Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: January 2017

Money as a motivator (P.S. It’s not!)

Exciting news – my first column for 2017 in The Globe & Mail‘s Leadership Lab series just got published this morning!!  It’s about money as a motivator, which continues to be a subject of some controversy.  And in case you’re wondering about my point of view, it’s unequivocally that it’s not!   In Why money is not an employee motivator, I make the case for why, and perhaps more importantly and practically, I tell you what it means to you, a leader, so that you can inspire your people towards excellence in the workplace.


Now, my hope, as always, is that this will give you food for thought and spark a dialogue amongst leaders everywhere, ideally in agreement with my point of view.  But even if you don’t agree with me, I’d like to hear what you think and what your experiences are.  If you can, please share your perspectives directly on the The Globe‘s site since your opinion will get a much wider audience there.  But I’m always open to hearing from you directly as well, so you can drop me an email or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks) with your thoughts too.

Please help get the word out!

And one last thing — do me a 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 conversations started, so the more people who respond to this column means deeper and extended dialogue, which is always a good thing!  In advance, please accept my thanks for your help.

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:

Take advantage of cumulative experience

The Aztecs knew the power of cumulative experienceThirteen years ago (long before this blog even came into existence), I wrote a Mega Minute titled Learn From the Aztecs in which I outlined the “cumulative experience” approach taken by these ancient people in building their glorious city of Teotihuacan.  The original settlement of this ancient metropolis, located near present-day Mexico City, began in 200 B.C.  At its peak in 600 A.D., it was home to approximately 200,000 people, making it one of the old world’s largest cities, with an urban core covering some twenty square kilometers.  However, about 650 A.D., for reasons unknown, the city was abandoned.

When the Aztecs arrived, it was already a ruin

By the time the Aztecs arrived on the scene in 13th century, the area was already a little more than an ancient ruin.  The Aztecs wished to construct Teotihuacan, their Place of Gods, and rather than destroying what was already there and starting from scratch, they took the existing structures and used them as foundations upon which to build even greater temples and palaces.  Continue reading

When you offer to help, you enhance your relationship with your manager

Last week, in my second post in my recent ongoing series about how to improve your working relationship with your manager, I gave you a “don’t” – don’t correct your boss in front of others.  Today, I want to cover one last (at least for now) piece of advice in this series – look for ways to help.

Offer to help

Build a stronger relationship with your managerAsk your manager if she needs assistance with any project or initiative she has on the go.  Many bosses have very full plates, and like most of us, they’re not always good about asking for help.  But when you offer, when you ask if you can lend a hand, your swamped manager will often gratefully accept.  Sure, you’ve likely got enough to do already, but when you show a willingness to push beyond the day-to-day and take on more than your core responsibilities, you’re sending a very positive message about yourself.  And it’s a message that carries a great deal of weight when it comes to advancement opportunities. Continue reading

If you want a stronger relationship with your manager, don’t correct him in front of others

Earlier this week, I resurrected a topic that I’ve covered in the past, specifically some ideas on how to build a stronger working relationship with your manager.  Monday’s post was about putting yourself in the boss’s shoes.

Don’t correct your boss in front of others

Building a better working relationship with your manager

Today is a “don’t” – something you should never do – which is, correct your boss in front of others.  Now I’m not saying that your manager is always right (that’s simply not possible!), nor am I saying that you shouldn’t correct him; what I am saying is choose the time and place to advise him of his error.  And the time and place is always later, privately.

Going back to Monday’s post for a moment, put yourself in the boss’s shoes.  It can be embarrassing to be corrected by a subordinate (or for that matter anyone) in front of other people.  This is true even if what you are saying is a legitimate correction.  Continue reading

Build a better working relationship with your manager by putting yourself in his shoes

Last year I did a series of three posts on the blog about specific actions you could take to build a stronger working relationship with your manager.  A recent conversation with two staff members at a client organization brought this topic to the top of my mind again, so I thought it was time to add three more to the list.

Put yourself in your manager’s shoes

Build a better relationship with your manager

Today’s tip – when dealing with a particular issue, put yourself in your boss’s shoes.  See things from his perspective.  What is his concern or challenge with the proposed course of action?  What alternatives or solutions can you offer that will mitigate the negative impact?  Anticipate the questions that your manager might ask and make sure you have thoughtful answers that demonstrate that your objectives mirror his.  Do this often enough and you’ll be perceived as a reliable go-to person on the team.

Your relationship with your manager will improve if you understand his pressures

In much the same way, when your supervisor or manager does or says something that you think doesn’t make any sense, put yourself in her shoes.  Continue reading

An unexpected lesson from a sea otter

A couple of weeks ago, on my morning walk along Victoria’s Inner Harbour walkway, I was very fortunate to observe a sea otter dive down into the ocean to catch a crab and then swim up to the shore to eat it, approximately 15 feet away from where I was standing. I caught about 30 seconds of this amazing encounter on video which I’ve posted below.

This infrequent experience was exciting in itself, but what I found particularly interesting was that the sea otter took just a couple of bites of the crab, leaving the majority of the carcass behind on the rocks as he swam away. Why didn’t he finish this meal that he worked so hard to obtain? Was it because it didn’t taste very good? Or was there a more delicious morsel he spotted just on the other side of the rock? Maybe it was because he saw us watching quietly nearby. Or perhaps it was because the seagulls were already circling and he wanted to share his bounty (or couldn’t be bothered to fight them off). Continue reading

A social media success story that leaders can learn from

socialmediaI have long advocated that leaders need to stay abreast of evolving technology, and tuned to the impact of social media in today’s workplaces.  Something interesting happened last week that brought this message home to me, loud and clear, yet again.

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for employers and employees

A young professional male I know was laid off from his job over a year ago due to the current economic recession occurring in Alberta.  For over a year, he has been actively seeking new employment, and while he was getting at least a few interviews in the early days of his job search, recently even those have trickled down to almost nothing.  That is until last week.  He received a message through LinkedIn (the widely-used social media platform that is primarily business and employment-focused) from someone asking if he was still looking for work, and if he could come into an interview the next day.  Of course he agreed.  But he thought it was odd that this was not an organization that he had reached out to himself, or for that matter one that he had even come across in his months of job search.  Continue reading

Open-enrollment leadership training events in Calgary this month

CPALast fall, I announced an exciting partnership 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.  The Calgary dates are scheduled to kick off at the end of this month with two programs:

Open-enrollment means you don’t have to be a CPA member to attend

These one-day sessions are open-enrollment, which means that anyone from any organization can attend … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register. If you work in a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget to conduct an onsite leadership training program, this is your chance to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development! These one-day sessions are very reasonably priced at a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors, and if you register early, you can get even more savings.  Add in a continental breakfast and lunch, and me as the leader … how could things get any better?  🙂 Continue reading