Merge's Blog

Feeling underappreciated by the boss?

“It’s a good thing I am self-motivated,” said a good friend in a client organization.  “Because if I was looking for appreciation or validation from my boss, I’d be waiting an eternity.”  Sadly, this sentiment is not unique.  Employee survey research repeatedly shows that a significant segment of the workforce feels underappreciated at work.  Which is deeply ironic.  Because employee motivation research also unequivocally shows that employees who are appreciated for their contributions and recognized for their achievements are vastly more satisfied, engaged, motivated and productive than those who are not.

So what should you do?

So what should you do if you feel underappreciated by your immediate supervisor?  Learn to suck it up and live with it?  Well, no.  Just because the boss doesn’t appreciate you doesn’t mean there isn’t value in making sure that your worth is recognized beyond just your immediate department.  If your boss isn’t spreading the word about your good work, then it’s time to toot your own horn.  And yes, if done correctly, it won’t come across as arrogant or conceited or boastful. Continue reading

An unusual but effective approach to motivating employees

So today I’m back with strategy #15 in our video blog series this year – focusing on specific tips for motivating employees.  For the last two episodes, I’ve focused on using fun for motivating employees (see have dress-up and dress-down days and play games).  Fun is a great motivator and I’ll pick up on that theme again in a future instalment.  But today, I want to talk about another approach to motivating employees – give them face time with your customers.

Give your employees face time with customers

This strategy is particularly powerful with the administrative employees on your team, the people who don’t normally meet with the end-consumer of your product or service.  Usually, the face-to-face interactions with your customer happen with those who have sales or business development in their titles.  But of course, there is always a team of people back in the home office who support the sales function, some in a direct manner, but just as many in indirect ways. Continue reading

What does it take, really take, to create engaged employees?

When was the last time you washed a rental car? Probably never. And the reason is simple. Because you don’t own it.  This simple reality offers a compelling insight into what it takes, really takes, to create engaged employees.

Four things you can do with immediate impact

In my latest column for this morning’s The Globe and Mail, I lay out four specific things you can do as a leader to create a level of interest and ownership that would not only get your employees to wash the cars, but also check the oil, and rotate the tires.  Interestingly enough, none of the four are high-level strategic engagement initiatives developed by senior management at the annual planning retreat, or policies developed by a small army of bureaucrats in a backroom somewhere.

What it really takes for an employee to be engaged

engaged employees

I make the point in today’s column that engaged employees occur at an individual level, person by person, and as a direct result of the one-on-one relationship each of your staff has with their immediate and direct supervisor.   Which means that if you’re a manager, supervisor, team leader, or any other title that has direct responsibility for people, then your behaviour and actions will unequivocally determine how engaged each of your employees are.  This is a weighty responsibility, one that I believe no leader should ever take lightly.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2l3vEOc

But as always, I’d like to hear what you think.  What have been your experiences?  Do the four specific actions I list in this column resonate with you.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

 

A lesson from a 10-speed bicycle on how to achieve goals

I often explore what it takes to achieve goals, to get beyond the “hope” stage and actually create concrete results.  In fact, earlier this year, I blogged about the importance of a “structured” vessel when one seeks to achieve goals.  Today’s blog post explores another aspect of setting and achieving goals – this time the importance of action.

Multi-speed bikes are an asset

10-speed-bikeWhen I was a child, I rode a single speed bicycle.  It didn’t matter whether I was biking up a hill or racing down a gravel road, my bike had just one gear, and I had to adjust my effort and speed in order to compensate for the riding conditions.  As I grew older though, I realized that one could actually make the bicycle-riding experience easier and more enjoyable by getting a 3-speed, a 10-speed or even a 21-speed bike.  The greatest benefit of a multiple-speed bicycle was that I could adjust the pedaling resistance to ride more easily over a greater variety of terrains.  Brilliant!

Shortly after I got my first 10-speed bike, I quickly realized one additional and extremely vital fact – in order to switch gears, you had to be moving.  Continue reading

The secret fun factor for motivating employees – play games!

Today’s blog post continues our series of specific ideas for motivating employees.  In our last instalment, I told you about a fun approach – to have dress-up and dress-down days.  Well, today’s tip has a strong fun factor as well.  It is to play games.

Play games

Again, your imagination is the limit.  In some of my client organizations, they’ve conducted hallway bowling and hallway golf contests.  Some have even held office chair races.  By the way, it’s a good idea to use chairs with wheels for this one!  Another good one is to post staff baby or high school pictures and guess who they are.  And again, let your staff members organize these – planning is half the fun.  Your role should be to create an environment in which it’s okay to have fun in this way.

