Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Overworking your employees? You’re the boss from hell!

welcome to hell evil sinner go to the devil disaster

Earlier this week I started a series about the characteristics of the boss from hell, prompted by my recent re-watch of the movie The Devil Wears Prada.  My last post was about how devil bosses don’t see their employees as real people (with hopes, preferences and dreams), but rather as pawns to be moved around on a giant chessboard to achieve some greater objective.  Here’s another trait of the boss from hell – they overwork their employees.  The boss from hell doesn’t understand that overworking his/her people is completely counterproductive, as nothing burns employees out more than overloading them.  In the movie, not only did Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) overburden Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) with more work than any normal person could be expected to handle in a single day, but she also expected her to be at her beck and call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Unlike in the movie, overworking of employees can often happen unintentionally; after all, if you’re in a position of leadership, the tendency is to get the most you can out of your best people.  But the irony is Continue reading

What makes the “boss from hell”?

Business man looking at his own devil demon shadow concept backgLast weekend I watched (again) the 2006 blockbuster movie The Devil Wears Prada.  If you’re not familiar with the film, this comedy drama stars Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, a powerful fashion magazine editor, and Anne Hathaway as Andrea Sachs, a college graduate who goes to New York City and lands the horrible job as Priestly’s co-assistant.  The “devil” in this movie is Miranda Priestly, quite possibly the ultimate “boss from hell”.  Watching the movie again was great entertainment, but it also got me thinking about what constitutes the “boss from hell”.  What characteristics or behaviours make devil bosses as horrid and dreadful as they are?  So I thought: why not start an intermittent series of blog posts on what makes up the “boss from hell”?  Here is my first one – they don’t see their employees as people.

The devil boss doesn’t see employees as people, just pawns on a giant chessboard, moved around at whim, to meet his or her personal objectives.  Continue reading

Upcoming “public” leadership training events in Edmonton and Calgary

CPAI am often asked by individual leaders about whether I offer “public” leadership training programs, ones that are open to anyone from any organization.  Unfortunately, most of my leadership training programs are for specific client organizations, which means that only their employees can attend.  But last fall, I was delighted to announce our partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) in which I delivered a series of “public” programs over a period of six months.  Well, I am VERY excited once again to declare that “It’s ba-a-a-ack!

Over the next six months, I am delivering eight full-day leadership and workplace communication programs in Edmonton and Calgary. These programs are available to anyone from any organization … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register. If you work in a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget to conduct an onsite leadership training program, this is your chance to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development! These one-day sessions are very reasonably priced at a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors, and if you register early, you can get even more savings.  Add in a continental breakfast and lunch, and of course, the fact that I’m facilitating them … how could life get any better?  🙂

Here is the list of the programs from now until the end of March 2017. Continue reading

Self-awareness: yet another inadvertent action that can jeopardize your credibility

Portrait Of A Bored Young Businesswoman At WorkLast week I blogged about self-awareness, and shared one example (glancing at the clock while talking to someone) of how your inadvertent actions can send a wrong message.  I had promised to give you one more and here it is – slouching.  Slouching is a sign of disrespect.  It doesn’t matter if your intentions are the polar opposite; the message it communicates (right or wrong) is that you’re bored and have no desire to be there.  When you slouch, your body tells the world that you’re apathetic and couldn’t care less.  And if that’s not what you really meant, your lack of self-awareness has just jeopardized your working relationship with your employee, your co-worker, or even worse, your boss. Continue reading

Self-awareness: realizing that your inadvertent actions can send a wrong message

Office worker looking at a wall clockSelf-confidence is a critical component of emotional intelligence, and leaders need to always have the self-awareness to walk a fine line between confidence and arrogance.  But there are many other aspects to self-awareness as well, and a very important one is being alert to how your unintentional actions or behaviour can communicate a message you never intended.

Here’s one – have you ever glanced at your watch or at the clock during a conversation with someone else?  Chances are you meant no harm, you were just checking to make sure that you weren’t late for another meeting, or perhaps you just wanted to know how long before lunch.  But the inadvertent message you are sending, loud and clear, is that you have better things to do than talk to the person you are with, and that you are anxious to leave and get on with something else.  Continue reading

Leaders, how do you minimize distractions?

CyclingThe topic of how to minimize distractions to maximize productivity came up again this past weekend.  My husband, an avid cyclist, rides his bicycle to work daily (at least while the weather is still cooperating).  Recently, he moved offices, and so his daily cycling route has changed.  Even though almost his entire journey is on bicycle trails, the path itself is quite serpentine, twisting and winding its way through tree groves and up and down many small hills.  In a passing comment to me this last weekend, he said “I find that I can’t really enjoy the view on my bike rides anymore because I need to concentrate and pay attention to the path.  A couple of times I’ve been distracted by birds or squirrels in my peripheral vision, and I found myself almost veering off the trail and into the brush.  This is not a straightforward pathway, so I have to really stay focused on what is ahead of me, otherwise I run the risk of getting into trouble.”

His comment about getting distracted by birds and squirrels got me thinking about how often we lose focus at work by the well-known (and notorious) “squirrel”. Continue reading

Sleep-deprived leaders aren’t very inspiring!

sleep-at-the-deskThis blog is all about what it takes to be an inspirational leader, and sometimes I even blog about how to inspire a certain category of employee (see my Globe & Mail article titled How to inspire the close-to-retirement employee).  Today though, my guest blogger and good friend Dr. David Merrell has a completely different view on the subject of what it takes to be a leader who inspires others – apparently one who gets enough sleep!  Turns out that the research shows that sleep-deprived leaders aren’t very inspiring!  Dr. Merrell is founder of the Merrell Clinic that, among other things, focuses on common sleep disorders, and I am delighted that he is joining us on blog today to talk about something that should (but usually isn’t) discussed a whole lot more!

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Need an extra coffee to stay focused and non-combative in the meeting room?  Retail coffee outlets are struggling for market share and very grateful for your additional latte purchases.  Unfortunately, a caffeine boost is a temporary improvement for a growing and often chronic situation for leaders – Sleep DeprivationChristopher Barnes, at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, showed Sleep-Deprived Leaders Are Less Inspiring.  They tend to be less charismatic because they are less effective at regulating their displays of positive emotion.  Barnes group also looked at team members who were sleep deprived and showed they were more difficult to inspire.  They demonstrated that insufficient sleep makes for grumpier managers and team workers. Continue reading

Determining what information you’re missing will improve your decision-making

MissingToday I want to finish up the short series on decision-making that I’ve been writing about over the past two weeks.  In previous blog posts, I’ve offered up proven techniques (most recently the impact of your decision one year from now), and this final tool I want to share with you today has also proven to be repeatedly successful.  The tip: determine the most important information you are missing.

When it comes to decision-making, it’s very easy to focus on what you know.  And in today’s data-driven world, it’s amazingly simple to get distracted by the deluge of information that’s often at your fingertips.  There is usually no shortage of reports that can provide all kinds of facts, figures, numbers and statistics.  Surrounded by so much information, one can easily ignore what is not there.  Continue reading

One thoughtful action to improve the quality of your decision-making

FutureFor the past week, I’ve been blogging about specific techniques you can use as a leader to improve the quality of your decision-making (three or more alternatives, brainstorming with 2-6 others), and today I’m continuing this short series with a third tool – take a few minutes to write down the impact your decision will have one year into the future.

Now don’t just think about this, put it in writing.  The act of writing is very powerful because it will force you to articulate the anticipated result of the decision, and it’s what happens next that will give you the enormous value.  Continue reading