Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: June 2017

Strategy #3 for creating successful change in your organization

Two weeks ago, I started a video tip series on strategies that you can use to create successful change in your organization.  Last week’s advice was to be patient and persistent with your employees when implementing organizational change.  Today’s strategy to create successful change: be accessible to your employees.

Be accessible to your employees

Successful change means that your employees need to come on board, and they can only do that if they have their concerns addressed and questions answered.  Make yourself available to your staff at all times, but particularly during the early stages of your change initiative.

Do it in groups

One of the best ways to make yourself accessible is to hold frequent town hall or Q & A meetings.  Continue reading

When you’re overwhelmed at work, it’s worth considering another approach

“I can’t talk to you for very long, Merge, we’re buried!” said a client when I returned his call earlier this week.  “What’s going on?” I asked.  He went on to describe the turmoil and chaos in his department at the insurance company where he works.  “We’re overwhelmed at work.  Claim volume is up 200%, our phone lines are flooded, and our call agents feel like they’re drowning.  Plus I can’t get enough adjusters out into the field fast enough, and clients are getting frustrated so they’re calling in more than usual, increasing call wait times even more.  I feel like we’re in a dark tunnel with no end in sight.  Help me!”

Now obviously, this manager’s current state of affairs is driven partially by external circumstances (in this situation, recent weather-related catastrophic events are the root cause of the increased call volumes).  But I was reminded of a phrase often used by a mentor of mine many years ago, so I asked this manager to look at the situation with another filter.  My mentor frequently used to say “Just because it is dark doesn’t mean we’re buried.  Often, it means that no one has bothered to turn on any lights”.

It’s the leader’s job to turn on the lights

Fortunately, the phrase caught my client’s attention.  Enough for him Continue reading

Leading organizational change? Be patient and persistent

My previous strategy on leading successful organizational change was to involve employees early on in the change process.  Today’s tip is a continuation of that idea.  Be patient and persistent with your employees when implementing organizational change.

Be patient and persistent

When employees are faced with change that they perceive as negative, it is absolutely normal for them to go through a stages of denial and anger before they can get to acceptance of the change.  As a leader, it’s important to remember that it takes some people longer to move through denial and anger; in fact, some of your employees will cycle back and forth between denial and anger a few times before they get to acceptance.

The truth is that you simply cannot expect all your employees to jump on the change bandwagon at the same speed.  Continue reading

Dealing with adversity – wisdom from P!nk!

musicnotesThe song “Try” by P!nk popped up on my playlist as I was out walking in my neighbourhood the other day.  Now I’ve heard this song many times in the past, but for some reason (likely because I have recently been dealing with adversity in my personal life), I noticed the lyrics in the refrain more than I usually do.

“Try” by P!nk
Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame

Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned

But just because it burns, doesn't mean you're gonna die

You gotta get up and try, and try, and try

Gotta get up and try, and try, and try

You gotta get up and try, and try, and try

Now I know that this song is actually about romance, but it caught my attention because the words so appropriately so apply to our both our personal and professional lives as well.  If you replace the word “desire” with “adversity”, suddenly these lines take on a whole different meaning.  What was intended to be a song about finding love is now solid advice for dealing with adversity, for never giving up, both in the professional and personal arenas. Continue reading

Successfully leading organizational change

As a leader, you are an agent of organizational change.  It could be new processes or products, new software, or an organizational change in structure or focus simply to remain competitive and viable in your industry.  My point is that in today’s fast-paced world of work and commerce, the only thing constant about change is change itself.  And it’s your job to make organizational change happen.  The challenge of course is that you can’t do it by yourself – in order for change to be successful, your employees have to come on board because they are the ones who will have to implement it, maintain it, and ultimately ensure its success.  Or not!  Which is why I’m kicking off a new video tip series on strategies that leaders can use to successfully effect change.  The first tip: involve employees in the change process early on.

Involve employees early on in the change process

I know this sounds obvious, but I have to bring it up, because it’s often missed.