Another word about last time’s video tip

I want to take a moment to address some of the reactions to my last episode about dress-up and dress-down days.  Some of you raised concerns about this concept of “workplace fun”.  Continue reading

Building loyalty among your Millennial employees

Millennial employeesLast fall, as part of my regular column series for The Globe and Mail, I wrote a piece titled Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial?  This is a topic that is close to the hearts of many, so I was not surprised when it got a lot of reaction, both positive and negative.  About the same, time, the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) asked me if I would pen a similar article for their members, one that directly addressed the acute staffing shortages and challenges they face in their industry.  The average age of those in the construction industry in British Columbia (well actually almost everywhere else in Canada too) is rising, and the industry is struggling with how to attract young workers into their companies.  The article I wrote was recently published in Build Magazine, the association’s annual flagship publication.

Building loyalty among your Millennial employees: Why you need to change – not them

Take a few moments to peruse other articles in this excellent magazine

The above link takes you directly to a copy of the article.  But you can also access the entire magazine at VICA’s website here: https://www.vicabc.ca/resources/publications/.  My column is on page 38, but there are many other articles you may find of interest.

Well, as always, I would love to hear what you think?  As I’ve said before, most people have an opinion on this subject of Millennial employees, either positive or negative (not a lot of fence-sitters on this topic), and I’d love to hear yours.  Please share your perspectives below.

Motivating employees with dress-up and dress-down days!

In our last instalment on motivating employees, I told you about the value of facilitating lively and informative staff meetings.  So now here is today’s tip.  It’s a fun one: have dress-up and dress-down days.

Have dress-up and dress-down days

Let’s start with dress-up – these can be anything, limited only by your imagination, and of course, the constraints of what would be appropriate in your workplace.  Here are some real-life ideas from client organizations – celebrity look-alike day, crazy tourist day, throwback day, international day, wacky sock day, crazy hat day, ugly tie day, seventies day, favourite cartoon character day, I think you get the idea.  Different holidays make perfect dress-up themes – Valentine’s, St Patrick’s, and of course, how could I forget Halloween.  For even more crazy fun, have twin day – that’s when each person selects a co-worker and they come to work dressed in identical or almost identical outfits.  If you can, give out small low-value prizes to ramp up the fun factor. Continue reading

Again … here’s why the traditional performance review doesn’t work!

Earlier in January this year, the subject of one of my regular columns for The Globe & Mail was titled It’s time to get rid of the performance review.  In it, I made the case for why the “performance review”, long a staple in many organizations, was an archaic practice that no longer served any useful purpose.  So when a colleague and long-time reader of the blog forwarded me a link to this recent article in Harvard Business Review, not surprisingly, it caught my attention.

People Don’t Want to Be Compared with Others in Performance Reviews. They Want to Be Compared with Themselves

performance review

A quick summary of the article …

While you can read the entire article at the link above, here’s a Coles Notes version.  Essentially, in this paper, the authors compare two types of reference points in four studies on performance reviews containing data collected from 1,024 American and Dutch employees. Continue reading

Tip #12 for creating motivated employees

In my last video in this series on specific tips to create motivated employees, I outlined the importance and value of listening intently.  Today’s tip also relates to communication, but this time it’s about how you share information.  Strategy #12 is to facilitate lively and informative staff meetings.

Facilitate lively and informative staff meetings

Most employees greatly appreciate being kept in the information loop.  They want to know what is going on, whether it’s the company as a whole, your department, or perhaps most importantly, how decisions and changes affect them.  When employees feel like they’re informed, they’re engaged.  And engaged employees are motivated employees.  One of the easiest, most efficient ways to keep employees in the information loop is to facilitate regular staff meetings.  But beware!  These meetings need to be lively and informative.

You likely have attended the meeting from hell – you know the one – where objectives are undefined, the meeting crawls on for hours, personalities clash, disagreements take over, and progress grinds to a halt. In short, nothing gets accomplished.  Continue reading

When leaders make mistakes …

#$&*&@# happens!  Well-laid plans don’t always turn out exactly the way you’d anticipated.  A sale that was one signature away from being finalized falls apart at the last minute.  One missed detail takes a project down the wrong path and it then costs a significant amount to bring it back on track.  The leadership journey is fraught with unexpected challenges and unknown landmines, and sometimes even the smallest misstep by a leader can result in financial and reputational loss.  The reality is that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen.

It’s how you respond to the mistakes that will matter

Some mistakes will be small, ones that you can simply shrug off as minor bumps in the road.  But others will be large, ones that affect major company objectives, directly impact profitability, or put important relationships in jeopardy.  It’s how you respond to these large slip-ups that will determine whether you’re a leader or a manager.  In my column in today’s The Globe and Mail, I lay out the three essential actions that separate the leaders from the managers, the three steps you have to take in order to successfully move past these blunders.

Why good leaders make grave mistakes – and still thrive

When good leaders make grave mistakes

All decisions carry risk and therefore come with potential obstacles that can sometimes derail progress. But when bad stuff happens, what do you think separates the leaders from the managers?  I’ve given you the three necessary actions from my perspective, but I’d love to hear about your experiences and points of view.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.