on a team often points to team ineffectiveness AND how to get past the pitfalls that accompany too much conformity
  • Two easy questions to ask yourself to quickly determine what strengths (and weaknesses) each of your employees brings to the team
  • How to pinpoint exactly where you are on the team development life cycle (and why it matters)

Join me on November 16, 2011 at 11 AM MST. Early bird pricing in effect ONLY until this Wednesday November 9!

Click here to register, or for more information.

Energy-boosting tips for leaders-on-the-move (Part I)

My professional colleague (and good friend) Michelle Cederberg, CSP is a health and productivity expert who helps people with full schedules and a long list of responsibilities maximize their personal energy so they can optimize their productivity and success!  Hmm, full schedules and a long list of responsibilities …. well, if that doesn’t sound like every leader I know!  So I asked her if she would give our readers some quick and easy tips on how to do exactly that.  Michelle went all out; she was an absolute treasure trove of simple yet powerfully effective tips to take small steps toward big changes, so that you can find energy, productivity and success – even with a busy schedule!

In today’s blog post, she’s going to give us scads of ideas in three categories. And at the end, if you hankering for some more, fret not dear reader, I’ve already invited Michelle back!  She’s promised to guest on this blog again next month (December 1) and you can count on even more tips to become more energetic, productive and successful.

Ahhh leadership! It’s a roller coaster ride of success and stress. Every day is fraught with highs and lows that keep you on your toes at a level far beyond life before leadership. Even still, every day you get to work at something you love, inspire your team toward common goals, put out fires, problem solve, maybe even change the world. To really amp up your effectiveness against that mounting to-do list you better arm yourself with energy-generating strategies. But it’s not like you haven’t got other things to do right? Continue reading