Merge's Blog

To motivate employees, cut out the red tape

Last month, I started a brand-new video series offering specific ideas on how leaders can motivate employees.  The first tip in this series was to be flexible.  You all told me that this was a subject that you would find immensely helpful.  So here is today’s strategy to motivate employees: cut out the red tape.

Eliminate red tape

Red tape is excessive bureaucracy or over-the-top adherence to rules and formalities.  Research shows, over and over again, that one of the biggest de-motivators for employees is perceived bureaucracy.  So anything that you can do to reduce or remove red tape will be a huge motivator to most of your staff.  Now I know that some of you watching this video come from organizations that are so large that they have policy manuals that probably cover just about every situation you could possibly think of.  And so … you might think there is no way you can reduce red tape.  Don’t underestimate what you can do!

Buffer your people from bureaucracy

True, you might not be able to get rid of the bureaucracy, but you CAN buffer your employees from it.  Continue reading

Performance measurement – are you tracking the right metrics?

I have long been an advocate for performance measurement … as a way to motivate people (including myself) to get things done.  In fact, one of my leadership mantras is “What gets measured and publicized gets acted on!”  But if you’re going to make performance measurement work in a way that will create positive intended outcomes, then you have to make sure that you’re using the right benchmark.

It is better to have no timepiece than one that is wrong

performance measurementAn old mentor used to say to me: The worst kind of timepiece is the one that is wrong.  Think about it … if you don’t have a watch, then you are well aware that you don’t know the time.  So you know that you don’t know – conscious incompetence – and that is valuable information.  And then, if you really want to know what time it is, you’re going to find someone who has a watch, and ask.

But if you have a clock that is erratically fast or aimlessly slow (and you don’t realize that the problem exists), your natural inclination will be to accept the time you see at face value and assume that it is correct.  Which will, sooner or later, lead you into trouble. Continue reading

Active listening is a critical leadership skill

As regular readers of our blog know, active listening is an essential skill in leadership.  And like most aspects of leadership, it’s a learned skill.  Which is why I’m so pleased that Jackie Edwards is guesting on the blog today with this great piece focusing on the value of active listening.  Jackie is an editor and writer, who previously worked as an HR Manager for a small finance company.  She currently focuses on writing about the world of management and business.

Managers: Are You Really Listening?

When you’re talking to someone, naturally you want to know that they are listening. As in, really listening. This is especially true when it involves your place of work. As a manager, you have a huge part to play in your team’s happiness at work. Being a good listener is key to this. Employees want to know that their manager values their opinions, takes their points on board and responds accordingly. Seeing as we retain half of what we hear (at most), all of us should work on improving our listening skills. To be an effective leader, this is vital.

Be an active listener

The best listeners are active listeners. Active listening means not just hearing what someone says, but focusing on the speaker and showing that you are listening – whether that be through verbal or nonverbal cues, or both. Active listening can be practiced and developed over time by following a few simple steps: Continue reading

Waiting for all the facts … and making decisions

making decisions“We need to wait until we have all the facts …” is something I hear many managers and supervisors say.  It’s often in response to an issue that needs to be dealt with or an unexpected problem that has occurred.  Usually the situation is a difficult one and because the manager has no prior experience with making decisions in an identical or similar scenario, s/he is stalling for time.  The unfortunate reality of course is that if you wait for all the facts, you might be waiting for a really (really) long time; perhaps even an eternity.

When it comes to making decisions, you will never have all the facts

Leadership is about making decisions – it’s inherent in the role of a leader.  The reality is that there are very few instances in which leaders will have complete information … ever.  Whether it is predicting customer behaviour, forecasting sales volumes, expecting employees to act in certain ways, or anticipating your competitors’ activities, you will simply never have all the facts.  Which means that the real question is Continue reading

How to motivate employees – the first tip in our new video series

At the end of last year, I promised that this year I would give you a series of frequent video blogs focusing specifically on zero and low cost ways to motivate, encourage and excite your people.  So that you can create positive and productive workplaces that inspire higher performance and greater commitment.  Today, I’m excited to be kicking off this brand-new series with one specific idea on how to motivate employees, and expect many more in the future in the weeks and months to come.

But before I give you today’s tip, I want to remind you about one fundamental concept in employee motivation which is …. different people are motivated by different things.  So don’t think of each strategy I share with you as the one that will be effective with all your employees.  Instead think of each one as one more tool that you can add to your motivation toolkit.

With that in mind, here is today’s motivation strategy: Be flexible.

Be flexible

When I say be flexible, I mean be flexible in the application of rules.  Your company no doubt has a rule book, or a policy manual; in some organizations it’s a VERY BIG policy manual.  And, all those rules are there for a reason.  But … as a supervisor or manager, one of the most powerful motivation tools you have available to you is that of flexibility in judgement.

Red rules vs blue rules

Some rules relate to health and safety and those are what I call red rules.  Red rules should never be broken.  Continue reading

It’s time to get rid of the performance review!

Time to get rid of the performance reviewIs the performance review obsolete? Is it time to ditch this archaic exercise, which takes up valuable staff hours with no apparent gain? The answer is a resounding “yes” – and I make the case for getting rid of the performance review in my latest column for The Globe & Mail, which published today.  Here is a link to: It’s time to get rid of performance reviews

It no longer serves the intended purpose

Unfortunately, in many organizations today, reviews aren’t really designed to help employees grow; they’re designed to manage promotions and raises. The conversation tends to be more about “here is why you aren’t getting a raise” and less about “here’s how you can add value to the company and your career.” In other words, they’ve become the opposite of what they were intended to be.  If you add the antiquated practice of forced ranking, the result is more people who are disillusioned, disconnected and demoralized than before you started.

