Merge's Blog

Yearly Archives: 2012

Leadership that is contrary to popular opinion …

Henry Ford is often credited with saying:

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

In fact, my imperfect research has not been able to substantiate this quote, but it nevertheless falls under the category of “well if he didn’t say it, he should have!”  Because it’s a useful principle for every leader to keep in mind!  Clearly, there are times when seeking input and obtaining consensus from your team and other stakeholders is not only important, it’s critical.  But there are also instances when it’s crucial that you stand up, step out, and make decisions that are contrary to what the majority thinks or wants.  Continue reading

Four great prizes up for grabs! Complete our survey for a chance to win!

We want your help in planning our 2013 Leadership Skills Series Live learning events, AND we’re giving away PRIZES in return for your help! It will take less than 5 minutes of your time!

Click to take survey

Every year, at about this time, you, our clients, have helped us plan the next year’s Leadership Skills Series Live learning events.  And we’d like your help yet once again!  But we’re not beyond bribing you to participate!  If you take less than five minutes out of your busy schedule to complete our online survey, we’ll enter your name for one of my Leadership Skills Series Live audio programs.  The topic will be your choice, available either as a downloadable mp3 or an audio CD.  You have nineteen to choose from, each one offering specific, practical and hands-on skills to become a better leader. Whether it’s delegating the right way, overcoming negativity in the workplace, having difficult conversations with employees, or just learning to communicate more persuasively, each one gets right to the heart of the issue and gives you what you need to know! If you want to see what you’ll be making your prize selection from, click here.

We’ll take your responses until 11:45 PM MST Wednesday December 5, and then we’ll randomly draw for four winners. We’ll announce the winners here on my blog, and also in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute.

Please do it now – click here – and thanks for your help!


Dealing with employee complaints – live audio event on November 21

Conflict and negativity in the workplace, if left unchecked, can lead to low team morale and decreased productivity. Even worse, it can shift into harassment, discrimination, or even violence. Which means, that as a leader, you can’t just hope that such issues will simply work themselves out or magically disappear. You have to take deliberate focused action to address the issue!

But do you know how to confidently and assertively address employee complaints and concerns in a manner that will get to the root of the problem and result in positive outcomes? If not, then this audio conference titled “No Whining Allowed – How to deal with employee complaints and concerns” is exactly what you need. In one fast-paced power hour, you will learn specific strategies for assessing and evaluating employee concerns, and tested tactics for dealing with complaints quickly, fairly and in a way that takes care of the situation long-term.

Click here to register now

Don’t wait! If you act by November 14, you can take advantage of early bird savings. Here’s just some of what you’ll learn:

  • Two very important reasons you shouldn’t ignore the problem (or even hope that it will go away)
  • Seven specific things you can do to effectively question, paraphrase and listen to get to the bottom of a concern or complaint
  • How to give your employees tools to become part of the solution (rather than part of the problem), and in the process manage circumstances before things become too hot to handle
  • The “big four” situations when it’s time to bring in the “big guns” in the form of professional help
  • Specific actions that you can take to avoid getting in legal or regulatory hot water later

Join me on November 21, 2012 at 11 AM MST. Early bird pricing in effect ONLY until tomorrow Wednesday November 14!

Click here to register, or for more information

What brings your clients back? Is it what you sell or is it your customer service?

This past August, I was in Shanghai China for several speaking engagements. One evening, my host took me to dinner at Hai de Lao, a very popular chain of “hot-pot” restaurants. If you’re wondering what “hot-pot” is – basically, you’re brought a boiling pot of soup and you spend the rest of your dinner dunking in and cooking as many different kinds of vegetables and meats that you want. Needless to say, the food was fantastic, but it turns out that Hai de Lao is making its mark on the restaurant scene not just for their food, but also for their customer service! Since it’s not uncommon to have to wait up to an hour for a table during peak hours, the restaurant seeks to keep you entertained. Continue reading

What will it take for a rattlesnake to bite itself?

