Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2014

To motivate employees, organize a team volunteer event

multi-ethnic volunteer group hands together showing unityEarlier this week, I offered up an idea in my continuing series on posts on zero and low-cost ways to motivate employees – make work fun.  I plan to write more about this subject in the upcoming months.  But for now, I also promised another zero or low-cost way to inspire and excite employees this week, so here it is – organize a team volunteer event.

Increasingly, organizations – small, large and in-between – are recognizing the value of employee volunteerism.  The reality is that when a team of people works together in harmony and fun to achieve something useful and worthwhile, then they are more engaged and more productive.  And when that “something” is a charitable pursuit that is important to one or more of your team members, then you’ve got a sure-fire recipe for success.  Whether it’s spending the afternoon sorting food at the local food bank, doing some yardwork for a house-bound senior citizen, or fixing the patio at the local children’s club, a team volunteer project encourages teamwork, improves communication, promotes leadership, enhances employee loyalty and retention, increases job satisfaction and morale, and even improves productivity and on-job-performance.  Score!!

Some tips to make this really work: Continue reading

To motivate employees, make work fun

I regularly blog about zero and low-cost ideas to motivate employees.  My last three posts on this subject were:

funSo this week, I thought I’d offer you two more ideas.  Today’s proven technique – make work fun.

Over and over again, organizational research has shown that when employees have fun at work, they are more engaged in their work responsibilities and they perform better on the job. Workplace fun has been shown to increase employee morale, boost creativity and innovation, enhance performance, improve organizational commitment, and decrease turnover.  All very good reasons for you to create a playful and productive environment in your workplace! But … would your employees say that they find their work environment enjoyable, entertaining, playful and encouraging? Continue reading

Active listening can be accomplished by taking notes

writingEarlier this week I offered up a technique to become a more active listener – paraphrasing.  And I promised I’d share one more idea today.  So here it is – take notes.  Yes, that’s right, taking notes will lead to more active listening.  I know that may sound counterintuitive – after all, taking notes would draw your attention away from listening, wouldn’t it?  Not so.  As long as you’re not transcribing, word-for-word, your conversation, you should be fine.  The point of taking notes is to jot down key words and phrases to jog your memory later, not to record the conversation in detail.  And once again, as it was for paraphrasing, taking notes itself doesn’t make you a better listener; it’s because your brain is engaged (because you’re taking notes) that you have a reason to stay present and checked-inContinue reading

Paraphrasing leads to active listening

Listening To GossipThe skill of active listening is of great advantage in the workplace.  Sure, when you listen well it gives you access to information, data that you can use to make better decisions, but the benefits go beyond just this obvious advantage.  Active listening is also a huge motivator – when you listen to what your employees have to say, it affirms them and thus builds and nurtures great working relationships.  Which is why I often blog about what specific techniques leaders can use to become more active listeners.  Last May I wrote about asking questions as a way to improve listening.  Today and later this week, I have two more ideas.  Today’s technique – paraphrase.

Paraphrasing is when you repeat back, in your own words, what you heard the other person say.  So for example: Continue reading

An approach to deal with negative employees

spongeYour best employees are enthusiastic, keen and eager to learn. Think of them as sponges, thirsty for knowledge, just waiting to soak up new experiences and fresh ideas. Contrast them with the other kind of employee – you know, the negative employees that are disenchanted, weary, and jaded by past encounters. They are sponges too. But these sponges are saturated and sodden, flooded with negativity borne from past situations. And because the sponges are already full, there is no room for anything else!

Until you squeeze water out of a drenched sponge, it cannot absorb any more. Which is something worth keeping in mind if you’re struggling with motivating an uninspired or disillusioned employee. You cannot just create a positive and stimulating environment and hope that such people will absorb the excitement and energy. If they’re already full of dissatisfaction and bitterness, then there will not be room for anything else, no matter how much effort you put into it. So think first about what you can do to “squeeze” out the negativity. Take the time to get to know these staff members at more than a superficial level. Find out about past situations that might have created their current mental state. Probe to discover the source of their “baggage”. Try and get at the root cause of the liquid deadweight. Only once you have squeezed out some of the liquid will they be able to absorb any more.

Well, what are your ideas or tips on things that leaders can do to “squeeze” out the old? Please share them by adding to the Comments link below.

Discomfort is normal in change management

TripOverBarLiz Weber is my business colleague, a friend, and has previously written a guest post on this blog (Unable to delegate effectively? You may be the reason).  She also pens her own blog and this recent post about change management – When you raise the bar, your team will trip over it – caught my attention.

In this article, she talks about how when trying to implement change in organizations, things get messy before they get organized!  In other words, things feel a lot worse before they finally get better.  This makes sense because any sort of change shakes things up, and this makes people feel uncomfortable.  But discomfort is actually a good thing because it means that people are doing something differently than they did before.  So when you “raise the bar”, it’s okay for team members to trip and fall and even get a few bumps and bruises, it’s part of the process of moving forward.

So take a quick read through Liz’s post and then come on back here and share your experiences.  What has been your encounter with the discomfort associated with change – either what you’ve seen or what you’ve experienced yourself?  Was it good or bad?

Piss-off factors – how smart managers do stupid things

My latest column in The Globe & Mail‘s Leadership Lab series is out today!

“Why do smart managers do stupid things?”

In this column, I talk about Piss-Off Factors (or POFs), things that short-sighted managers do to destroy employee morale. POFs are something that I have blogged about often, primarily because they occur repeatedly. And interestingly enough, they are rarely intentional (which is why they are SO stupid)!

G&M110414 Continue reading