Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: March 2017

As a new manager, expect to play the role of “buffer”

Continuing in our ongoing series what a new manager should expect to do differently in the new role, tip #6 is to recognize and understand that you will need to act as a “buffer”.

You will need to be a “buffer”

Accept that, in your role as a supervisor, you will need to be a “buffer”.  You will need to be a buffer – between your staff and your manager.  Continue reading

Creating happier workplaces – what the data definitively tells us

bigstock-147197099I was reminded last week of the importance of creating positive happier workplaces with the release of the 2017 World Happiness report, published to coincide with the United Nation’s International Day of Happiness.  Given that most people spend a large percentage of their lives working, it’s not surprising that there is an entire chapter in this report devoted to the relationship between work and happiness.  The complete report is 178 pages long and can be found at the link above, but in today’s post I thought I’d share some of the highlights about happier workplaces from the “Happiness at Work” chapter.

The data that this report is based on comes from reliable sources and large sample sizes; the authors draw largely upon the Gallup World Poll, which has been surveying people in over 150 countries around the world since 2006.  The fundamental question being asked is what and how do people’s working lives drive their well-being, or what does it take to create happier workplaces.  Continue reading

Be prepared if you’re a new supervisor – most problems will no longer have quick solutions

Last week I offered up tip #4 in our ongoing series about the mental transition that is critical to be successful as a new supervisor.  Continuing in this series, here is tip #5: understand that, as a new supervisor, your problems and issues will tend to be the type that don’t offer quick solutions.

Your problems become more long-term and ongoing

In last week’s video in this series, I explained how once you are in a new supervisor position, your key resources are now your employees.  This fact leads right into another reality.  Primarily because your key resources are your people, your problems as a supervisor become more long-term and ongoing.

You see, people-issues don’t often have quick and easy solutions.  Continue reading

Yea-sayer or nay-sayer – what’s your tendency?

Thumbs UpThere are some people who look for problems, and some who look for solutions.  I call the former nay-sayers, and the latter yea-sayers.  Which one are you?  Before you answer, let me explain.

In the workplace, each one of us routinely encounters problems – a product or process isn’t working quite the way it should, or no longer meets the stated need, a new initiative requires a different way of thinking or of doing things, or you’re trying to accomplish a stretch goal.  Whatever the situation, we often have to count on others for information, assistance or know-how.  So we pose the problem, often in the form of a question.  Some people immediately respond with “it can’t be done”, frequently followed by nothing … that’s right, end of discussion, no further conversation.  These are nay-sayers.  Yea-sayers on the other hand Continue reading

Tip #4 for the new supervisor – it’s all about the people!

A few weeks ago, I started a short series about how the skills needed as a new supervisor are very different from those that were needed in your previous role as an individual contributor.  When you take on the role of supervisor for the first time, it’s important to recognize that the change in your job title also MUST be accompanied by a shift in how you think.  It’s not the same job with a few minor changes, it’s a completely different occupation.  If you fall into the trap of thinking that the skills and behaviours that have made you successful in the past will make you successful in the future, you are setting yourself up for failure as a new supervisor.

The first three tips I offered got a very positive response, so I thought it would be useful to add to this series.  Starting today, and over the next three weeks, I’ll offer up an additional tip on how to successfully make the switch into a supervisory role.  Today’s tip: it’s all about the people!

Your key resources are your people!

Consider this big change: your key resources are no longer your technical knowledge, or your specialized equipment, or even your top-notch analytical skills.  Continue reading

When it comes to successfully solving problems in the workplace, molten rock might offer a clue!

As leaders, our days are often about solving problems, usually one after the other.  For that reason, this topic of solving problems comes up often on the blog.  In fact, my last post on this subject was exactly month ago (Making risky decisions: a simplified approach).  Today’s post is on this very subject, but my insight on an approach to solving problems came from an unexpected source.

What an adventure!

Last month I had the opportunity to do something very few people are fortunate enough to do – I was able to hike out (six miles over some of our planet’s most punishing terrain, but that’s not the fortunate part!) to the edge of an active lava flow on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and stand less than 20 feet away watching the molten rock slink and slither its way across the blistering earth.  Eventually this hot rock makes its way to the ocean, creating new shoreline hour by hour, day by day.   I filmed about 45 seconds of this experience on my iPhone, and you can see the video with my brief audio commentary below:

It was exhilarating to watch the raw power of the earth, up close and personal, and I found that 90 fascinating minutes fled by in what seemed like seconds.  Once I got over the initial elation of the experience though, I noticed that the flow was continuously changing course.  Continue reading

Who should you have by your side?

stephaniestaplesStephanie Staples is a recovering burnout nurse and a serial entrepreneur who has founded three businesses.  As she says, 🙂 two of those were successful, and one a nightmare … but you can’t win them all! She is a speaker, radio host and consultant, and I am proud to also call her my professional colleague and friend.  Today she guests on the blog, with a wonderful metaphor about who you should have by your side, as part of your personal support structure, to help you achieve great things in your life and career.

Who’s in your Front Seat – and Who should be in the Back?

No man is an island, it takes a village to raise a child, we can’t go it alone … All these clichés to say we need people to get through this crazy thing called life. 

Not just any people though – top-quality people.  Some people call it their dream team, their empowerment team or their board of directors – I call it front seat passengers.  The special people we want to ride with us on this journey of life and we want them in the front seat – helping us navigate, advising us as necessary, encouraging us when we are not sure and cheering for us when we avoid an accident or make a great move.  Some people are in the front seat of our cars because they are family, some are there because they have been there for a long, long time, some are there because they put themselves there. Still others are there out of habit, obligation, fear or plain laziness on our part to get them out. Continue reading

Tip #3 for the first-time supervisor – watch out for the push-pull reality!

For the last two weeks, I have been posting video blogs about the challenges that come with first-time supervisory roles.  Here is a third one: the first-time supervisor often experiences something that I call the push-pull reality of leadership.  The push-pull reality of leadership is when you get pushed and pulled in different directions.

The push-pull reality

As a supervisor or manager, you will get “pushed” into roles that you may either not be comfortable with, or quite frankly may not even have the skills to do.  For example, you may need to have a discussion with an employee about tardiness at work, or even worse, personal hygiene or body odour.  Now, even for the most experienced managers, this discussion is not an easy one, and if you’re a new leader, it’s a giant step outside your comfort zone.  Continue reading