Merge's Blog

A decision-making insight from eating peanuts!

peanutsIf you’re a leader, then you’re responsible for decision-making.  Which is why it we have a whole section on Problem Solving tools on the blog.  Today’s insight comes from peanuts in the shell – a concession staple at just about any baseball game!

So think about the last time you purchased a bag of these tasty treats.  As you shelled the peanuts, did you put the empty shells back in the same bag?  Chances are you didn’t, likely for a couple of reasons.  One, because it instinctively doesn’t make sense to put the waste in with the good peanuts, and two (and perhaps more importantly), every time you put the unwanted shells back in the bag, you reduce your chances of getting a good peanut the next time you reach in.

How does this apply to decision-making in the workplace?

There is a workplace equivalent to this scenario, having to do with decision-making.  As a leader, you are charged with making a variety of decisions, often requiring you to select the best choice from a number of possible options.  Using this metaphor, it makes sense to discard choices as you evaluate them as unsuitable.  Why put them back in the bag where they’ll just continue to muddle and reduce the efficacy of your decision-making?  But that’s exactly what we often do.  Continue reading

Build employee commitment by celebrating – our last tip in our 2018 series on motivating employees

All year, I’ve been giving you video tips on explicit actions leaders can take to motivate their people and build employee commitment for the long haul.  Last week, I went back to basics with “Provide a workplace that is free from bullying and harassment”.  Today, #33, happens to be our final strategy in this continuing series, so it seems only appropriate that it should be about a celebration.  Specifically, today’s motivating tip is to plan periodic office parties.  Let me explain further.

Plan periodic office parties

Your goal should be to maximize attendance for motivation value, so consider holding your office party during office hours, ideally over the lunch hour.  Plan to have them once a quarter, or even monthly.  Encourage employees to get involved in the planning; in fact, go as far as appointing each of your employees to one of the quarterly or monthly “planning committees” so that over the year each of your people are involved in one event.  Continue reading

Absolutely fundamental to gaining employee commitment: a workplace that is free of bullying and harassment

So far, in our ongoing series on specific actions leaders can take to gain employee commitment, I’ve shared a variety of ideas that range from basic to the unexpected.  Today’s strategy however falls under “absolutely fundamental”.  It is to provide a workplace that is free from bullying and harassment.  Not fancy or exotic, but unequivocally essential.  And when you do it right, the result is solid employee commitment!

Provide a workplace that is free from bullying and harassment

All employees have the right to be in a safe workplace that is free from violence, harassment and bullying.  Not only is it the right thing to do from an ethical perspective, but it is also required by law.  And it’s your job as a leader to make it so. Continue reading

Five strategies for employee retention

Employee retention is an issue that should be top of mind for leaders everywhere.  Sure, depending on your industry or market sector, employee turnover may be a fact of life, but have you ever noticed that when employees leave, it’s never the lousy ones that jump ship?  The unfortunate reality is that the ones who are most likely to leave are the ones that are in greatest demand elsewhere.  And of course, those are usually your best and your brightest, the ones that you really want to keep!

What are you doing?

So what are you doing for employee retention?  What actions are you taking to ensure that your top employees want to stay in your organization? What are you doing to engage them so that your company is their employer of choice?  If the answer is “nothing”, then you’re putting yourself at a serious competitive advantage.  Because you can bet that those who are departing are going right over to organizations who have taken concrete steps to entice and engage them.  In my latest column for The Globe and Mail, published this morning, I lay out five proven ideas to stop your finest from fleeing to what they see as greener pastures.

Five strategies to help ensure top performers don’t jump ship

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find this article on page B13.

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/2DYzp2F

So I’m well aware that this subject usually seems to get people riled up, primarily because of my assertion that the answer to employee retention and engagement is not “money”.  But, as always, even if you don’t agree with me, I’m interested in your perspective and your experiences.  So please share by adding your comments below.

Secure employee commitment by letting them annually attend a training event of their choice

In our last video episode in our ongoing series focusing on specific motivating actions leaders can take to secure employee commitment, I suggested that you let your employees telecommute, even occasionally.  Today’s idea: offer each of your employees the opportunity to annually attend at least one training program or learning conference of their choice.

Let your people attend at least one training event (of their choice) annually

When you invest financial resources into your employees, what you’re really telling them is that you value them and want to set them up for success.  No wonder then that this seemingly simple action invariably results in increased employee commitment.  And when you let your employees choose which training or conference to attend, the motivating value goes up significantly.

Concerned about abuse? It can be managed

Now I’ve heard the objections to this … what if the employee selects training that is not ideal for their job?  Or what if the employee chooses a conference that is at some exotic location that costs an arm and a leg in travel expenses?  Continue reading

Leadership training programs in Alberta – get your 2018 professional development points before you run out of time!

