Merge's Blog

Announcing another season of “public” leadership training events in Edmonton and Calgary

CPAFor the third year in a row, I am very excited to announce our partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta), delivering high-quality cost-effective leadership skills training in a series of “public” programs.  Most of my leadership training programs are for specific client organizations, which means that only their employees can attend.  However, these “public” leadership training programs are open to ANYONE from ANY organization.  Which means that 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!

Anyone from any organization can attend these sessions!

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. 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 the fact that you get to hang out with me for the day … how could life get any better?  🙂

Here are the dates!

Here is the list of the programs from now until the end of March 2018. Continue reading

When things are out of control, are they really?

controlSome things are entirely and wholly out of my control.  Severe weather, for example.  I cannot effect change in the weather.  Whether it’s a sweltering heatwave, a blinding snowstorm, or a stormy hurricane, I can’t make the weather calamity go away, no matter how hard I try.

But, on the other hand, there are plenty of things I can do to control how I react and respond to harsh weather.  I can seek out a cooler environment (inside an air-conditioned shopping mall for example), delay my road-trip to future date to avoid wintry driving conditions, or gather essential documents and supplies as I evacuate to safer ground.  Instead of complaining about the effects of severe weather, I can choose to take thoughtful actions to avoid, or at least, mitigate the damage.

Just because we can’t control the situation doesn’t mean we can’t influence the outcome

There are a myriad of events in our lives that are outside our sphere of control.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t influence the final outcome.  Continue reading

Change management strategy #12: build momentum by focusing on early adopters

Continuing in our ongoing series on the tips and strategies that leaders can use to achieve successful change management, here is change management strategy #12: use your early adopters to build momentum.

Use your early adopters to build momentum

As a leader you know that every change initiative has some employees who come on board faster than others.  These are the people who may have expressed some denial or anger at the beginning, but are now not only accepting of the change, but actively involved in making it happen.  I call these employees “early adopters”, and you can take advantage of their energy in a positive way!  Give your change management process a power energy shot by using these employees to build momentum.  Instead of doing all the hard work yourself, let these team members multiply and extend the excitement. Continue reading

Are limited resources really a problem? Or an opportunity?

Limited resources – people, money, equipment, and time – seem to be a reality in today’s workplaces.  This is usually perceived as a bad situation with negative outcomes.  We have come to expect that limited resources will be accompanied by poor service, fewer options, and lesser quality.  But what if limited resources were actually an opportunity in disguise?

limited resources

There have been higher-than-normal temperatures in Western Canada over the last few weeks and a result, the water levels are falling in some of the ponds and smaller lakes in our part of the world.  I got a first-hand look when I went on a day-hike this past weekend.  I was at this same pond at this time last fall, and the water levels a year ago were significantly higher than they were last weekend.  So much so that, what struck me immediately was the contrast between then and now.

The surface of this one specific pool when I was there last September was smooth like glass.  This time though, the water had dropped to a level where I could now see the garbage, trash and other debris at the bottom of the pond.  Continue reading

Leaders need to exude a positive confident energy

jeffmowatt_2Earlier this past summer, my professional colleague, friend, and widely-respected customer service strategist Jeff Mowatt wrote a guest post titled How to motivate younger employees.  His contribution was received with such interest that I asked him if he would guest again, and I was delighted when he agreed.  His column today is about the importance of the positive, confident energy that leaders should create and model in their organizations, and it follows below.

P.S. I am excited that Jeff and I will be sharing the platform later this fall at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary.  We’ll both be delivering mainstage keynotes at this November 15 event, and if you are thinking about attending, you need to act now because this event is already tracking to be a sellout.  Early bird pricing is still in effect so get your tickets while you can.  More information about the Summit is at the end of Jeff’s post below.

How would Others Describe Your Energy?

Having worked with literally hundreds of managers and business owners who’ve brought me in to provide customer service training for their teams, I’ve discovered that when it comes to a leader’s vibe, there is a magic mix. To inspire others, a leader needs to be positive and optimistic while also being realistic. And your energy needs to be higher than average without being frenzied. In other words, the most effective leaders are those who exude quiet, confident energy. Easier said than done. Here are 3 tips for setting the kind of tone that positively engages teams. Continue reading

Boosting employee self-esteem is necessary for effective change management

Since I began this video series back in June, I have been emphasizing that successful change involves building up employees who may be anxious or concerned about what the changes will bring, and I’ve given you several ideas already on how to manage this.  Last week I gave you change management strategy #10 – Let people vent.  Here’s another tip to help you build your people up when they might be feeling down: emphasize individual strengths.

