Merge's Blog

Category Archives: Workplace Relationship Tools

How to work with someone you don’t respect

When you have little professional respect for a client, a co-worker, an employee, or even your boss, it can be difficult to stay motivated and get things done.  But the unfortunate reality is that sooner or later, you will have to work with or for someone you don’t respect — people whom you may find difficult, distasteful or downright unbearable.  While it’s certainly easier to work alongside those you like, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can only do a good job if you respect your workmates. In fact, you can function effectively with (almost) anyone if you keep just a few things in mind.

It is possible!

How to work with someone you don’t respect is exactly the subject I address in my latest column in The Globe and Mail which published this morning.

How to work with almost everyone — even those you don’t respect

If you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it on page B9.

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/2B9JDKz

The reality is that sometimes you’re just going to have to work with people you don’t like and respect – it’s all part of being an adult in the world of work.  You’ve read my suggestions.  What is your advice to handle these kinds of situations with poise and equanimity?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please share by adding your Comments below.

Five foolproof ways to destroy workplace trust

Are you trustworthy?  Do you find that your coworkers are reluctant to rely on you?  Are you left out of confidential meetings?  Does your supervisor double-check your work or micro-manage you?  Are you always the last person to find out what everyone else already seems to know?

Regular readers of the blog know that I often talk about the importance of building workplace trust.  In fact, in a previous blog post titled How can you build trust in the workplace?, I offered four ideas. Workplace trust is essential to establish not only your reputation, but also to build a strong network of people who will help you throughout your career.  So if you often find yourself in situations such as those above, it may be time to self-reflect; to consider whether your own actions are inadvertently causing others to view you as untrustworthy.

Five things you may be doing that send the wrong message

My latest column in The Globe and Mail published on December 31, and in it I spelled out five unintentional behaviours you may be exhibiting that cause others think that you are not to be trusted.

Unintentional behaviours may be sending co-workers signals you’re untrustworthy

workplace trustIf you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it on page B7.

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/2VlSTDZ

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Do you work with people who are untrustworthy?  Are there any other signs that you think are dead giveaways of people who should not be trusted?  Please share your perspective and your experiences by adding your comments below.

Strengthen social bonds at work by using music

Strengthen social bondsBack in July, music therapist and my professional colleague Jennifer Buchanan guested on the blog with a post on boosting productivity at the office by using music.  Because this is an area that not many people are knowledgeable about, I was delighted to give our readers an opportunity to learn more about how music therapists use music to curb stress, boost morale, and restore health, and what leaders could learn that would benefit their workplaces.  Her post was so well-received that I was thrilled that she agreed to contribute a second post to the blog.  Her contribution today is about music can be used to strengthen social bonds at work.  And as leaders, we know how important it is to nurture and strengthen social bonds between employees – it leads to increased morale, higher productivity and less turnover.

Music: the culture connection that can strengthen social bonds

There is no doubt that music plays a role in our wellbeing. But researchers now suggest that music also plays a significant role in strengthening social bonds. In a 2013 review of the research on music, music psychologist Stefan Koelsch described several ways music impacts our ability to connect with one another—by affecting systems involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation. Here are some ways music can strengthen social bonds at work and hopefully get us back on track: Continue reading

Five reasons Generation Z employees are not Millennials

On January 1 this year, my regular column in The Globe and Mail outlined my assessment of the five employee-related trends that were going to gain the greatest momentum in 2018.  Number three was the influx of Generation Z into the workplace.  As I predicted, this topic continues to be of huge interest to leaders everywhere, so my latest column for The Globe addresses this very subject.

How Gen Zers will distinguish themselves from millennials in the workplace

Generation Z

Generation Z are not just millennials magnified!

Generation Z started turning 23 this year, which means that increasing numbers of them are working in more than just fast food and retail. Just as millennials changed the face of work, so will these young entrants to the workforce. Despite there being similarities between Gen Zers and millennials, there are more differences than not. Don’t make assumptions about who they are, what motivates them, and how they operate to get things done. Above all, don’t presume that they are just millennials magnified.

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/2Px2a8w

So I’d love to hear about your experiences with Generation Z, either because you’re working with them, or because you are one!  Are the five differences that I have outlined what you know and see to be true as well?  Please comment below.

Social awareness is a necessary component of emotional intelligence

social awarenessI have long championed that emotional intelligence is a fundamental and necessary skill for leaders, and I repeatedly see evidence of that (or lack thereof) in my leadership development practice.  A conversation with my husband last weekend reminded me specifically of one significant component of emotional intelligence.  Namely, social awareness – the ability to sense others’ feelings and perspectives and to accurately read emotional cues.

This manager lacked social awareness

Last Friday, my husband and a co-worker were, as he puts it, chest-deep in preparation for a senior management meeting scheduled for early Monday morning when a manager from another area walked into the room.

“Whatcha doing?” he asked with a smile.

“Trying to get all the materials together for the Vice Presidents’ meeting for Monday morning,” said my husband.

“And it’s an absolute mess.  We’re going to have to push until literally the last minute just to make sure that all the required data is there, and to also put it in some semblance of order,” added his colleague.  “I have a feeling that we’ll have to work late tonight, or else we’ll have to come in over the weekend to finish it.” 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.

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!

Continue reading

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