Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Getting the greatest return on investment (ROI) from your people

CGA0708-2013CoverThe ultimate wisdom of business decisions is determined by whether you get a positive return on your investment (ROI).  And decisions about spending on employees are no different, they should be made on the same criteria.  There is one significant distinction though — when it comes to making investments in people, the ROI is not always readily evident, nor it is easily quantifiable.  And for this reason of measurement ambiguity, many leaders fall into the trap of thinking that this kind of spending is not viable.  Not so!  When you make thoughtful and wise investments in your people – beyond just the basic salaries and benefits – then you will get a return on that investment – in the form of engaged employees who are committed to your organization and who will go above and beyond to make your company thrive and succeed.  In my latest column in CGA Magazine, I explore the four areas of “people spending” that will give you the greatest return on your investment. Continue reading

Working with Millennials – invite them to get involved

Millennial10Earlier this week, I blogged about one way to tap into and harness the immense potential that the Millennial generation brings to the workplace – give them variety (but with structure). I had promised to offer up another idea today, so here it is.

Invite them to get involved. Continue reading

Working with Millennials – give them variety (but with structure)

Millennial13In previous blog posts, I’ve offered up specific ideas on how to work more effectively with the Millennial generation, the newest entrants into the workplace. By the way, just in case you didn’t know, Millennials are defined as those born between 1980 and 1994.

In today’s and my next blog post, I have two more specific approaches to give you.

Give them variety … but with structure. Continue reading

How to maintain your composure? Know that your actions will control the outcome of any situation.

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post titled How to maintain your composure? Identify your main triggers. In it, I promised that I would offer additional ideas in future blog posts, and then of course, I promptly forgot! Well, I received an email last week from a reader who was surfing the archives and he gently pointed out to me that I had not kept my word! So for Jeremy (and anyone else who works with clients or employees who “push your buttons”), today’s blog post is for you!

When you find yourself in situations where you’ve come dangerously close to losing your cool because of a frustrating employee, an irritating colleague, or even an exasperating client, it’s important to recognize that that these people are behaving predictably. Your past experience with any specific one of these people means that you can expect or at least guess what they are going to say or do that will make you upset or angry. Realizing that this behaviour is predictable AND that they’re not going to change their behaviour MEANS that the only thing you can change is your own response or behaviour. Managing how you react will improve your control of the situation. Continue reading

When it comes to exceptional leadership, the HOW matters more than the WHAT

Girl with a crownI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — in leadership, the HOW matters much much more than the WHAT!

I often get calls or e-mails from regular blog readers giving me examples and/or seeking my perspective on situations they are observing or are facing in their workplaces.  With their permission, I often share those situations with all of you if I think there is an opportunity for discussion and for all of us to learn.  In fact, one situation happened just last week: The piss-off factor. Short-sighted stupid actions by people in management.

So here’s another one — about a few days ago I got a call from a reader who is very frustrated with a situation in her workplace.  She works for a very large company and had been hearing rumours for several weeks that she was going to be transferred into another job.   Apparently she has some specialized skills that are needed in this new role.  Only one problem, she didn’t really want the new job.  Continue reading

Are you a hummingbird? (Taking advantage of adversity)

Did you know that hummingbirds are the only ones of our feathered friends that can fly backwards? In fact, they can fly up, down, sideways or even stay almost motionless in one spot. Turns out that all other birds get their power of flight on the down-stroke, which means they essentially fall, then use their wing power to lift themselves up. And it’s why they can only fly forwards. The hummingbird however uses both the down- and the up-stroke. And as a result, it can do things no other bird can do – stay perfectly still in space, fly backwards, forwards, to one side or another, upside-down, and everything in-between.

So by taking advantage of the energy created from both the up- and the down-stroke, the hummingbird is able to do so much more than any other member of the avian species. It got me thinking about whether there is a parallel to be drawn to the human species. Continue reading

A real-life example of successful organizational change

Last week, Rob, Senior Vice President at a major oil and gas company, guested on Turning Managers into Leaders, talking specifically about how organizational change needs to be implemented differently today than it was done ten or fifteen years ago.  Rob is back today to continue the dialogue by offering a specific example of how change should be implemented today.

FaceQuestionMark2Let’s have a look at an example of this “new way” that I referred to in my last post.  In a recent major change that I was part of, I set out a case for change and some initial thoughts but the details of the case were extensively debated and shaped at my leadership table.  This included a high level structure but more importantly key values and objectives.  This was all done without any of the participants knowing what roles they would have in the “new world”! Continue reading

How do you bring about successful organizational change today?

As many of you know, for over fourteen years I worked for the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell in Canada.  And during my time there, I had the privilege to cross paths with some very great leaders, many of whom were my role models in my continued quest to become a better leader.  When I left Shell to create my own leadership development consultancy in 2002, I lost touch with several of those people who were pivotal in my development.  But … I work with a wide variety of clients, and every so often I “find” one of those important people who have moved on to other organizations as well.  That’s exactly what happened when I delivered the opening keynote at a Corporate Summit earlier this year!  I was able to reconnect with Rob, who I haven’t seen in over 11 years, and who is now the Senior Vice President at another major oil and gas company!  Given his vast experience and successful track record in leadership, I asked him if he would guest on the Turning Managers into Leaders blog today.  Not only did he graciously agree, but he is going to write a follow-up blog next week (July 8) as well.

FaceQuestionMarkAs a baby boomer whose been working in the corporate world for more than 30 years, I’ve seen my share of organizational change.  My thesis to you is that what makes for successful change today is different – it reflects the changes in our values, our society and the generations that are in it. Continue reading

The piss-off factor. Short-sighted stupid actions by people in management


Aerial view of downtown Calgary on June 28, 2013

As most of you reading this blog probably know by now, much of the city of Calgary AB as been in a state of emergency since Thursday June 20 when heavy rains across southern Alberta lead to widespread flooding.  Downtown Calgary was evacuated that morning as flood waters breached the banks of the Bow River and groundwater began to swell.  Basements and underground parkades filled up quickly and water rose several feet in the main floors of many buildings.  In fact, as you can see in the photo, at one point, downtown Calgary streets could have been mistaken for the canals in Venice!  Starting last week, power has been restored to many neighborhoods and the giant clean-up effort has begun.  A few offices in downtown Calgary opened for business again on Tuesday June 25, and as the week continued more followed suit as additional buildings were cleared for safety and other requirements.  By all standards, this is probably the worst disaster Calgary has ever faced in its history as a modern city.  Which brings me to the subject of today’s post!

The piss-off factor.  I’ve blogged about the piss-off factor before (in fact, just last week) – it’s when short-sighted and small-minded managers do stupid things to discourage and turn off their employees.  Well, it’s alive and well, and surfacing yet again!  Continue reading