Merge's Blog

Yearly Archives: 2015

We’ll be back on January 11!

Celebration2As is customary for us at this time of the year, 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 Monday January 11, 2016. 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!

Why CEOs should not take a vacation

My latest Leadership Lab column for The Globe & Mail is up in cyberspace!

Why CEOs should not take a vacation

Executive coaches often encourage CEOs in growing organizations to work “on” their business instead of “in” their business. So far, that’s pretty good counsel, and I don’t disagree. It’s the frequent follow-up conversation that gets me all twisted up though! Advice such as “You should be able to go on a two-week vacation and never have to check back into the office; the mental break will allow you to return refreshed, ready to take your company to even greater heights” or “Your time is better spent networking at the golf course or at industry events because that is where you’ll discover new business opportunities and further build existing relationships” may sound textbook-perfect, but quite frankly it’s idiotic and a sure-fire recipe for failure. I explain further on The Globe‘s site.


Well, what you think? Are all those executive coaches right after all, or do you agree with my contrarian point of view? Please share your views directly on The Globe‘s site so that your insights are available to their significant readership. Or if you wish to comment in a more targeted way, drop me an email or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks). And please … do tell me if you speak as a CEO, an executive coach, or from another perspective.

And one last thing — do me one HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe‘s site using the share icon at the very top of the article). My objective is always to get the dialogue started so the more people who join in the conversation, the more I’ve succeeded in achieving my goal.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere:

What long-nosed bats can teach us about teamwork

I often blog about what the animal kingdom can teach us about teamwork – Canada geese, meerkats, crabs, ants and penguins have all come up in the past. So regular readers of the blog will not be surprised by today’s post about long-nosed bats. 🙂

LongnoseBatsLong-nosed bats, endemic to Central America, have a unique approach to discouraging predators. They feed primarily at night, so during the day they roost in a number of places, one of which is the surface of tree trunks. However, most trees are usually out in the open, so in daylight, the little bats can become very tempting morsels to predatory birds. Enter teamwork. Before settling down for the day’s nap, groups of eight to sixteen bats arrange themselves in a roughly vertical line, to take on the appearance of a long snake. When a hungry bird approaches hoping for a delicious delicacy, the bats’ defence mechanism is to individually move back and forth within the vertical formation to create the combined effect of a large snake about to strike. The cautious bird, vigilant of poisonous snake venom, flies off to find easier prey. Brilliant!

So what are the lessons here for leaders about teamwork? I see at least three. Continue reading

Is business networking difficult for you?

networkingThe benefits of business networking are invaluable. When you meet new people, you learn interesting ideas, build relationships outside your immediate circle, and create an environment that cultivates new opportunities. But, many people, particularly those who consider themselves introverts, find initiating conversations with strangers to be awkward and uncomfortable. In the past, I’ve addressed this in several posts including this one: Introverts can be great networkers too! Here are three more ideas to help get the dialogue going. Continue reading

How to keep your best people? Support work-life balance

For the past two weeks, I’ve been doing a series of blog posts on what leaders can do to stop their best people from walking out the door. Here’s one final idea in this series – support work-life balance.

WorkLifeBalanceWhen organizations and their leaders support work-life balance, what they’re really doing is recognizing that employees have important family and extraprofessional obligations that compete with their workplace commitments.   Whether it is dependent care leave, childcare subsidies, eldercare programs, counseling and referral, or flexible working hours, these values allow people to strike a more meaningful and potentially less stressful balance between obligations at the workplace and obligations at home. And this matters! Companies that support and truly live and breathe work-life balance deeply engage their employees. In fact, the research has shown that employees will accept slightly lower than average salaries in order to achieve work-life balance! Continue reading

How to keep your best people? – create a fun workplace filled with laughter

Cheerful colleagues around laptop working together in bright offContinuing with our series on how to stop your best people from walking on the door, today’s suggestion is to create a fun workplace filled with laughter. The research shows that there is a direct correlation between workplace fun, productivity and employee retention. People who have fun at work want to come to work and want to stay at work. So as a leader, consciously plan to create opportunities for fun. When things get busy, fun falls by the wayside, so it’s important to keep it front and centre in your mind. When you look at the research as to what constitutes “fun”, (not surprisingly perhaps) food tends to top the list. Whether it’s going out for a meal; having a potluck lunch or dinner; celebrating employees’ birthdays by bringing in cake and ice cream; bringing in pizza, sandwiches or donuts, the research shows that culinary delights are clearly a way that people have fun and bond together. But it is more than just food that makes the top ten fun list! Fun contests, events and outings also rank high. Continue reading

How to keep your best people? Open the lines of communication

bigstock-Two-People-Having-A-Conversati-43044697Last week I started the second wave of a series of blog posts on what it takes to stop your best people from jumping ship. Today’s suggestion: open the lines of communication. By that I mean two-way communication, a dialogue, frequent conversations, easy and fluid movement of information in both directions. Communication must be a two-way street because by definition, it needs to include listening and speaking, ideally 50% of each.

So actively solicit input and listen to what your people have to say. Nobody knows what’s going on (and how to fix it) better than those who are doing it. Continue reading

How to keep your best people? Get to know them personally

In October, I started a short series on the blog on specific things that leaders can do to keep their best people from walking out the door. My posts on giving sincere praise often, buffering staff from bureaucracy, and paying people fairly were well received, so I thought it would be worthwhile adding to this list. So today, and for the next three posts, I am going to offer up four more ideas to prevent your top-notch employees from jumping ship and heading over to the competition. Today’s suggestion: get to know your people personally.

CoffeeMeetingNow I’m not proposing that you should become best friends with your staff, but I am suggesting that you should get to know them at more than just a superficial level. Who are your employees … really? What drives and motivates them, what makes them get up in the morning and excites them about coming to work? What are their goals and aspirations, what is the legacy they want to leave? Continue reading

Leadership training events in Edmonton in early December

CPABack in September, I announced the series of “open enrollment” full-day leadership training programs in Edmonton and Calgary that I am delivering in partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) from now until March 2016. Three of those events took place just over two weeks ago at the end of October in Edmonton … and they were fabulous (even if I do say so myself 🙂 ). Well, there are two more events coming up this year, and they’re both in Edmonton as well.

So … if you live in or near Edmonton AB, don’t miss this opportunity to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development at a very reasonable cost, and a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors. Remember … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register. If you work in a smaller organization that normally doesn’t have the budget to conduct onsite leadership training programs, then don’t miss this cost-effective opportunity to get what you need. Click on any program link for further information or to register directly at the CPA Alberta site. You will need to create a secure account on their system in order to register, a very quick and easy process.

And as always, let me know if you’re planning on joining me for any of these upcoming events. That way I know to look forward to seeing you there!

Don’t multitask, be present when it comes to employee interactions

Back in March 2013, I wrote a blog post titled Focus on the present in order to achieve big things in the future. In it I talked about how not to let current short-term challenges get in the way of future long-term goals. Today’s blog post takes a slightly different tack on the word “present” – specifically that it’s important to BE PRESENT in order to maximize productivity and team performance. Let me explain.

Female architect using tablet computer, looking awayYou’ve done it (we all have) – glanced at your email while talking to one of your employees. Or shuffled through papers on your desk while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with one of your staff. Stop. Not only is it not working, but you’re also doing more damage than good. You may think that you’re being productive by doing two things at the same time, but the truth is that you’re doing neither well. Not only that, and perhaps more importantly, you’re jeopardizing your relationship with your staff. You may not intend to do so, but your inattentiveness is disrespectful to the very people who ensure your department’s success. Instead, choose to be present. Continue reading