Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2015

How to keep your best people? Support work-life balance

For the past two weeks, I’ve been doing a series of blog posts on what leaders can do to stop their best people from walking out the door. Here’s one final idea in this series – support work-life balance.

WorkLifeBalanceWhen organizations and their leaders support work-life balance, what they’re really doing is recognizing that employees have important family and extraprofessional obligations that compete with their workplace commitments.   Whether it is dependent care leave, childcare subsidies, eldercare programs, counseling and referral, or flexible working hours, these values allow people to strike a more meaningful and potentially less stressful balance between obligations at the workplace and obligations at home. And this matters! Companies that support and truly live and breathe work-life balance deeply engage their employees. In fact, the research has shown that employees will accept slightly lower than average salaries in order to achieve work-life balance! Continue reading

How to keep your best people? – create a fun workplace filled with laughter

Cheerful colleagues around laptop working together in bright offContinuing with our series on how to stop your best people from walking on the door, today’s suggestion is to create a fun workplace filled with laughter. The research shows that there is a direct correlation between workplace fun, productivity and employee retention. People who have fun at work want to come to work and want to stay at work. So as a leader, consciously plan to create opportunities for fun. When things get busy, fun falls by the wayside, so it’s important to keep it front and centre in your mind. When you look at the research as to what constitutes “fun”, (not surprisingly perhaps) food tends to top the list. Whether it’s going out for a meal; having a potluck lunch or dinner; celebrating employees’ birthdays by bringing in cake and ice cream; bringing in pizza, sandwiches or donuts, the research shows that culinary delights are clearly a way that people have fun and bond together. But it is more than just food that makes the top ten fun list! Fun contests, events and outings also rank high. Continue reading

How to keep your best people? Open the lines of communication

bigstock-Two-People-Having-A-Conversati-43044697Last week I started the second wave of a series of blog posts on what it takes to stop your best people from jumping ship. Today’s suggestion: open the lines of communication. By that I mean two-way communication, a dialogue, frequent conversations, easy and fluid movement of information in both directions. Communication must be a two-way street because by definition, it needs to include listening and speaking, ideally 50% of each.

So actively solicit input and listen to what your people have to say. Nobody knows what’s going on (and how to fix it) better than those who are doing it. Continue reading

How to keep your best people? Get to know them personally

In October, I started a short series on the blog on specific things that leaders can do to keep their best people from walking out the door. My posts on giving sincere praise often, buffering staff from bureaucracy, and paying people fairly were well received, so I thought it would be worthwhile adding to this list. So today, and for the next three posts, I am going to offer up four more ideas to prevent your top-notch employees from jumping ship and heading over to the competition. Today’s suggestion: get to know your people personally.

CoffeeMeetingNow I’m not proposing that you should become best friends with your staff, but I am suggesting that you should get to know them at more than just a superficial level. Who are your employees … really? What drives and motivates them, what makes them get up in the morning and excites them about coming to work? What are their goals and aspirations, what is the legacy they want to leave? Continue reading

Leadership training events in Edmonton in early December

CPABack in September, I announced the series of “open enrollment” full-day leadership training programs in Edmonton and Calgary that I am delivering in partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) from now until March 2016. Three of those events took place just over two weeks ago at the end of October in Edmonton … and they were fabulous (even if I do say so myself 🙂 ). Well, there are two more events coming up this year, and they’re both in Edmonton as well.

So … if you live in or near Edmonton AB, don’t miss this opportunity to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development at a very reasonable cost, and a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors. Remember … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register. If you work in a smaller organization that normally doesn’t have the budget to conduct onsite leadership training programs, then don’t miss this cost-effective opportunity to get what you need. Click on any program link for further information or to register directly at the CPA Alberta site. You will need to create a secure account on their system in order to register, a very quick and easy process.

And as always, let me know if you’re planning on joining me for any of these upcoming events. That way I know to look forward to seeing you there!

Don’t multitask, be present when it comes to employee interactions

Back in March 2013, I wrote a blog post titled Focus on the present in order to achieve big things in the future. In it I talked about how not to let current short-term challenges get in the way of future long-term goals. Today’s blog post takes a slightly different tack on the word “present” – specifically that it’s important to BE PRESENT in order to maximize productivity and team performance. Let me explain.

Female architect using tablet computer, looking awayYou’ve done it (we all have) – glanced at your email while talking to one of your employees. Or shuffled through papers on your desk while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with one of your staff. Stop. Not only is it not working, but you’re also doing more damage than good. You may think that you’re being productive by doing two things at the same time, but the truth is that you’re doing neither well. Not only that, and perhaps more importantly, you’re jeopardizing your relationship with your staff. You may not intend to do so, but your inattentiveness is disrespectful to the very people who ensure your department’s success. Instead, choose to be present. Continue reading

Relying on leadership instinct can sometimes get you into trouble

I’ve said in the past that If you’re not careful, past successes can prove to be decision making pitfalls. In much the same way, so can leadership instinct.

InstinctDo you operate on instinct? Sure you do. How many times have you sat in your car, driven home (or to work) but had absolutely no recollection of the actual specific journey? Yeah, I thought so! In much the same way, you probably rely on leadership instinct to help you manage a variety of situations in the workplace. And leadership instinct serves a very useful purpose; it allows us to learn routine behaviours which have identical or similar outcomes so that we don’t have to expend mental energy in situations where they don’t serve an optimal objective.

But as leaders, doing things by instinct will not always serve you well. There are three leadership circumstances in which relying on instinct can get you into trouble. Continue reading

Developing people requires adaptability in your leadership style

JimClemmerAs regular readers of the blog know, I am a huge fan of metaphors. My most well-known metaphor of course is the title of one of my most requested keynotes (and my first book) – Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? So it’s not a surprise that I am absolutely delighted that our guest blogger today is using a metaphor to illustrate one of the most important skills in leadership – adaptability when it comes to developing people. Jim Clemmer is the founder of the Clemmer Group, a firm that focuses on making people better for organizations and organizations better for people. He is also the author of seven international bestselling books and I’m proud to call him my professional colleague. His post today uses the metaphor of perennial gardening to offer an important lesson in leadership.

Leaders Grow People To Their Full Potential

I enjoy perennial gardening in our yard. As I have tended our gardens over the years, I am continually struck by how some plants will do well in some locations and terribly elsewhere in the garden. Each spring and fall I move plants around to match their preferences for particular soil, wind, and sun conditions, as well as their proximity to other plants. Continue reading

Employees quit their boss, not their job

Dear Boss, I Quit: Unhappy Employee MessageFor the past two weeks, I’ve been addressing the question – What does it take to stop your best people from walking out the door? But it’s raised the issue of why people choose to leave in the first place. When we talk about people leaving companies, the common phrase is that “employees quit their jobs.” But the reality is something quite different. Employees don’t quit jobs, they quit their bosses. The research unequivocally shows that the two (by far) most common reasons that employees walk away from their current jobs are either because they perceive unusually high levels of bureaucracy in their roles, or because their immediate supervisor sucks big time! Really – it’s not the money (or lack thereof) that causes people to leave, it’s the non-supportive or negative environment that has been created by their boss or manager! Now of course, you have to pay people fairly, I’m not suggesting that employees are going to continue to work for you if you don’t give them adequate wages, but in terms of what pushes people off the edge, it’s the lousy supervisor. If managers fail to create job satisfaction within their teams, then people feel unrecognized and unmotivated.

What that means is that if you’re in a supervisory or management role, the best thing you can do for yourself and your people is to invest in yourself to become a great leader. Continue reading