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Category Archives: Leadership Tools

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

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.

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

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.

Need to inspire and re-ignite your team? Harness the Diderot effect

What is the Diderot Effect?  Simply put, a social phenomenon in which, when a consumer obtains a new possession, it creates a spiral of consumption that leads to the acquisition of even more possessions.  These examples may sound familiar.  You buy a new piece of clothing, and immediately you start looking for new shoes, a new belt, or other accessories.  Or when you replace the carpet in your living room, suddenly the window coverings seem dated and tired, so you need to replace those as well.  Or you finally purchase a new car.  But now you need premium gasoline, and new floor mats (the ones from the old vehicle will no longer do), and other assorted car-related paraphernalia.  This is the Diderot Effect.

denis_diderot“Regrets on Parting With My Old Dressing Gown”

The effect was first described in an essay “Regrets on Parting With My Old Dressing Gown” written by the French philosopher Denis Diderot in 1769.  In it, he describes how he received a gift of a beautiful scarlet dressing gown which while he was initially pleased with, led to unexpected results, eventually putting him into debt.  Once he had a fashionable new dressing gown, the rest of his possessions seemed cheap, so he started making purchases to live up to the new level of elegance and style.  He replaced his old straw chair, for example, with an armchair covered in Moroccan leather; his old desk was replaced with an expensive new writing table; his formerly beloved prints were replaced with more costly prints, and so on.   He writes in his essay” “I was absolute master of my old dressing gown but I have become a slave to my new one.” Continue reading

Employee engagement comes when you actively seek input from all levels of the organization

Jeffrey SharpeJeffrey Sharpe is a Project Manager at one of my client organizations and someone that I’ve had the privilege of working with for several months.  He is not only very good at what he does, but also a thoughtful and intentional leader, constantly seeking positive and productive ways to get more accomplished through others.  When I asked him if he would contribute a guest post here on Turning Managers Into Leaders blog, I wasn’t sure that he would agree.  But he did!  His post below gives first-hand practical advice on how to build employee engagement, both now and for the long haul.

The Importance of Engaging with Workers at All Levels of an Organization

Have you ever wondered what your workers really think of your company? How they would improve it? What they would do differently? Have you ever wondered what your senior management is planning and how it could affect your career?

The answers to these questions are within reach, but only if you are engaging your workers and customers to solicit this information. You could ask them nicely, or demand they tell you. But either way, it’s difficult to seek the truth without each party sacrificing something in return.

When I was young, my father worked at a shipyard as a welder. He would tell me stories about co-workers that were frustrating to work with, bosses who had no clue what was going on with their own front line, and “The Engineer”, a fellow so out of touch with how things operated in the real world and at the job site, it would make your head spin. Naturally, after graduating as a Civil Engineer, I was given a speech that ended with “Don’t let that Iron Ring on your finger cut the blood off to your brain”.   Now I could have taken offense to this message, or I could choose to learn from it. Continue reading

Millennials, Xr’s, Boomers: Leadership & Succession Planning

succession planningI am excited to announce that the Vancouver Island Construction Association has invited me to participate in a special Open House on Wednesday May 16 at their offices in Victoria BC.

Millennials, Xr’s, Boomers: Leadership & Succession Planning

Here’s what you should be thinking about

In a 2-hour open discussion format, I’ll be sharing insights and best practices on millennial leadership, succession planning, knowledge transfer (and a whole lot of other subjects) based on my work with my clients across Canada, the US, and the world.  The construction industry in BC is facing a skilled labour shortage, compounded by the fact that young employees often don’t stick around long enough to develop any breadth of knowledge and experience.  Which creates a huge challenge for the companies in BC’s construction sector.  Continue reading

You are a role model – so walk the talk!

role modelAbout three years ago, I blogged about a very disturbing situation involving a Texas (so-called) veterinarian Kristen Lindsey and her now infamous cat kill.  As difficult as it was to write it, I knew it was important to do so, because I wanted to underscore a very important leadership message.  Which is: you are a role model. Whether you know it, whether you want it, people are watching you, and you have a standard of behaviour to uphold. It’s critically important as a leader to walk the talk.  If you want your employees to act and behave in a certain way, then you need to model that behaviour.  Well this fundamental leadership tenet came up in several discussions with client groups just in the past couple of weeks, so I felt it was worth addressing again today.

You are a role model (whether or not you want to be!)

It’s important as a leader to recognize that you are a role model, and therefore you need to be thoughtful about how you behave and act.  Here are some examples of scenarios described to me recently, where people just didn’t get how important this is: Continue reading

It’s time for the next customer service revolution

Customer satisfaction and customer service has been on my mind lately, primarily because I have experienced two situations first-hand recently in which two banks just didn’t get it!  Last November, I had an unfortunate interaction with ScotiaBank, and just earlier this month I blogged about how an employee at the Royal Bank couldn’t grasp the big picture.  Which got me musing about how customer service has changed significantly in just the last forty years, making it a moving target for those who aspire to exceptional levels.  When it came time to pen my regular column for The Globe and Mail, I guess it’s not very surprising then that I ended up writing about customer service. My column in this morning’s edition challenges you to envision three progressive possibilities that will ensure that your organization is at a significant competitive advantage.  You can read it here:

Artificial intelligence is the next revolution in customer service

customer service

 

Customer service has undergone at least two significant revolutions in the last forty years.  First with the invention of the 1-800 toll-free number, and then with the pervasive use of email.  Despite the significance of each of these two innovations, the underlying premise in customer service has always been to fix an issue identified by the buyer.  But it is 2018, so it is time to finally change that paradigm!  It’s time to fix the problem before your customer tells you about it.  The technology to power this transformation exists; it is called artificial intelligence, or AI.  And many companies have already harnessed its potential.

So, are you keeping up?  Or are you the company that makes your customers wait for hours on the phone for an issue to be resolved, or days for a response to an email query?  I would love to hear your perspectives on which organizations are ahead of the curve, and which are seriously far behind.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.