Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: February 2014

How to approach a difficult working environment

CanongateI often hear from leaders who are frustrated by working within what they characterize as a difficult working environment. They feel like they are not given the resources they need, the authority they require, or the support from senior management they want in order to make significant progress towards achieving company, departmental and personal goals. It is in conversations such as these that I am reminded of the words that are carved in stone on the Canongate Wall in the Scottish Parliament buildings in Edinburgh.

Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.

The quote is attributed to Alasdair Gray, who further admits that he actually paraphrased it from Canadian Dennis Lee’s poem titled “Civil Elegies.”

Just because you work in an environment that is frustrating doesn’t mean that you have to be frustrated. In your mind, create your ideal workplace. Identify exactly what it is that you’d like to achieve in your current role. Continue reading

The ability to make choices is motivating for employees

In a previous blog post, I wrote about how giving employees latitude in determining their work schedules and the flexibility to take time to attend to family or personal issues is a huge workplace motivator (To motivate employees, flex those hours). Ultimately, when you let people make choices, you create positive and trusting relationships that lead to higher productivity and performance.

OpenWorkspaceA recent article by Diane Hoskins, co-CEO of the design and architectural firm Gensler, only serves to further prove my point. Their company experience and research, plus data from their company’s 2013 workplace survey showed that employees who have choice in when, where and how to work have higher levels of satisfaction with their jobs and workplaces, are more innovative, and perform better in their jobs. You can read the entire article here. Given that Hoskins is the co-CEO of an office design firm, it’s not surprising that the article goes on to highlight how giving employees choice in how their office space is designed leads to greater employee satisfaction. However, I also found a couple of other points quite interesting: Continue reading

Multi-generational workforce? My new book WILL help!

generation-bookToday is THE DAY!  The day that my new book Generations Exposed: Unexpected Insights Into the People You Work With officially launches.  If you’re leading a team of employees that range in age anywhere from 20 to 70, then this book WILL help you navigate in a multi-generational workplace.  It ‘s been written and designed as an easy-to-use reference guide, illustrated to help you find information quickly so that you can compare and contrast, in a single glance, the differences among the four generations — Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials — in the workplace.  As a leader, your job is to capitalize on the potential that every person — whether a colleague, your boss, or your employee — brings to the work relationship, and I know that this book will arm you with the data and wisdom to do just that.  To view some sample pages or purchase the book, please visit our website by clicking on the link below, or on the photo of the book above.

Generations Exposed: Unexpected Insights Into the People You Work With

We’ve been all-abuzz about the book launch Continue reading

Is your workplace a source of pride for your employees?

Photo credit: Patrick Brown, Hemispheres Magazine
Photo credit: Patrick Brown, Hemispheres Magazine

Last November’s issue of United’s Hemispheres magazine had a very interesting article about how high-security prison inmates in Thailand have the opportunity to reduce their sentences by months (or even years) by participating in prison-sanctioned Muay Thai fighting bouts. If you are not familiar with Muay Thai, it is a full-contact martial arts combat sport that uses fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet. While it may seem paradoxical at first glance – the most dangerous criminals are being awarded their freedom by engaging in fighting – it begins to make more sense once you look closely. As the article explains – “Drugs and gang activity are rampant in Thai prisons, and there are precious few opportunities for rehabilitation or education. Continue reading

Are kindness and compassion necessary in leadership?

Photo credit: The Globe & Mail
Photo credit: The Globe & Mail

A colleague made me aware of this story about kindness and compassion that ran in The Globe & Mail in December.

Are Vancouver’s residents as cold as the icy sidewalks?

Ms. Rosemary Blomeyer is a visually-impaired German immigrant in her eighties who every day, twice a day, asks a passerby to hold her arm and walk her a few blocks to and from the restaurant where she has breakfast every morning. And every day, twice a day, someone obliges. Some are repeat volunteers but just as many are strangers. When asked how this is possible in a city where people are supposedly cold and unfriendly, Ms. Blomeyer replies, “People are nice; you have to talk to them first.” She tells about how there are people who want to help, but fear they will be late for work. She laughs, “Is your boss going to shoot you, I ask them. They change their minds. I think it’s a sort of insecurity in people. Tell them you walked a blind lady, I say. They’ll forgive you. Bosses here aren’t that awful, are they?'” Continue reading

Leadership lessons from a sea turtle

SeaTurtleIn September 2012, during a visit to Mt. McKinley in Alaska, I got into a whimsical discussion with a local guide about what leadership advice a mountain might offer, if it could speak. Just recently, during some “up close and personal” swimming time with green sea turtles in Hawai’i, I somehow ended up in a similar conversation –what leadership advice would sea turtles give us, if they could talk? What leadership lessons can we learn from turtles?  Here’s my list: Continue reading

What some companies are doing to motivate employees – is it working?

baseballFor the last two blog posts (To motivate employees, thank their spouses and families and 5 Specific ideas to motivate employees), I’ve been talking about what you can do to motivate employees – to create a workplace where employees are happy … and productive.  Well a reader sent me a link to an article that was posted in CNN Money on January 22.  It’s titled:

10 top perks from Best Companies 2014

She had her own opinion, but was curious as to what I thought about these in terms of their value in motivating employees.  Some got stellar grades and others failed – three A+s and one D.  Here is my assessment of each: Continue reading

5 Specific ideas to motivate employees

BCHRMA_logoIt doesn’t matter how large your organization or what industry you’re in, if you’re having trouble inspiring your troops, you’re not going to go very far for very long. Unfortunately, there are no magic pills when it comes to encouraging and motivating your people. But one solution to this timeless management conundrum has been known for years!  The Hawthorne Effect, discovered quite by accident in the early 1930s, went on to revolutionize the theory and practice of employee motivation.

The BC Human Resources Management Association‘s online magazine – – recently published one of my articles that not only explains the Hawthorne Effect, but also shows you how to apply it, followed by five specific ideas that you can use to motivate employees.  Continue reading