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Category Archives: Workplace Relationship Tools

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!

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Dealing with narcissists at work

The July/August issue of CPA Magazine features a story about narcissists in the workplace, and how to function effectively with (or despite) them, no matter whether they are your co-workers or your boss.  Yours truly was honoured to be interviewed as an expert source.  Not just an expert source though as I come by some of this knowledge first-hand.  Back in the 1990’s, I (barely) survived an egomaniacal boss and I live to tell the tale!

narcissists and egomaniacs
Narcissism isn’t just confined to the political arena

In recent months, the popular press has been all abuzz about a certain narcissist (no name needed) in international politics.  But unfortunately, 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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Yea-sayer or nay-sayer – what’s your tendency?

Thumbs UpThere are some people who look for problems, and some who look for solutions.  I call the former nay-sayers, and the latter yea-sayers.  Which one are you?  Before you answer, let me explain.

In the workplace, each one of us routinely encounters problems – a product or process isn’t working quite the way it should, or no longer meets the stated need, a new initiative requires a different way of thinking or of doing things, or you’re trying to accomplish a stretch goal.  Whatever the situation, we often have to count on others for information, assistance or know-how.  So we pose the problem, often in the form of a question.  Some people immediately respond with “it can’t be done”, frequently followed by nothing … that’s right, end of discussion, no further conversation.  These are nay-sayers.  Yea-sayers on the other hand Continue reading

When you offer to help, you enhance your relationship with your manager

Last week, in my second post in my recent ongoing series about how to improve your working relationship with your manager, I gave you a “don’t” – don’t correct your boss in front of others.  Today, I want to cover one last (at least for now) piece of advice in this series – look for ways to help.

Offer to help

Build a stronger relationship with your managerAsk your manager if she needs assistance with any project or initiative she has on the go.  Many bosses have very full plates, and like most of us, they’re not always good about asking for help.  But when you offer, when you ask if you can lend a hand, your swamped manager will often gratefully accept.  Sure, you’ve likely got enough to do already, but when you show a willingness to push beyond the day-to-day and take on more than your core responsibilities, you’re sending a very positive message about yourself.  And it’s a message that carries a great deal of weight when it comes to advancement opportunities. Continue reading

If you want a stronger relationship with your manager, don’t correct him in front of others

Earlier this week, I resurrected a topic that I’ve covered in the past, specifically some ideas on how to build a stronger working relationship with your manager.  Monday’s post was about putting yourself in the boss’s shoes.

Don’t correct your boss in front of others

Building a better working relationship with your manager

Today is a “don’t” – something you should never do – which is, correct your boss in front of others.  Now I’m not saying that your manager is always right (that’s simply not possible!), nor am I saying that you shouldn’t correct him; what I am saying is choose the time and place to advise him of his error.  And the time and place is always later, privately.

Going back to Monday’s post for a moment, put yourself in the boss’s shoes.  It can be embarrassing to be corrected by a subordinate (or for that matter anyone) in front of other people.  This is true even if what you are saying is a legitimate correction.  Continue reading

Build a better working relationship with your manager by putting yourself in his shoes

Last year I did a series of three posts on the blog about specific actions you could take to build a stronger working relationship with your manager.  A recent conversation with two staff members at a client organization brought this topic to the top of my mind again, so I thought it was time to add three more to the list.

Put yourself in your manager’s shoes

Build a better relationship with your manager

Today’s tip – when dealing with a particular issue, put yourself in your boss’s shoes.  See things from his perspective.  What is his concern or challenge with the proposed course of action?  What alternatives or solutions can you offer that will mitigate the negative impact?  Anticipate the questions that your manager might ask and make sure you have thoughtful answers that demonstrate that your objectives mirror his.  Do this often enough and you’ll be perceived as a reliable go-to person on the team.

Your relationship with your manager will improve if you understand his pressures

In much the same way, when your supervisor or manager does or says something that you think doesn’t make any sense, put yourself in her shoes.  Continue reading

Deliberately make yourself available to your staff

make yourself availableI’ve blogged previously about the importance of being present in your conversations with your employees, but today I want to come at this same subject from a more macro-perspective.  Today’s message: be seen, show your face, in other words, make yourself available to your employees.

In an earlier blog post about being present, I was talking about giving employees your full attention when you’re talking to them one-on-one (rather than trying to multitask).  But “being seen” is about being a visible presence in their working day; it’s about making yourself available to your staff.  Showing your face is NOT about ensuring that your team members see you at the coffee station so that they know you came to work; it’s about giving them access you as a resource when they need it.  Don’t be the type of leader who holes up in your office with the door closed, or the butterfly that flits rapidly from meeting to meeting with only a passing shadow to show that you were there.  Employees need open access to their leaders, even if it’s brief.

Keep “office hours”

The best way to accomplish this goal is to have “office hours” – time that you deliberately schedule and set aside so that you make yourself available to your employees to answer questions, discuss issues, and provide guidance.  Continue reading

Answering someone else’s question is poor email etiquette

Email2Back in March, I did a series of blog posts on appropriate email etiquette, and the things people do (or don’t do) with email that negatively affects their credibility and effectiveness.  I even did one post on When email is not the best choice ….  Well, prompted by a conversation I had with a client last week, I have one more “don’t” to add to the list.  Don’t respond to questions in a group email that are not directly within your scope of responsibility, at least not right away.

This “don’t” applies to emails you receive in which you are one of several addressees.  I’m not talking about the single informational email that is sent out to a large group distribution, but rather an action-oriented email in which a few people have action items or questions that are under their area of responsibility.  Continue reading

Build synergy and goodwill – the metaphor of compound interest

YogaClassThere is a classic Aesop’s fable about the value of synergy – when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  I was reminded of this fable when my yoga instructor said something to our group while in practice the other day that caught my attention, and stayed with me long after the hot and exhausting session was over.  She said to think of every practice as a deposit into your metaphoric health bank account.  And as sequential deposits build up the total balance, the impact of the compounding interest becomes increasingly visible.  As I reflected on this, it occurred to me that it’s very true, but not just in the context of physical health; it also applies in the workplace environment.

Think about workplace relationships.  When you invest time and energy into building individual relationships with your staff and co-workers – show empathy, lend a helping hand when required, offer a kind ear when it’s needed the most, engage in meaningful small talk – you essentially build goodwill.  Ergo, you make deposits.  And when you make many deposits, the value starts to compound and the goodwill you build grows exponentially, much like compound interest does in a financial bank account.  And goodwill matters!  Continue reading