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Category Archives: Leadership Tools

What the earth sciences can teach us about creating a positive workplace culture

As regular readers of the blog know, I often discuss what it takes to create the right workplace culture.  A recent conversation with a manager at a client organization made me realize something that I (even though I instinctively know) have never fully articulated before – that the most powerful and positive workplace cultures are created over time.  Let me explain.

colcacanyonperuColca Canyon in southern Peru is one of the deepest in the world, and at a depth of 3,270 metres (10,730 ft), it is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States.  Looking at it from above, you might think that this colossal fissure on the earth’s surface was created by an earthquake or other cataclysmic event.  It wasn’t.  The Colca Canyon was formed by thousands and thousands of years of erosion of volcanic rock along the line of a fault on the crust of the earth.  Unceasing erosion – water erosion from the Colca River that flows through the mountains of rock; and wind erosion carrying away the loose sediment exposing even more surface area to the elements – created the spectacular geological formation we see today.  The Colca Canyon wasn’t the result of sudden dramatic change, it is the outcome of thousands of small changes, over time.

Small changes, over time, produce significant results

Small changes, over time, can produce significant results; it’s a thought worth considering as a leader in your workplace.  Continue reading

Leadership training events this month in Edmonton

CPALast month, 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 is 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 conduct an onsite leadership training program, you now have a cost-effective way to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development!

The first two events in this six-month series are coming up at the end of the month in Edmonton.  So if you live in or near Edmonton 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 leadership training is open enrollment!

Again … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register.  And if you are a member of a profession that requires continuing education credits, this is a fun, informative and relatively inexpensive way to meet your annual professional requirements.  Continue reading

Is your customer service helping you laugh all the way to the bank?

MikeKerr1Later this year in November, I will be sharing the mainstage platform with my professional colleague, friend and all-round funny guy Michael Kerr at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary.  Which is why I am thrilled that he agreed to guest on the blog again today.  Well that, and of course, because his messages are always so on-point.  Last time Mike was my guest on the blog, he wrote about the Seven messages leaders need to deliver to their customer service team.  Today, he poses the question:

Is Your Customer Service Helping You Laugh All the Way to the Bank?

One way to exceed your customers’ expectations and stand out from the herd to be heard over your competition is to look for creative ways to add a bit of fun to your customer service. Here are just a few ideas from my latest book, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank, to help you get your creative juices flowing: Continue reading

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

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

Don’t set employees up to fail

I often blog about how managers, sometimes inadvertently, set employees up to fail.  Unfortunately, this issue comes up repeatedly.  Which leads me to the opening question in today’s post: if you want to successfully run a marathon, would you do it blindfolded?

Would you run a marathon blindfolded?

set employees up to fail

Of course not.  Yet, it is exactly what is asked of so many employees by their managers in workplaces across the country!  And every time they do that (often unintentionally), they set employees up to fail.

When people are asked to complete tasks or fulfill responsibilities but they are not given the tools and information they need in order to successfully get the job done, it is the metaphoric equivalent of trying to run a marathon without the benefit of sight.  Even if there are people on the sidelines shouting out instructions, yelling louder does not get the runner to the finish line.  What the marathoner really needs to be successful is an overview of the course with a mental picture of the finish line, adequate running gear (shoes, etc.), mile markers at strategic points to indicate progress, onlookers offering encouragement along the way, and oh yes, the crystal-clear ability to see where s/he is going.

How would you remove the blindfold at work?

In a work environment, the metaphoric “removal of the blindfold” includes: Continue reading

Sexual harassment and the C-suite

Sexual harassment in organizations – lately it seems to be non-stop, and quite frankly, it’s increasingly hard to keep up.  Every few days, there is another headline news story about a senior executive (who should have known better) saying or doing something sexually inappropriate to someone junior in his organization.  And that is exactly what prompted my weekend column for The Globe & Mail (which published in Saturday’s print edition).  Regular readers of my blog know that since January 2014, I’ve frequently written for the Leadership Lab series in The Globe, but this latest column is different in that it’s part of their Management series.  Read: Harassment and the C-Suite.

Major favour request

Once you’ve read it, please pass the link on to others in your departments and organizations.  The more people that read, react and comment on this story, the more likely I am to get asked back to write more for The Globe.  Please add your comments directly on The Globe‘s site.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that this series will now become my new home at The Globe, so I’d appreciate (and be eternally grateful for) your support.

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Continue reading

What creates healthy employees? The Globe’s Employee Recommended Workplace Awards offers insights

ERWAJust over one year ago, I told all of you about this very cool project that was sponsored by my colleagues at The Globe & Mail – a Canada-wide survey that is investigating what companies are doing to foster a working environment that creates engaged AND healthy employees.  The definition of “healthy” doesn’t just mean physical health, but also mental, work and life health.  This year-long project culminated with nine companies receiving the inaugural annual Employee Recommended Workplace Awards last month in Toronto.    Winners were announced in three categories (private, public, and not-for-profit/government) in the small, mid-sized and large groupings, and you can see them here (scroll down to find the list).

What creates healthy employees?

A follow-up story in The Globe on engaged and healthy employees titled The winning formulas for workplace wellness offered an opportunity for each of these companies to list the single factor that they believe caused their employees to rank them so highly.  You can read the entire article at the link I’ve given you, but I’ve listed the nine factors for you below: Continue reading

Seven messages leaders need to deliver to their customer service team

mikekerr3My professional colleague and friend Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker and the author of six books, including The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.  He is also my guest blogger today, writing about what it takes to create an organizational culture that is focused on customer service.  Even though I’ve often blogged about specific situations that demonstrate what it takes to build (or destroy) customer loyalty (for example, Tilley Endurables, G Adventures, United Airlines, and Sahara Furniture), Michael’s post today comes at this subject from a more macro perspective.  Good reading, I hope you find it of value as well.

P.S. Michael and I will be sharing the mainstage platform (with two other exceptional speakers) at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary later this year on November 15.  More information about the Summit is at the end of this post below.

A young woman approached me after a talk recently and asked me the following question:  “I’m a brand new leader overseeing a large customer service department and I really want to drive home the importance of customer service,  so what messages could I deliver to help my employees embrace a service-first attitude?”

Seven messages you should heed

Here’s the gist of what I relayed to her –  seven messages I think any customer service leader needs to tell their employees around the topic of customer service. Continue reading

Leadership lessons from the American bald eagle

leadership lessons from the bald eagleI am continually amazed by the insightful leadership lessons that can be learned from the animal kingdom; in the past I’ve written about sea otters, goldfish, long-nosed bats, Canada geese, and penguins.  Recently, I had the opportunity to have a close-up interaction with an American bald eagle at a bird rescue sanctuary (I took this photo on the right), and not surprisingly, there were leadership lessons to be had here as well.  Here are two interesting parallels between bald eagles and exceptional leaders.

The ability to stay high AND come down low

Eagles tend to spend most of their time in elevated locations.  When they are hunting, they soar high in the sky.  When they are resting, they look for the loftiest spot they can find in trees, craggy rocks, or even rooftops.  They can stay at higher altitudes because they have excellent vision.  Continue reading