Merge's Blog

Yearly Archives: 2014

We’ll be back on January 9!

happynewyearAs is customary for us at this time of the year on the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog, we are taking a short break over the holiday season. I’ll be back full-steam ahead on Friday January 9. In the meantime, all of us here hope that you and your loved ones have a festive, joyous, fun and excitement-filled holiday season. I look forward to our conversations in 2015 as we launch yet another great year of sharing and exchanging leadership tips and ideas.

Sentiment (emotional intelligence) HAS a place in business!

BostonBlackieA long-time subscriber (thanks Ric!) sent me this quote stated boldly by a villain in an old Boston Blackie movie:

Sentiment has no place in business

And he posed the question – true or false? Well (not surprisingly 🙂 ), I have an opinion. I say “false”, absolutely false. And that’s because “sentiment”, to me, means emotional intelligence (link to a self-assessment).

True, historically, emotions have rarely been welcome in the workplace. In fact, in some organizations we were told: emotions are messy, they get in the way, and they should be left at home. In fact, to be honest, you might hear that in some organizations even today. All this because, traditionally, business believed that good decisions were based on rational thinking and logic. But the reality is that emotions are a fundamental part of who we are. Continue reading

One phrase that can sabotage your credibility

ThumbsDownI’ve blogged previously about how we sometimes use phrases that cause us to be viewed by others as tentative, unsure, and hesitant, and thus inadvertently minimize our power, credibility and impact. See Phrases that diminish your power of persuasion. I heard another one recently – “This won’t take more than just a minute.”

It was said by someone who intended to be helpful, but I observed how this seemingly innocuous phrase not only set the stage for failure, but also diminished the value of what this person was offering. Continue reading

A freezing icy lesson on achieving goals

Late last month, while I was at a client event in Edmonton AB, winter arrived in all its fury! Now I shouldn’t be surprised, I do live in Canada after all 🙂 . But an unexpected snowy mishap gave me a chilly lesson in achieving goals – a freezing reminder of why it’s important to be pointed in the right direction if you want to get to your intended destination! Let me explain.

SnowyParkingOvernight, in a matter of less than twelve hours, over a foot of snow had fallen in the city. In the morning, I drove from my hotel to the event location and pulled into the parking lot … which was covered in deep and heavy snow. As I pulled into a spot, my car got stuck. I tried in vain to alternately go both backward and forward, but the wheels spun uselessly and I could not get out. After about 10 minutes of trying all the driving “tricks” most Canadians are familiar with, I finally braved the sub-zero temperature to get out of my car and take a closer look at the problem. Continue reading

What can I do for you?

Is there anything I can do for you?

This is the question posed by Colleen Albiston, chief marketing officer at Deloitte Canada, and my fellow columnist at The Globe and Mail in her column last week: Don’t forget to ask: What can I do for you?

It’s a question every leader should be asking of their staff, their customers, their peers and even their superiors. Colleen describes, and very rightly so, that this question is an enabler. It opens the door for others to ask you for help – whether it’s advice, resources, or access to connections – AND it sets you up so that you can reach out to others when you need energy, enthusiasm or people power to take you further. Perhaps even more importantly, when you ask this question with a genuine interest in helping others achieve their goals, you create a workplace environment that is team-oriented and supportive. As a leader, you are a role model, and this question sets the tone for those who work with and for you.

Now not everyone agrees with me. Some people have expressed concern that this is a dangerous question to ask. Continue reading

Defensiveness in employees – who is really at fault?

Businessman OppressedLast week I received an unexpected phone call from a speaking colleague that made me think about defensiveness in employees in a whole new light.

This colleague called because she wanted to offer me “feedback” about an email I’d sent her in which I was soliciting support for a charitable cause launched by our professional association (of which we are both members). In case you’re wondering 🙂 her “feedback” wasn’t positive – she felt my writing was aggressive and was upset that I had contacted her on this subject. Ironically, I had sent an almost identical email to several other colleagues (also members of the association), and had already received responses from at least three of them complimenting me on a well-written missive and thanking me for reaching out to them. So needless to say, I was nonplussed by her reaction. Now I’m not averse to receiving feedback, negative or positive, particularly given that it’s something I encourage my clients to be willing and open to do. Continue reading

To motivate employees, organize a team volunteer event

multi-ethnic volunteer group hands together showing unityEarlier this week, I offered up an idea in my continuing series on posts on zero and low-cost ways to motivate employees – make work fun.  I plan to write more about this subject in the upcoming months.  But for now, I also promised another zero or low-cost way to inspire and excite employees this week, so here it is – organize a team volunteer event.

Increasingly, organizations – small, large and in-between – are recognizing the value of employee volunteerism.  The reality is that when a team of people works together in harmony and fun to achieve something useful and worthwhile, then they are more engaged and more productive.  And when that “something” is a charitable pursuit that is important to one or more of your team members, then you’ve got a sure-fire recipe for success.  Whether it’s spending the afternoon sorting food at the local food bank, doing some yardwork for a house-bound senior citizen, or fixing the patio at the local children’s club, a team volunteer project encourages teamwork, improves communication, promotes leadership, enhances employee loyalty and retention, increases job satisfaction and morale, and even improves productivity and on-job-performance.  Score!!

Some tips to make this really work: Continue reading

To motivate employees, make work fun

I regularly blog about zero and low-cost ideas to motivate employees.  My last three posts on this subject were:

funSo this week, I thought I’d offer you two more ideas.  Today’s proven technique – make work fun.

Over and over again, organizational research has shown that when employees have fun at work, they are more engaged in their work responsibilities and they perform better on the job. Workplace fun has been shown to increase employee morale, boost creativity and innovation, enhance performance, improve organizational commitment, and decrease turnover.  All very good reasons for you to create a playful and productive environment in your workplace! But … would your employees say that they find their work environment enjoyable, entertaining, playful and encouraging? Continue reading

Active listening can be accomplished by taking notes

writingEarlier this week I offered up a technique to become a more active listener – paraphrasing.  And I promised I’d share one more idea today.  So here it is – take notes.  Yes, that’s right, taking notes will lead to more active listening.  I know that may sound counterintuitive – after all, taking notes would draw your attention away from listening, wouldn’t it?  Not so.  As long as you’re not transcribing, word-for-word, your conversation, you should be fine.  The point of taking notes is to jot down key words and phrases to jog your memory later, not to record the conversation in detail.  And once again, as it was for paraphrasing, taking notes itself doesn’t make you a better listener; it’s because your brain is engaged (because you’re taking notes) that you have a reason to stay present and checked-inContinue reading

Paraphrasing leads to active listening

Listening To GossipThe skill of active listening is of great advantage in the workplace.  Sure, when you listen well it gives you access to information, data that you can use to make better decisions, but the benefits go beyond just this obvious advantage.  Active listening is also a huge motivator – when you listen to what your employees have to say, it affirms them and thus builds and nurtures great working relationships.  Which is why I often blog about what specific techniques leaders can use to become more active listeners.  Last May I wrote about asking questions as a way to improve listening.  Today and later this week, I have two more ideas.  Today’s technique – paraphrase.

Paraphrasing is when you repeat back, in your own words, what you heard the other person say.  So for example: Continue reading