Emphasize individual strengths

Boost your employees by highlighting what each of them are good at.  Remember, change creates anxiety.  You staff are wondering about things like – will I have to learn new stuff, will this affect my workload, will I now report to someone else, will I still have a job? – and all of these cause apprehension and worry.  So take the time to boost their self-esteem, to make them feel good about what they’re doing on the job. Continue reading

Are you inadvertently sabotaging yourself?

sabotaging yourselfAre you inadvertently sabotaging yourself?  A few weeks ago, I asked a different question: Would you run a marathon blindfolded?  It was in reference to how managers in organizations sometimes (usually inadvertently) set their employees up to fail by not giving them the tools and resources they need in order to get the job done!  This post prompted an email from a reader who shared the following:

[This post] reminded me of what one of my bosses used to always say when he saw people doing things in an unnecessarily difficult way.....You can climb Mount Everest in a pair of Oxfords, but it's difficult!

(By the way, Oxfords are formal lace-up shoes, usually worn by men as a necessary component of formal business attire.)

You can climb Mount Everest in a pair of Oxfords, but it’s difficult!

Which got me thinking further.  My original post was about how managers were the ones at fault … asking their people to complete tasks or fulfill responsibilities but neglecting to give them the tools and information they needed to make it happen.  But what if the guilty party isn’t your manager?  What if it’s you?  Do we sometimes, without realizing it, sabotage ourselves by wearing the metaphoric Oxfords when we should be wearing hiking boots?  Continue reading

Successful change in organizations doesn’t just happen. Here is strategy #10

In my continuing video series on leading successful change in organizations (which started back in June), here is strategy #10.  Today’s tip is: Let people vent.

Let people vent

You may recall that back in Strategy #2, I outlined how it is completely normal for employees, when faced with change that is perceived as negative, to go through stages of denial and anger BEFORE they can get to acceptance of the change itself.  Venting is a key component of both denial and anger.  It is an opportunity for the person to let off steam, to get their frustrations out and off their chest, by saying everything that’s on their mind.

And by the way, when you let someone vent, it does not mean that your role is now to jump in and give advice, nor does it mean that you should sit there silently.  Neither of these two options are likely to get your employee past denial and anger.  Continue reading

Here’s what Google discovered about team effectiveness

Business SeminarIn my practice, I am routinely asked by leaders in organizations for the definitive factors that lead to team effectiveness.  After all, leaders in every organization want to know what it takes to create high-performing work groups that not only exceed objectives but also play well in the sandbox together.  Well Google wanted to know the answer to this question as well, so in 2012 it embarked on an ambitious two-year project to codify the secrets of team effectiveness.  Code-named Project Aristotle, this sizeable initiative, in true data-crunching Google style, set out to study and analyze over 180 of Google’s internal teams to figure out why some stumbled while others soared.

Google’s Project Aristotle

Julia Rozovsky is an analyst in Google People Operations, and here is what she had to say about Project Aristotle.

Over two years we conducted 200+ interviews with Googlers (our employees) and looked at more than 250 attributes of 180+ active Google teams. We were pretty confident that we'd find the perfect mix of individual traits and skills necessary for a stellar team -- take one Rhodes Scholar, two extroverts, one engineer who rocks at AngularJS, and a PhD. Voila. Dream team assembled, right?  We were dead wrong!

Continue reading

Leading change strategy #9: Be transparent

My last two tips on leading change in organizations focused on communication (tell people why and feed the grapevine).  In today’s video in this series, I am switching focus slightly.

Be transparent

Transparency is key when leading change.  Be open and honest about difficulties, challenges and concerns with the “new order”.  Every change initiative comes with its own set of problems, many of which are expected or can be anticipated.  Don’t sugar-coat or attempt to hide them.  Be transparent about the potential challenges that may be experienced as a result of the changes.  Your focus instead should be on looking jointly for solutions to address them.  Do not try to minimize the challenges, or even worse, pretend they do not exist. You’re fooling no one, and all that you’re doing is jeopardizing your credibility.

In fact, by stating the challenges and concerns before your employees do, you are accomplishing three major benefits. Continue reading