Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2016

To make the sale, show value to your buyer

What does it take to make the sale?  I’ve always believed that if you want people to buy — buy your product, or your service, or even you — then you need to show them, clearly, in brilliant technicolour, the compelling value that you have to offer.  Which means that you do whatever it takes to help them see, first-hand, what it is that you or your product or your service does to meet their needs or make their lives easier.  If you want to make the sale to me, then you need to show me what value I receive.  Yet I come across so many people who don’t get this!  A few years ago, I blogged about the leasing agent to tried (unsuccessfully) to get me to rent an apartment without letting me see it.  She was too lazy to even let me see the inside of an apartment that she wanted me to lease; apparently the photos she posted on the Internet should have been sufficient.

She wanted me to buy without telling me what I was going to receive!

ETA words in thought cloud over man or person thinking of estimaWell a few weeks ago, I came across a similar situation, this time with Dell, the computer folks.  My hard drive failed (a story in itself) and in order to restore my system we had to contact Dell to get them to send the USB recovery key.

“It will cost $27” said the unhelpful lady on the phone.

“Okay, when can I expect to receive it?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you until you pay for it.”

“If I can’t get it in a couple of day, tops, then I’ll go in another direction.  So I need to know the expected delivery date in order to make my decision as to whether to get it or not” Continue reading

The terrible boss criticizes in front of others

The terrible boss chastises in public

Last week I blogged about one of the common traits of terrible bosses – that they are micro-managers.  Today, ending our short series on this subject, I want to cover one more widespread characteristic of the terrible boss – s/he tells you off in front of others.

Terrible bosses scold in public

There is only one thing more disheartening than being criticized by someone in authority, and that is being criticized in front of an audience, particularly when that audience is the people you work with.  But this is something that terrible bosses do regularly.  You see, from their perspective, it is a way to control by fear, and quite frankly, they do it often because it is effective.  If they can control you and get you to do what they want, AND build up their already low self-esteem in the process, why shouldn’t they?

Sadly though, even though it may work in the short-term, they aren’t building relationships for the long-term.  Continue reading

The horrible boss is a micro-manager

Continuing in our revived series on the characteristics of the boss from hell, here is one more trait common to the horrible boss -– s/he micro-manages you!

Micro-managers make horrible bosses!

The horrible boss from hell micro-manages

The “micro-manager” horrible boss gets involved in the minutiae of your job and re-does everything you do.  He questions your every move and never lets you complete anything on your own.  Working for a micro-manager is not only maddening, it’s wearisome and demoralizing.  It demonstrates lack of trust, and causes you to question your ability to make decisions.

Which is, by the way, exactly what the horrible boss wants.  If you are unable to make decisions and feel the need to get approval for every small task, then to the micro-manager, it feels like he is in control.   And, oh yeah, let’s not forget, if the outcome of any decision is not up to scratch, then it will undeniably be because you have him bad information.  Either way, it’s a difficult place to spend your work day. Continue reading

The horrible boss takes credit for your work

Horrible boss, also known as the boss from hell!

A few weeks ago, I started a short series of blog posts about the traits that characterize “the boss from hell” – you know, the horrible boss who you dislike working for so intensely that you’d do just about anything not to come into work.  Previously, I blogged about how the horrible boss not only treats employees like they’re not people, but also overworks them, and constantly criticizes them.  This short series got so much attention (apparently a lot of you either work for, or previously worked with a horrible boss!) that I figured I’d continue the series, based partly on some of your comments in the emails I received on this subject.  Today’s common characteristic of the boss from hell? – they take credit for your work.

The horrible boss takes credit for your work

Bosses from hell take their employees’ work and pass it off as their own.  Now it’s true that as a manager, you can rightly take credit for the work that comes out of your department.  But it’s when you take credit for the accomplishments AND do not acknowledge the specific people who actually did the work that you cross over the line into the “horrible boss” category.  Continue reading

16 ways to motivate your people without spending money

Money isn’t a motivator.  There, I said it!  But don’t just take my word for it.  In my latest column for – 16 Ways to Motivate Your People Without Spending Money – I not only give you the research that backs up this statement, but I also offer sixteen zero- or low-cost ideas to reward your employees on a shoestring budget.

You need to pay people fairly but …

Sure, you need to pay your people, and pay them fairly—you’re not going to accomplish much if your staff feel like their compensation doesn’t reflect the fair market value of their work. But while lack of money can be a de-motivator, cash alone won’t make employees do their best.


So what low-cost motivation ideas do you have to add?  What are some of the things you do to inspire, encourage, and motivate your people to high performance?  Would love to hear what works for you.  Please share by commenting below.

P.S. I am now in my second year as a regular contributor to’s panel of business experts. You can find links to my previous columns on their site. For your information, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, and their list of columnists reads like the Who’s Who of Canadian business, so I am honoured to be in such distinguished company.

What can goldfish teach us about creating a positive working environment?

Goldfish in aquarium isolated on white background.

Creating a positive working environment is key if you want your department or organization to reach new heights and accomplishments.  And trust in the workplace is a critical component.  But a positive working environment comes from something much more basic and fundamental.  Let me explain.

Did you know that goldfish only grow to the size of their enclosure?

Which is ironic, given that goldfish are actually indeterminate growers, which means that unlike humans, they have the ability to grow until they die.  In fact, depending on the breed, goldfish can grow to a maximum of 4 to18 inches!  But most of them don’t.  They don’t because they are restricted, both by tank size, and the poor quality of their water.  Small aquariums and fishbowls usually have little or no filtration, and often infrequent water changes; as a result, the water quality is typically poor, and the goldfish’s growth is stunted.  So they remain, underdeveloped and constricted, held back from reaching their full potential.

The leader sets the tone

Which takes me to the leader’s role in the workplace.  Continue reading

Leadership training events in Edmonton this month

CPALast month, I blogged about how excited I am to be partnering with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) to deliver a series of “open enrollment” full-day leadership training programs in Edmonton and Calgary from now until March 2017. Well, the first two events are coming up at the end of the month! 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.

You don’t have to be a CPA member, this is open enrollment

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 bring in onsite leadership training programs, then don’t miss this cost-effective opportunity to get what you need. Click on any program link above 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.

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!

The horrible boss never praises, only criticizes

Devil businesslady with a megaphone screemingat another businessladiesLast week I started a short series on horrible bosses (motivated by a recent re-watch of the movie The Devil Wears Prada) in which I began to verbalize the common traits that apply to the boss from hell.  So far, we have two – hell-ish bosses don’t see their employees as real people (only pawns on a chessboard), and they overwork them, sometimes to the point of loss in productivity.  Today I have yet another common characteristic of the horrible boss to add to the list – they only recognize bad performance, never good, or god forbid, exceptional!

Quick to criticize, but slow (if at all) to praise

These are the managers who are stridently vocal when things go wrong.  And it usually doesn’t take much to set the horrible boss off on a tirade.  The smallest slip-up, the tiniest error, the marginal delay, all get them riled up and into a tizzy.  They are known to loudly berate and belittle, often with an audience.  In many ways, it’s as if the temper tantrum builds up their self-esteem.  Continue reading