Merge's Blog

Category Archives: Workplace Relationship Tools

Successful business relationships require that you invest before you withdraw

I continue to be astounded at how many people simply don’t understand what it takes to build solid thriving business relationships that stand the test of time.  This was emphasized to me, yet again, because of something that happened a few weeks ago.

business relationshipsbusiness relationshipsNow that we have opened our new west coast office, I find myself attending a lot more business networking events in Victoria and Vancouver than I have in the past.  At one of these well-attended events, I was walking back to my vehicle at the end of the evening, when I happened to find myself next to a woman who was also leaving the same event.  I had not had an opportunity to meet her earlier in the evening, so as we made the three-minute walk to the parking lot, we shook hands and introduced ourselves to each other.  As we parted ways beneath a street light, she asked for my business card, suggesting that we should meet again over a cup of coffee to get to know one another.  I readily agreed, always open to building relationships in my professional circles.  I took her business card as well, intending to connect with her the next time I was in town.

Our next contact was not what I expected

One week later, I received an email from her.  But it didn’t contain the expected invitation to coffee.  Continue reading

Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial?

As workplace demographics shift, with the boomer and the generation-Xer increasingly leaving the work force and the millennial entering, the common belief is that employees are no longer loyal to their employers. Young people are regularly maligned for being self-absorbed and entitled; not willing to “pay their dues”; and impatient to get the promotions and compensation they feel they deserve. As a result, the unfortunate, widely held sentiment is they cannot be counted on to stick around for the long haul, nor ever be loyal to a company.  But this point of view is flawed.  And my latest column in The Globe & Mail‘s weekend Management series focuses on why.

millennial

The reality is that workplace loyalty is not dead.  However, “loyalty” has a different meaning than it might have had 20 or even 10 years ago.  You can read Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial? here.  In this column, I offer three proven ideas to successfully attract and keep employees in this new age of loyalty.

As always, I’d love to hear your point of view.  What has been your experience?  And please, pass the link on to others in your departments and organizations who may find it of interest.  When we all dialogue about this subject, we are on our way to finding sustainable and effective solutions.  Please comment directly at The Globe’s site, or post your response right here on the blog.

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, you can read a pdf version at this link.

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