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Monthly Archives: December 2011

We’ll be back on January 9

It’s that time of the year … holiday parties, time with friends and family, taking some time off, continuing old traditions and starting new ones! In the spirit of the season, we’re taking a hiatus at the Turning Managers into Leaders blog, but I’ll be back, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, on Monday January 9, 2012.

My best wishes to all of you and your loved ones for a festive, joyous, rejuvenating holiday season, and I can’t wait to see you all again in the new year!  I look forward to another fantastic year of sharing tips and exchanging ideas, starting conversations and perhaps even some arguments, all in the pursuit of becoming even better leaders than you already are!

Giving negative feedback? It is possible to do it and actually boost an employee’s spirit!

A few weeks ago, I gave you a short video clip about focusing on the problem rather than the person when giving negative feedback to your employees.  In this installment, I show you a way to criticize an employee while actually boosting the employee’s morale!  Watch the video below to find out how.

If giving negative feedback to your employees is something you struggle with, then be sure to also take another look at these past blog posts:

So, let’s have a conversation about how you manage this challenging aspect of your leadership role.  Share your approach to giving negative feedback with me and others on this blog.  Just click on the Comment link below.

Why conflict and disagreement are essential for high-performing teams

As a leader, your goal is to create an optimum balance between consensus and conflict.  You want people to get along and achieve stated objectives, but you also want them to speak up when they need to, even if their message is unwanted or controversial.  Most communication strategies focus on creating agreement and harmony, but in this latest issue of CGA Magazine, I shift attention to the opposite end of the spectrum.  I take a closer look at the negative workplace phenomena known as The Abilene Paradox and Groupthink, and offer some practical ideas to facilitate productive disagreement in the workplace.  Read the entire article here.

What specific things are you doing in your department or organization to discourage instances of the Abilene Paradox and groupthink?

Seek agreement and consensus when making changes

Strangler figs are a common species in the rainforest ecosystem and I saw them up-close during a recent visit to Cairns, Australia.  These are tall canopy trees that start life in an unusual way.  Tiny sticky seeds are deposited high in trees through bird pollination and they germinate as epiphytes on the tree branches.  Initially, the seedlings get their nutrients from the sun and rain high up in the canopy, but soon they start sending out numerous thin roots down the tree trunk. When these roots reach the ground, they dig in and begin to grow quickly, competing with the host tree for water and nutrients.  The roots start to encircle the trunk and fuse together, and as they grow thicker, they tighten and cut off the host tree’s flow of nutrients.  At the same time up top, the strangler fig puts out leaves that overtake the tree and rob it of sunlight.  Eventually, the host dies from strangulation and insufficient sunlight.  In the end, the strangler fig stands on its own, a hollow central core being the only reminder of the original host.  “Not bad for something that started off as a mere stray seed carried in bird droppings!” you might think.  Except for one thing – because the central trunk of the strangler fig is hollow, it is very easy for a passing woodcutter to chop the tree down.  And many do.

An apt metaphor for what can happen in the workplace when a new supervisor joins an existing team.  Usually appointed by a senior leader, the new manager often has innovative ideas and fresh energy and can’t wait to get going, to make changes and create new opportunities.  Which is great … but not if progress is made through force and intimidation, instead of through agreement and consensus.  Both methods will achieve success in the short-term, but in the long-term is where the differences will be patently obvious.  Growth and success that comes from pressure and coercion will have a hollow core, and just like the strangler fig, a tree with a hollow core is much easier to cut down.  Far more effective to grow the tree through agreement and consensus, because a solid trunk can withstand the woodcutter’s machete much more effectively.  Worth keeping in mind when you step into a new leadership role.

So, do you agree?  What’s been your experience?  Have you observed situations where progress made through coercion have failed later?  Or vice versa?

Announcing our survey contest winners …

Last month we asked for your help in determining the topics and content for our 2012 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences, and your feedback was FANTASTIC!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for participating!  Your input helps us give you learning programs that you want and need.  We also promised that we would draw for four chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value.  Our lucky winners are … drumroll please …

  • Chris Dyck, Vancouver BC
  • Susan Ramsay, Oshawa ON
  • Jackie Miles, Toronto ON
  • Carol Shaver, Madison SD

Our four winners will choose their favourite learning program from any of my Leadership Skills audio courses (you can preview the entire collection here).

The results of our 2012 Leadership Topics survey are in!

Many thanks to all those that participated in our latest survey!  Your insights have been incredibly invaluable as we plan for our Leadership Skills Series Live programs for 2012.  We’ll continue to take a closer look at the results in the next few weeks and will soon be announcing our audio conference schedule for next year.  In the meantime though, here are your top three picks in our survey in terms of overall rating.

  • Mastering the Performance Evaluation Process – You can’t manage what you don’t measure
  • The “Let’s Not Kill the Messenger” Manual – A leader’s guide to communicating unpopular decisions and changes
  • No Whining Allowed! – How to deal with employee complaints and concerns

For four years now, you, our clients, have helped make our quarterly learning series hugely popular, so in return for your help, we promised you prizes, four in fact!  We’ll be randomly drawing for our lucky winners from all the completed surveys and we’ll announce the results right here later this week.  We’ll notify winners individually as well.  Each will get his or her choice of a Leadership Series Live audio CD or mp3.  Fifteen to choose from, and you can see them here.

Energy-boosting tips for leaders-on-the-move (Part II)

Last month, health and productivity expert (and my good friend) Michelle Cederberg, CSP was our guest blogger, and she gave us many ideas on easy things to work into our busy schedules in order to get more exercise, eat healthier, and stay hydrated.  Well, she’s back!  And today, she has even more tips to boost your energy, particularly useful if you’re a leader with a full schedule and a long list of responsibilities.

Last month, I wrote about how you can ride the leadership roller coaster of success and stress by taking small self-care steps every day in key energy-generating areas of your life.  I spoke specifically of the importance of exercise, healthful eating, and water intake.  Today I want to talk about three more specific areas that you can focus on in order to feel your best, so you can do your best — on the job and in life.

Zzzzz’s please

I know you’re busy and there aren’t enough hours in the day but when did sleep become a luxury? Continue reading