In his landmark book Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind, respected herpetologist Laurence Klauber describes what happens when a rattlesnake is prevented from escaping out of the hot sun. A rattlesnake is exothermic which means that it normally controls its body temperature simply by moving into a cooler area. But if it is unable to do so, its body overheats and within a matter of minutes, death results. As the temperature rises, the rattlesnake gets more and more agitated, trying everything it can to get away, including biting itself in the final minutes of its violent efforts to escape the torment. Essentially, in desperation, the rattlesnake contributes towards its own ultimate demise.

“People perform better under pressure,” is a refrain I often hear when talking to managers and supervisors when they are justifying the fast-paced and stress-filled nature of their organizations and departments . Continue reading

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to dealing effectively with employee concerns and complaints?

Every workplace has at least the occasional disagreement or conflict , and sooner or later, every supervisor or manager is called upon to deal with negativity amongst team members.   If left unchecked, conflict and negativity will lead to low team morale and decreased productivity, and can even shift into harassment, discrimination, or at worst, violence.  Which means that you HAVE to take action NOW in order to prevent a worse situation later.

This is exactly the subject under discussion in my next live audio conference on November 21, 2012.  In “No Whining Allowed – How to deal with employee complaints and concerns”, I’ll be covering specific and practical information on how to confidently and assertively address employee complaints and conflicts in a manner that will get to the root of the issue and result in a positive outcomes.  I’ll be opening the lines for questions, so I want to know – as a manager or supervisor, what is your biggest challenge when it comes to dealing effectively with employee concerns and complaints? What one thing could I help you with so that you can address these issues before they turn into bigger crises? Go to to ask your question and I’ll answer as many as I can on November 21.

And while you’re at, be sure to download the free article – “Conquering the Negativity Toxin” – in which I lay out specific strategies to deal with negativity in the workplace. Just click on the link on the bottom left of the screen.

Three new rules for business writing

Shirley Taylor is one of my professional colleagues based in Singapore who is well known for her business writing training courses.  Given that it’s so important for leaders to be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing, I asked Shirley if she would share some key ideas on the Turning Managers into Leaders blog.  As you can see, she obliged.  Thank you Shirley!

People who write effectively and powerfully are more likely to get listened to, more likely to persuade or convince others, and even more likely to get promoted.   More and more of our work today is undertaken through writing rather than in person or on the phone. As we are writing so much more, we depend on our writing skills to influence, persuade, encourage, collaborate, and to lead. But how often do you notice people talking about the importance of good writing in their day-to-day work? They don’t, right? Most people don’t really notice the quality of the writing they read – they simply react positively, negatively, or not at all. If you have ever wondered if there’s a better way to write your messages so they get better results, there is!

Here are three new rules for written communication: Continue reading

Conflict is necessary for high-performing teams

When it comes to high-performing work teams, conflict and disagreement are not necessarily bad things.  In fact, your goal as a leader is to create an optimum balance between consensus and conflict.  In the October 2012 issue of Lab Manager Magazine, I write on just this subject, and offer some insights into why it’s “oh so important” to create a working environment in which healthy conflict is welcomed and encouraged.

Read the article Conflict and Disagreement Are Not Always Bad: In fact, they are essential to high-performing work teams.

Then come on back to the blog and tell us what you think.  How can you make sure that conflict is healthy and constructive?

Continue reading

Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready

In the hip-hop culture, there is an old adage – “stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready”. In fact, here are the lyrics from a popular rap song “If you stay ready” by Suga Free.

If u stay ready, u ain’t got to get ready

If u stay ready, u don’t ever ever get someone way out to get ready

— Suga Free with DJ Quik from the How to Be a Player album

Sometimes, leadership lessons come from the most unexpected places! Continue reading

For effective meetings ALWAYS take minutes

The word “meeting” seems to elicit a reaction (not usually positive) from virtually every supervisor or manager I talk to. Turns out that most people’s experiences with meetings are not encouraging. This has come up often enough that I have devoted past blogs to this topic:

So here’s one more critical success factor for effective meetings – always take minutes of meetings, and issue them within 48 hours. Minutes provide a written record of what happened at a meeting, but because it sounds like a lot of work, many people balk at this rule. However, meeting minutes do not need to be long or complicated. An effective and popular approach is to focus only on recording action items. Continue reading