Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: September 2013

It’s a leader’s job to actively promote lifelong learning

CGA0910-2013CoverThe ongoing skill development of your people is your responsibility.  Period.  There, I said it!

Yes, it may ultimately be the folks in training or HR who will design and deliver the learning programs that your staff need, but it is your job to create a positive learning culture in your company or department — a culture that supports and insists that learning continue over a lifetime. You can’t just pass it over to another department and then wash your hands of any responsibility! Delegation is appropriate, but abdication isn’t!  Continue reading

Build a stronger working relationship by finding out your boss’ objectives

GoalsSignContinuing in our series of things you can do to build a better working relationship with your boss, here’s one more idea.

Find out what your boss’ objectives and key issues are.  What his financial or operational targets are?  What is going to be driving her actions in the coming year? What’s keeping him up at night?  Ask questions to uncover this information.  And as you listen, think about what you can do to help further his/her goals.  Offer to take on small components of whatever matters to the boss, or offer up solutions that you are already aware of.  Remember Continue reading

Build a stronger working relationship by learning more about your boss’ style

Last week I started a series of blog posts on how to build a stronger relationship with your boss by talking about the importance of keeping your boss informed.

Conversation of  business peopleContinuing with that series, here’s a second idea: learn more about your boss’ style.  Is he a big picture or a detail person? Does she prefer to work with in-depth background information or summarized recommendations? Does he have a tendency to micro-manage or is he comfortable with a more hands-off approach?  When you know more about your boss’ style, you can flex your style to become more useful and reliable to him or her.  Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about your boss’ working style. Listening and acting on the answers is just good sense — it will set you well on the path to repeated success. Continue reading

Build a stronger working relationship by keeping your boss informed

Your ultimate career success as a leader depends on how well you build relationships with the people around you, and that most definitely includes your boss.  Usually on this blog, we discuss relationships with employees, but today and for the next few posts, I want to switch it up a little; I want to talk about what you’re doing to build a solid relationship with your boss.

TelephoneCanHere’s one thought — keep the boss informed.  The worst thing is for the boss to hear “it” from someone else, particularly if it’s unpleasant information.  Make it a habit to update the boss regularly, perhaps a coffee conversation every few days, or a quick email summary once a week.  If it’s bad news, don’t put it off.  Bad news is like bad food, the longer it sits the worse it tastes.  Take a deep breath and get on with it. Continue reading

How can you get people to change before it becomes a crisis situation?

I was talking to a friend and professional colleague from the United Kingdom the other day about what it takes to effect change in individuals and organizations.  I resorted to an oft-quoted truism to support the point I was making —

People change when the pain of where they are becomes greater than the pain of where they might be.

She looked up, interested, because this was not a axiom she was familiar with (guess it isn’t used as much in the U.K.!).  She continued on to tell me a story, one I had not heard before, to illustrate the same point.  Her metaphor, well-known in change management circles in the U.K., is so relevant and insightful that I wanted to share it with all of you (in case you hadn’t heard it before either).

Alpha-PiperDaryl Conner is a change management consultant who recounts this “burning platform” story in his book “Managing at the Speed of Change”.  The Piper Alpha was a North Sea oil and gas drilling and production platform off the coast of Scotland operated by Occidental Petroleum.  On July 6, 1988, it was destroyed by a disastrous explosion and the resulting oil and gas fires.  More devastatingly, the catastrophe killed 167 people, including two crewmen of a rescue vessel.  One of the 61 crew members who survived was Andy Mochan, a superintendent on the rig.  Continue reading

People judge you based on your writing skills!

HandsKeyboardFair or not, people make judgements about your intelligence, your competence, and even your integrity based on the quality of your writing.  Which is worth keeping in mind in today’s harried world of texting and email.  In the haste to get things done, you’re much more likely to make writing mistakes and use colloquialisms or acronyms, all of which come across as if you are uneducated, uninformed, and even lazy!  So it’s worth the effort to make sure that what you send out in writing reflects your true capabilities.  Continue reading

Courtesy and respect are key to building workplace relationships

CandleWax. It’s normally rigid and brittle, but a little bit of warmth can soften it right up, and it can then be molded into any shape you please.

It’s a lot like working with people. A little bit of warmth (read: courtesy and respect) can relax and temper your relationships, and make those who work with you more flexible, agreeable and cooperative.

Warning: when it comes to relationships, your intention matters. If you’re being outwardly polite simply to manipulate another person, then you’ll quickly be found out and your scheming will backfire. Continue reading

To motivate employees, flex those hours

clockEarlier this week, I started an occasional series of posts that focuses on zero-cost and inexpensive ways to create a positive and motivating work environment.  Saying thank you was first on the list (and that means saying it, not just thinking it).  Not far behind in terms of value for what it costs (nothing), is flexible work schedules.  When you give your employees latitude in determining their work schedules and the flexibility to take time to attend to family or personal issues (such as banking errands or doctor’s appointments), you take giant steps in building trusting and mature relationships with your staff.  As long as Continue reading

To motivate employees, say thank you

ThankYouGround-breaking research on employee motivation conducted by Dr. Elton Mayo in the 1930’s gave rise to the Hawthorne Effect.  In essence, the Hawthorne Effect describes a fundamental concept that may seem obvious to us today: that workplaces are social environments and people thrive in positive and respectful surroundings.

So, as a leader, when you create a positive atmosphere at work, you are much more likely to secure your employees’ cooperation and loyalty, and thus improve productivity and performance. Which begs the question – what specific things are you doing to create such an environment, and motivate and encourage your employees to peak performance?  Well today I want to start an occasional series of posts that focuses on zero-cost or inexpensive ways to do just that.  I’ve got one idea for you today, one later this week, and every so often over the next few months, I’ll add to our ongoing list.  And as we go along, please feel free to add to the list!

So I’ll kick off this series with quite possibly the most (glaringly) obvious one — say thank you!  It’s what our mothers taught us years ago, and it’s as golden now as it was back then.  Continue reading