The critical thing you need to remember as a leader is that employees are not so much against organizational change as they are against being changed.  Continue reading

Leadership lessons from the American bald eagle

leadership lessons from the bald eagleI am continually amazed by the insightful leadership lessons that can be learned from the animal kingdom; in the past I’ve written about sea otters, goldfish, long-nosed bats, Canada geese, and penguins.  Recently, I had the opportunity to have a close-up interaction with an American bald eagle at a bird rescue sanctuary (I took this photo on the right), and not surprisingly, there were leadership lessons to be had here as well.  Here are two interesting parallels between bald eagles and exceptional leaders.

The ability to stay high AND come down low

Eagles tend to spend most of their time in elevated locations.  When they are hunting, they soar high in the sky.  When they are resting, they look for the loftiest spot they can find in trees, craggy rocks, or even rooftops.  They can stay at higher altitudes because they have excellent vision.  Continue reading

How to motivate younger employees

jeffmowattAs readers of this blog know, I have a keen interest in younger employees, commonly referred to as the Millennial generation, and their impact on the workplace.  In fact, my last book – Generations Exposed: Unexpected Insights Into the People You Work With – contrasts the differences between Millennials, Gen-X’ers, Boomers, and Traditionalists, and I frequently seek to get dialogues going on this topic of how to motivate younger employees.  Which is why I am delighted to have my professional colleague and friend, Jeff Mowatt, guest on the blog today writing about this very topic.  Not only has Jeff given us great insightful posts in the past (most recently, One more reason to create a customer-focused culture), but I am also privileged to be sharing the platform with him (and five other exceptional experts) at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary later this year on November 15.  By the way, this event is already tracking to be a sell-out, so if you live and/or work in Southern Alberta, register early.  More information about the Summit is at the end of Jeff’s post below.

How to Motivate Younger Employees

You’re a manager who has paid your dues. Over a lifetime you’ve learned how to honour your commitments, interact with others, and make a positive contribution on the job. To you it seems like common sense. That’s the problem. Those high performing habits that are second nature to you can be completely foreign to today’s younger employees. Here are three reasons managers are becoming increasingly frustrated with younger workers, and how you can motivate them to provide exceptional service for internal and external customers.

  1. Participation Medals

Continue reading

Long-distance leadership tip #8: don’t forget about career planning for remote employees

Back in mid-April, I started a series of video tips on long-distance leadership, giving you one each week.  Last week’s strategy was to remember to praise your staff regularly.  I am planning a new series of tips to start shortly, so this week’s tip will be the final one (at least for now) in this sequence. Today’s idea: don’t forget about career planning for your remote employees.

Career planning is just as important for remote employees as it is for those in the office

When you have staff that work from a distance, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking – “why mess with things if they’re going well?”  But just like the people who are down the hall from you, your off-site employees have goals and aspirations.  And exceptional long-distance leadership means that you have to help them make progress on their goals for growth and advancement.  Even it means that you’ll have to lose them to elsewhere in your organization. Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Accountants Make Great Leaders

170108_CA-smI have such exciting news to share today!  I am delighted and honored to announce that I will be one of the regular Opinion columnists for the brand-new website Canadian Accountant that was just launched this week.  Canadian Accountant is Canada’s independent news source for the accounting profession and will focus on informational, motivational and aspirational content relevant to accounting and finance professionals.  It is the brainchild of my long-time professional colleague Colin Ellis, who is also the award-winning writer turned entrepreneur, and the former editor of D&A Magazine published by CPA Ontario.

Valuable information even if you’re not an accountant!

Now I am well aware that the vast majority of you who read this blog are likely not accountants, but I don’t want you to assume that the word “accountant” means that this site shouldn’t be of interest to you.   Quite the contrary!  Sure, there will be lots of accountant-specific stuff (like tax and financial reporting!), but there will also be plenty of content that is relevant to anyone who just works in the world of business (and I mean profit as well as not-for-profit).  Over the next few months, expect to see stories on business, leadership and strategy, all of which I know you’ll find useful. Continue reading