Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2016

The piss-off factor: yet another short-sighted stupid action by a well-meaning manager

The Piss-Off Factor (or POF)piss-off factor is something that short-sighted managers do to destroy employee morale, and they come up repeatedly on the blog, usually because they happen more often than they should!  Well, I was just made aware the other day of yet another piss-off event; this time about parking!

Seriously?!  This is what is known as a piss-off factor

This company’s offices, even though in a large city, are not in the downtown core.  This particular employee was required to go downtown for a work-related task, so he drove his vehicle there, parked, and later claimed the cost of parking on his expense statement.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Apparently not.  His expense claim was denied.  Reason: the company policy states that employees can claim lodging, meals and incidental costs, including parking for a vehicle, ONLY when they travel out of town.  Because he was parking his vehicle in the same city, the expense claim was denied!  If you think this doesn’t make sense, there’s more.  Continue reading

So what is fairness anyway?

fairness - equivalent, not equalHow employees perceive fairness in the workplace is very important (as this funny video about an experiment with capuchin monkeys demonstrates), but in my conversations with leaders, I make it a point to separate equality from equivalency.  This may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but let me explain.

Fairness cannot be equal

Fairness should not (and cannot) be equal, it must be equivalent.  In other words, good leaders don’t treat all their employees exactly the same, rather they adapt their approaches to be more effective for different employees. Sure, that can translate into differences in how policies are interpreted and how rules are enforced, which may cause complaining, particularly from those employees who may feel like they are getting the raw end of the bargain.

Focus on doing the right thing … for the company AND the employee

Chances are that the employee who complains is likely the one who would complain about unfairness no matter what action or approach you took.  Continue reading

Deliberately make yourself available to your staff

make yourself availableI’ve blogged previously about the importance of being present in your conversations with your employees, but today I want to come at this same subject from a more macro-perspective.  Today’s message: be seen, show your face, in other words, make yourself available to your employees.

In an earlier blog post about being present, I was talking about giving employees your full attention when you’re talking to them one-on-one (rather than trying to multitask).  But “being seen” is about being a visible presence in their working day; it’s about making yourself available to your staff.  Showing your face is NOT about ensuring that your team members see you at the coffee station so that they know you came to work; it’s about giving them access you as a resource when they need it.  Don’t be the type of leader who holes up in your office with the door closed, or the butterfly that flits rapidly from meeting to meeting with only a passing shadow to show that you were there.  Employees need open access to their leaders, even if it’s brief.

Keep “office hours”

The best way to accomplish this goal is to have “office hours” – time that you deliberately schedule and set aside so that you make yourself available to your employees to answer questions, discuss issues, and provide guidance.  Continue reading

Change management is akin to journeying on a bus

transport, tourism, road trip and people concept - group of happy passengers boarding travel bus

For any kind of organizational change – procedural, structural, or technological – to be successful, three key players must be involved: the champion, the change manager, and the employees and/or stakeholders who have to accept and implement the change.  This fundamental premise of change management is fittingly illustrated using the metaphor of a bus.

Three key players

Think about a change initiative as a journey carrying many people from the status quo to the new normal.  For travel from one point to another to occur, first you need the vehicle, in this case the bus.  Which means that you need an investor to finance the purchase of the bus, paint it in team colours, and provide ongoing funding to keep it roadworthy.  This investor is the champion.

Then you need a driver to navigate the bus, plot a route from the beginning to the end of its journey, making stops (and detours if necessary) along the way.  This is the change manager.

And of course you need your passengers to willingly come on board to make the journey.  True, some may have to be dragged on kicking and screaming, but the majority need to come on voluntarily, and preferably enthusiastically.  These passengers are the employees charged with implementing the change, and other stakeholders who face the outcomes of the change. Continue reading

Last chance for open-enrollment leadership training events in Edmonton

CPAEarlier this fall, we announced an exciting partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) to deliver a series of “open enrollment” full-day leadership training programs in Edmonton and Calgary. Well, the last two events for Edmonton are coming up at the end of the month! 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 (which includes continental breakfast and lunch!), and a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors.

Last chance if you live in the Edmonton area!

We don’t have any more events in this series scheduled for Edmonton, so if you want in, the time is now!

Open-enrollment means “open to the public”

Because these are open-enrollment courses, you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register.   Which is a great advantage if you happen to work in a smaller organization that doesn’t normally have the budget to bring in onsite leadership training programs.   Do not miss out on this cost-effective opportunity to get the leadership skill development you need! Click on any program link above 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 please, 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!

6 Rules for thriving in an open-office environment

My newest column for The Globe & Mail is up in cyberspace this morning!  Today’s topic is about something that is happening in many workplaces across the country – the shift to an open-office environment.  Love it or hate it, the numbers show that it’s happening more than ever.  So in Six rules for the open-office environment, I don’t debate its merits and drawbacks.  Instead, by offering six definitive rules to survive, and thrive, in an open office environment, I focus on how to make this kind of a workplace environment effective and productive.

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So … as always, very interested in hearing about your experiences.  Are you working in an open-office floor plan?  Does it work for you?  Why or why not?  If possible, please share your perspectives directly on the The Globe‘s site since your point of view will get a much wider audience than if you choose another alternative.  But I’m always open to hearing from you directly as well, so you can post your comments here on the blog, or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks) with your thoughts too.

And one last thing — do me a HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe‘s site using the share icon at the very top of the article).  My objective is always to get conversations started, so the more people who respond to this column means deeper and extended dialogue, which is always a good thing!  In advance, please accept my thanks for your help.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere: http://tgam.ca/EQQZ

One more reason to create a customer-focused culture

jeffmowattWhen it comes to customer service expertise and creating customer-focused cultures, my professional colleague and friend Jeff Mowatt didn’t just read the book – he wrote it!  He’s the author of the best-selling business books, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month and Influence with Ease.  In a recent conversation, I realized that while Jeff has guested on the blog previously, the last time was in December 2010 when he penned Use your intuition to make better strategic decisions.  Needless to say, it’s been wa-a-a-ay too long, so I was delighted when he agreed to write a guest post again today.  Jeff, let’s not wait this long the next time!

How do I get my staff to get along?

“I can accept it when one of my employees makes a mistake. What I don’t have patience for is when my employees don’t play well with one another.” This was a client, a business owner with 45 employees, who explained, “When there’s a problem with a customer, employees focus more on blaming other departments and covering their own backsides than stepping-up to help each other to resolve the problem. We need a stronger commitment to teamwork.” Continue reading