Merge's Blog

Yearly Archives: 2013

We’ll be back on January 9!

As we roll into the holiday season, we’re taking a short hiatus at the Turning Managers into Leaders blog.  But we’ll be back, excited and energized, ready to talk and learn, on Thursday January 9, 2014.  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!

In the meantime, my best wishes to all of you and your loved ones for a festive, joyous, rejuvenating time with family and friends.  I hope you’ll continue old traditions and find the time to create new ones!

Solid relationships stand the test of time

Just in time for the holiday season, a feel-good video from Google about how miles and decades apart cannot weaken friendships and relationships. It’s 3-1/2 minutes long, but it’s worth it, I promise. I watched it several times and it brought a tear to my eye each time. By the way, it has English captions, but even if you don’t read them, you’ll get the gist of the story.

So since I’m always looking for leadership messages to share with all of you, what’s the message here? I think it’s two-fold Continue reading

Lack of strategic thinking by Air Canada misses opportunity to build goodwill

I often write about the piss-off factor – it’s when short-sighted and small-minded managers make decisions that discourage and turn off their employees and customers.  Like the time when the owner of a floor installation company lied just to avoid paying for a $200 repair.  Unfortunately, there never seems to be a shortage of examples proving that the piss-off factor is alive and well in corporate offices around the world.  And just recently, yet another example surfaced again.  Now I’ll start by saying that normally I’m an Air Canada fan.  In fact, I’m such a fan that I’ve blogged positively about them in the past (See Good leaders listen to customers and employees and Good leaders respond to customer feedback).  But in this recent situation, I think their management missed the mark, by a mile!  Let me explain.

AirplaneSeatsBecause I am a frequent flyer, Air Canada gives me a limited number of eupgrade credits that I can use for complimentary upgrades from the economy to business class cabin.  As someone who spends much of her working life in the air, this is a perk that I appreciate greatly.  And the more (distance) I fly with Air Canada, the more credits they give me at pre-assigned thresholds.  These eupgrade credits are on a request-only space-available basis.  Which means that I can make a request, and if (and only if) there are vacant unsold seats in the front cabin, I will receive an upgrade, often at the gate just before boarding.  When you think about it, it’s a great way for Air Canada to do something nice for their most frequent flyers and build immense goodwill; and at zero incremental cost since these are seats that would have gone empty anyway.  Great idea – but then they went and made a single bone-headed move that promptly destroyed the goodwill they’d worked so hard to build!  Continue reading

Four things you can do to boost your employees’ self-confidence

bigstock-Psychology-Self-Confidence-Co-46487569Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to complete tasks and achieve goals.  So in other words, it’s whether or not you believe you can succeed in specific situations.  Extensively studied by noted psychologist Dr. Albert Bandura for almost six decades, self-efficacy has important implications for your role as a leader; after all, when your people are confident and believe in themselves, their ability to get things done increases significantly.  So what can you do to increase your staff’s confidence and belief in themselves?  Dr. Bandura’s pioneering research has identified four factors that affect people’s self-efficacy.

  1. Experience.  Past success raises self-efficacy, while failure lowers it.  It is the most important of the four factors, so it’s worth investing your energy in setting your employees up for success – put them in situations where you know they have the skills to do a good job.  Don’t inadvertently set them up to fail by assigning work that they are not trained for or not capable of doing. Continue reading

Empty Your Email Inbox and Fill Your Team – Part II

DeriLatimer2As promised, Deri Latimer is back as a guest on the blog today, continuing from her post earlier this week in which she gave us ten specific ideas to reduce the amount of time you spend managing your email. Now that you have all this free time :), Deri’s post today focuses on eleven things you can do to invest in your people.

