Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: May 2015

“Learning by doing” outshines “teaching”

As a leader, you know that employee training is important. And for most people, training translates to “teaching” – a structured or unstructured process to convey information from an expert who knows to those who don’t. But as someone who has worked for years to help people develop and hone their leadership skills, I can tell you that the best training is not “teaching”, it’s “learning”; in fact, it’s “learning by watching” and “learning by doing”. I know this sounds like I’m splitting hairs, so let me explain. Actually, instead of trying to tell you, why don’t I show you? … Rather, why don’t I let this very illustrative video do it for me …

Watching, and learning by doing, means that people learn how to think. They understand the logic; they comprehend not only the how and the what of their actions, but also the why. And when employees grasp the why, they are better able to deal with things that are outside the norm; if you understand the reasoning, you then GET the implications of taking atypical actions. Continue reading

Leadership from afar – four keys to making long-distance leadership work

Human Resources And CRMThe last time I brought up the subject of virtual leadership on the blog was earlier this year in March when I penned Long-distance leadership? Insist that complaints be accompanied by recommended solutions. The Remote Leadership Institute recently reprinted one of my articles – Managing Virtual Teams: Four Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Long-distance Leadership – at their website, and their interest made me think that it is worth bringing up this very relevant topic again. In today’s workplaces, remote workers are more the norm than the exception. Some people work at home for one day a month or a week, others full-time, but it’s not just working from home that creates off-site employees. Other staff are virtual because they are geographically remote from their bosses, and salespeople who operate mainly out of their vehicles are working long-distance as well. It’s pretty much a given that virtual leadership is a necessary skill for leaders in today’s world of business. Continue reading

What does it take to become more persuasive?

Okay, I’m super pumped! Today marks my first column for, the online version of Profit Magazine, a Canadian business magazine aimed at entrepreneurs, focusing on how to find opportunity and seize it, management practices, case studies and access to peer groups. Today’s column is titled How to become a persuasive triple-threat and explores what it takes to get more people to buy your ideas.

ProfitGuide Continue reading

Alberta volunteers and volunteer leaders, DO NOT miss this!

PrintOn June 18-20, over 1,000 front-line Alberta volunteers; volunteer managers; fundraisers; staff, board and committee members from a variety of not-for-profit organizations will gather in Edmonton, Alberta. Their mission: not only to learn from the best, but to also celebrate the unique and valuable service they provide to those in our society who need it the most. Yes, Alberta’s much-admired Vitalize Provincial Volunteer Sector conference is on once again.

This year I am excited to be part of the conference again after a five-year hiatus. I’ll be presenting two fast-paced 90-minute workshops on Friday June 19 – Generations Exposed! Unexpected Insights Into the People You Work With and Turtle training for the Hare: Why slow ‘n’ steady trumps Fast ‘n’ Furious.

Join me! If you live in Alberta and you are (or work with) a volunteer(s) in ANY capacity, then you really do need to attend this top-notch affair. This premier event is funded by Alberta Culture and Tourism so the registration fee is a bargain at $195 for the ENTIRE three days! Continue reading

Does the wisdom of Segal’s Law help or hinder decision making?

WatchesSegal’s law: A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

Segal’s Law is a humorous way of addressing the pitfalls that come from amassing too much information in advance of making a decision. In a nutshell, it suggests that the more data you obtain, the greater the likelihood that it will conflict with what you already know, thus complicating the process. No doubt, at some point, as a leader, you’ve found yourself in a similar situation.

But where is the line between too much and too little information? At what point do you have enough for effective decision making?  Continue reading

Take the toxins out of office gossip

My newest column in The Globe & Mail‘s Leadership Lab series hit cyberspace this morning.

Take the toxins out of office gossip

is about how leaders need to make it unequivocally clear that negative gossip about others is never acceptable in the workplace. There IS a difference between trivial banter and negative gossip, and it’s up to leaders to establish a zero-tolerance policy, AND model the behaviour they expect from others. Click on the link above for a further explanation.


I am now in my second year of writing regular columns for The Globe‘s Report on Business, and I am so excited and thankful that they continue to generate so much interest and dialogue. It’s only when we talk to one another about the issues that we face that we become even better leaders than we already are. So please share your thoughts; I’m eagerly looking forward to your reactions and perspectives. Add your viewpoint to The Globe‘s website, or if you wish, respond on our blog, drop me an email or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks).

And please do me one more favour – help me get the word out … pass the link along to your staff and colleagues. I’d love to hear their perspectives – whether they agree or disagree – as well!

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:

The “red apron” – a great example of creative problem solving

Earlier last summer, I blogged about What lies at the root of innovation and creativity? and highlighted the two cognitive factors that contribute significantly to creativity – preparation and goal-setting. I have emphasized these two factors in many many blog posts both before and since then. But today, prompted by a recent illustrative example relayed to me by a client, I want to dig a little deeper in the practical aspects of creative problem solving. Let me share the story with you first.

Happy young woman wearing apronMy client’s organization owns and manages a large number of long-term care centres, facilities where (mainly elderly) residents live full-time. Because of their age and related ailments, many of the residents take a large number of medications with their meals, all of which are dispensed by a staff member at their individual dining spots at each meal. Not surprisingly, this detailed task requires attention and focus by the staff member since the outcomes of errors can be serious or even fatal. The challenge is that the person dispensing the medications is constantly interrupted – by people asking for more soup, or napkins, or salt; or by residents’ family members needing assistance; or by other care workers calling for a helping hand. All of which was creating circumstances which could lead to dire consequences. So the team put on their creative problem solving hats and came up with a very imaginative (and visible) solution. The medication dispenser now wears a red apron. The rule is … the person wearing the red apron cannot be interrupted. Continue reading