So … you know my opinion on this subject, but I’d love to know what you think.  The employee performance review – necessary evil or meaningless management practice?  The Globe has temporarily turned off commenting on articles while they resolve some technology issues, so you can’t comment directly on their site.  But I’d love to hear your thoughts right here on the blog.  Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

Sometimes, The Globe puts my columns behind their paywall. If that happens and you are unable to access the article directly through the link above, we have archived a pdf version at this link:

http://turningmanagersintoleaders.com/PDF/G&M_ManagementOnline_010129.pdf

Want to climb the corporate ladder? Then get recognized as a high-potential employee

high-potential employeeThere are two ways to get ahead in the world of work. One, strike out on your own as an entrepreneur and create your own million dollar company. Or two, successively rise through the ranks in an established organization. Both are viable options, but if your career objective is to climb the corporate ladder, then you need to get recognized as a high-potential employee, or HiPo.

Seven ways to become worthy of high-potential employee status

If rising to the top at your place of employment and getting recognized as a high-potential employee is something you aspire to, then my latest column in Canadian Accountant lays out seven actions you need to take right now in order to become worthy of HiPo status.  Read Looking to rise in the ranks? Here are 7 things you need to do now.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic of what it takes to be recognized as a high-potential employee.  Does it even matter?  What has been your experience?  Good or bad, I’m interested.  Share your thoughts either here or on the Canadian Accountant website.

All our audio CDs are over 80% off – just $13 each!!

Over the holiday season, I mentioned to a young person in my life how our educational audio CDs on our site don’t sell as well as our digital downloadable products.  “CDs are so 1998!” she scoffed.  I had to laugh at her candour.  There’s a lot of truth in what she said, but I still listen to CDs and I’m willing to bet that some of you do as well.  Yeah, I know, I just dated myself, but I’m okay with that.  Nevertheless, I pride myself in at least trying to stay hip and happenin’!  So in the spirit of staying current in the 21st century, we decided here in my office to clear out our inventory of educational audio CDs.

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Over 80% off the regular price

From now until February 15 (or until inventory runs out), we’re putting all the audio CDs on my site on sale!  For an unheard of price of $13 each!  These are normally priced at $67, so if you are still a CD listener, these are an incredible bargain.  There are 22 different titles to choose from – giving effective feedback, having difficult conversations, juggling your workload, to name just three – and each one covers step-by-step, how-to specifics on just about every common workplace leadership dilemma you might face.  Each CD comes with a downloadable note-taking outline that you can use to capture your key takeaways.

You can’t beat $13!

At this price, this is a very cost-effective way to build your leadership toolkit.  The sale price applies to CDs only, not our digital download products, but if you live in Canada or the continental United States, shipping is still free.  And if you live elsewhere, we’ll advise you of the very nominal shipping charge and get your approval before we ship.

Use code ITIS2018 at checkout

This never-before price is in effect only as long as inventories last or until February 15, whichever comes first.  SO DON’T DELAY!  Visit our Leadership Store and use code ITIS2018 at checkout.

A liquid metaphor about achieving goals

At this time of the year, there’s a lot of thought about setting and achieving goals.  In fact, on almost exactly this date last year, I blogged about how my unexpected encounter with a sea otter got me thinking about this very subject.  Today’s musings … about drinking water.

It’s a lot easier to drink water when you have a glass

glasswater3Potable water … absolutely essential to survival, but unless it is contained – within a glass, a bowl, or even a cupped hand – almost impossible to drink.  Sure you could kneel and lap at a running stream just like other members of the animal kingdom, but it’s a lot easier if it is in a vessel of some sort.  Even animals appreciate drinking from an enclosed source such as a pond or a puddle.

At a time of the year when so many people set and achieving goals and targets for their professional and personal lives, this liquid reality offers an apt metaphor.  Think of water as representing dreams and aspirations, the goals and objectives that you hope to accomplish over the next twelve months.  Just like a liquid takes less effort to drink when it is contained within a vessel, desired targets are easier to achieve when they are surrounded by a solid structure.  So what is this vessel that lets you move goals and aspirations from mere dreams to concrete reality?  The outer form of the vessel may differ from situation to situation, but it must always be constructed of three components – it must be specific, it must be measurable, and it must have a deadline.

Here is an example

Let’s say that one of your leadership objectives Continue reading

Open-enrollment leadership training events in Calgary this month

CPALast fall, I was excited to announce that for the third year in a row, I am partnering with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) to deliver high-quality cost-effective leadership skills training in a series of “public” programs.  What’s special about these programs is that they are open to ANYONE from ANY organization.  As many of you already know, most of my leadership training events are for specific client organizations, which means that only their employees can attend.  With this partnership with CPA Alberta though, even if you work in a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget to run onsite leadership training programs, this is your chance to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development!

Two leadership training events in Calgary on January 26 and 30

The first two events in Calgary in this series are coming up at the end of the month.  So if you live in or near Calgary AB, don’t miss this opportunity to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development at a very reasonable cost, and a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors.

Remember, this is open enrollment!

Again … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register.  Continue reading