Now that your inbox is less full, and you are less imprisoned by a deluge of email, start instilling practices to fill your team. Some of the many possibilities include:

  1. Help. Give your team what they need most. Often you will find that what they need is some simple assistance from you. A vote of confidence to make a decision, certain tools to do the job properly, permission to vent (and then problem solve) about a frustrating customer/client experience. Continue reading

Empty Your Email Inbox and Fill Your Team – Part I

DeriLatimer1Deri Latimer is a business colleague, a good friend, AND an expert in positive possibilities for people! So I am thrilled that she has agreed to be our guest blogger for both posts this week. Almost every leader I’ve met recognizes the importance of making investments in their people, but also struggles with balancing operational needs at the same time. Which is why Deri’s posts are so timely. Today, she offers you ten tips to manage the one activity that seems to take up an inordinate amount of time – email! And later this week, she’ll give you ideas to fill up all that free time you’ll generate 🙂 – eleven things that you can do to invest in your team.

“I’m not an email expert”, I told my client. I was sensing that email management was a concern for the managers in this organization, and I wanted to make sure that I understood their expectations for my keynote at the conference. Continue reading

A disappointing interaction with Kraft highlights an important component of written communication

Form letters – we all use them, mainly because it makes life easier. After all, it’s a lot simpler to “cut and paste” a canned response to questions that are asked frequently. But … and this is a big BUT … it’s VERY important to read the question first. Too bad Kraft hasn’t figured this out!

KraftI often visit the Kraft Canada site to peruse recipes, look at new products, and download coupons. The other day I attempted to print off a coupon that required a newer version of Java. But the link on the Kraft website put me into an incorrect subroutine and I couldn’t download the software and coupon I needed. I sent off an email to their technical support and received a response the next day.

Hi Merge,

Thank you for visiting

Unfortunately, this promotion was so popular that the coupons offered were depleted.

Thank you for contacting us and please add our site to your favourites and visit us again soon!

Kim McMiller, Associate Director, Consumer Relations

Huh? Clearly Kim McMiller had sent me the Dear Coupon User letter – the same one that anyone gets when they write to Kraft asking about coupons. And it was obvious that no one had even bothered to read my email! Continue reading

Employee volunteer programs increase employee engagement

CGA1112-2013Research shows that volunteer projects taken on by groups of employees encourage teamwork, improve communication, promote leadership and other skill development, enhance employee loyalty and retention, increase job satisfaction and morale, and even improve productivity and on-job-performance. With all these positive outcomes, you’d expect that companies and departments would be clamoring to sign up. Not so. And that’s usually either because managers have bought into several myths about why such projects won’t work, or because they don’t know how to make it happen.

In my latest article in CGA Magazine, I address the three most common myths that stall such initiatives AND offer three specific things that you can do as a leader to maximize the value potential inherent in a team volunteer project. Continue reading

Personalized service (even if it’s low-key) attracts customers

About a year ago, I wrote about how Hai de Lao, a popular chain of “hot pot” restaurants in mainland China, has used above-and-beyond personalized customer service to differentiate itself from its competitors. While the Hai de Lao experience is definitely “up there”, a recent low-key experience in Honolulu reminded me that you don’t have to necessarily do it in the Hai-de-Lao-up-in-the-stratosphere style to achieve a similar result.

So what was the experience? The elevators at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani resort in Honolulu. Or more specifically, what was on the walls of the elevators. Three times a day, in each of the six elevators in the hotel, a hand-made quilted original wall-hanging with a greeting is replaced to reflect the time of the day. Each wall-hanging is original and different from all the others.

It’s just wall-art, right? Nothing to get excited about? Or so you’d think. Continue reading

Change is integral to survive, in fact to thrive!

Darwin_Change_QuoteIn my last blog post, I wrote about the predictability of people’s responses to negative change, and how leaders could use that information to lead change initiatives. Today’s blog post continues on that theme, and it was prompted by the t-shirt I saw displayed in a store during my recent trip to the Galapagos Islands (where Charles Darwin first postulated On The Origin of the Species). In case you’re looking at this post on a small screen, here’s what the t-shirt says:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.  It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.  —  Charles Darwin

Continue reading