CPAFor the fourth year in a row, I am so pleased to be partnering with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) to deliver high-quality cost-effective leadership training in a series of ten “public” programs until March 2019.  The first two sessions happened in October, but I now have three more events coming up in December in Edmonton and Calgary.  If you belong to a professional association that requires you to complete a specified number of professional development credits annually, then these one-day programs will most definitely qualify (and may be one of your last chances to get your 2018 requirement met).

You don’t have to be a member of CPA Alberta to attend

Even if you aren’t a member of the CPA Alberta, these are “public” programs which means that they are open 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 a light lunch, and the fact that we get to spend the day together … how could life get any better?

Here are the dates!

Edmonton:

Calgary:

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; it’s a quick and easy process.

Let me know if you register for any of these events. That way I know to watch for you there!

Separating true leaders from narcissists

NarcissistLast year, I was a featured expert in a story about narcissists in the workplace, and how one can function effectively with (or despite) them, no matter whether they are your co-workers or your boss.  And certainly, if you follow American politics, there is a lot of conversation about whether a certain head of state is a prime example of a narcissist.  So it isn’t surprising that this topic continues to be front and centre in the news.  One question that often comes up in my leadership development practice is about how to separate leaders from narcissists, particularly during hiring, as the outcome of hiring one over the other can be enormous.  Ironically of course, on the surface, narcissists look suspiciously like leaders; it isn’t until later that the truth comes out.

Last week, CNN Business News put out an article titled How narcissistic CEOs put companies at risk, explaining how narcissist leaders create long-lasting negative consequences for their companies.  From a leadership perspective, a couple of points in particular caught my attention.   Continue reading

When you let them telecommute, you create engaged employees

All year, I’ve been offering ideas in our ongoing series on specific things leaders can do to create highly motivated and engaged employees.  Earlier this month, I talked about giving your employees positive opportunities to interact with your senior management.  Today’s tip (which also happens to be #30 in this series): let your employees telecommute.

Let your employees telecommute

Let them work from home; not necessarily every day, but how about a few days a week, or even once a week?  Heck, even once a month is hugely motivating.  Even occasional telecommuting leads to highly engaged employees … because they view it as freedom – the independence to be productive, stay motivated and save time. Now I am well aware that there are certain jobs that don’t lend themselves to telecommuting – I mean can you imagine being a retail store clerk or a grocery store cashier from afar?  But … the vast majority of jobs have at least some responsibilities that can be done from a distance.  And in some cases, these tasks can be completed much more efficiently if they’re away from the daily distractions of the workplace.

With today’s technology, working from home is no longer as impossible as it might have once been.  Continue reading

Leadership lessons from ants!

As regular readers of the blog know, I am continually inspired by the lessons in leadership that come to us from the animal kingdom.  In the past, I’ve written about bald eagles, sea otters, goldfish, and penguins, among many others.  Today’s leadership lessons come to us from ants!

Ants don’t admit defeat

Have you ever watched an ant carry what appears to be a gargantuan load?  Science indicates that ants can actually carry ten to fifteen times their body weight.  And they do – repeatedly – in order to provide for themselves and their nestmates.  Which got me thinking … if ants aren’t daunted by the sheer magnitude of what they sometimes have to carry, is there a lesson there for us as leaders?

In the workplace, we are often faced with what seem to be insurmountable obstacles in our leadership roles – looming deadlines, challenging employees, missed opportunities, apparently unattainable targets – which could, if we let them, cause us to give up and admit defeat.  Continue reading

Maximize introvert power by tapping into their strengths

Extroversion versus introversion.  Despite numerous studies and anecdotal situations that show otherwise, people still continue to assume that somehow extroverts are more successful in the workplace than introverts.  As I have blogged about in the past, that is simply not true.  Introvert power comes from tapping into what makes introverts different from extroverts, and not by taking on more extrovert traits.  In fact, in the past I have blogged about how introverts lead, and how introverts network.

Which is why I was delighted when my professional colleague Dave Byrnes agreed to guest on the blog today.  Dave is known as The Introverted Networker, and not surprisingly, he helps introverts use sales and networking to succeed in their business and careers.  Today he writes about how leaders (extroverts or introverts) can help their introverted employees maximize their introvert power and productivity.

Convert Your Introverts for Greater Productivity

There has been a lot of press about the power of introverts and their differences from extroverts in recent times. While better understanding is great as a leader, you may be asking yourself how this affects the bottom line.

How can you turn these insights into increased productivity from your introverts and improve job satisfaction so they stick around longer? Continue reading