Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2017

Hire for attitude, not skills

hire for attitudeWhen it comes to recruiting employees, I always say that I would much rather hire for attitude rather than for skills.  You see, for the most part, skills are teachable … but a positive can-do attitude is either there or not.  Now of course, I’m not suggesting that you completely ignore a required base-level of skills – if you need an accountant or a lawyer or a doctor, you obviously need someone who’s been accredited as such.  But I am saying that, as a hiring manager, you will often face the situation where you’ve got two or three individuals who have similar educational certifications, and you’re wavering between them.  One person may have more relevant work experience, but another has a more constructive and optimistic attitude.  In this circumstance, always hire for attitude.  Always pick the individual who has the upbeat outlook with the glass-is-half-full point of view.  Here’s why.

Here’s why you should hire for attitude. Continue reading

Strategy #2 for effectively leading your virtual team

Last week I started a new video series on leading a virtual team and my first tip was to set office hours, specific blocks of time in your calendar when your team members could call and expect to get your “live” on the phone.  Today’s strategy to get the highest level of performance from your virtual team members is an expansion of last week’s idea.

Schedule one-on-ones

Schedule weekly one-on-ones.  Give each member of your virtual team one full hour every week on your calendar for a one-on-one discussion.  Just you and the employee, either on the phone or on a video call.  This one hour allows both you and your employee to cover a variety of topics,.  You can really talk through issues that don’t get discussed simply because they don’t see you at the office every day.

And one very important thing: NEVER cancel a one-on-one.  Continue reading

Leadership lessons from the United Airlines debacle (or how not to destroy your brand overnight)

Last week I blogged about the immediate aftermath of United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz’ (lack of) leadership.  This following the upsetting video that surfaced the night of April 9th, showing the violent removal of a passenger from an aircraft.  My column in both the online and print editions of today’s Globe and Mail continues on this very topic.  This unfortunate United Airlines incident is destined to become a textbook case of how a leader should not act in a state of crisis (particularly in the age of the Internet).  In today’s column – Lessons from the United Airlines debacle – published in this morning’s print and online editions, I outline five leadership lessons that any CEO can take to heart.   In the interest of not destroying your brand overnight, these five things that are well worth considering and internalizing so as not to find yourself in a similar shaky scenario at any point in the future.

Five lessons that every leader should internalize

This is a topic that has been fodder for many a water cooler and coffee station conversation for the last 1-½ weeks with opinions that have ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other.  You know my point of view, but I’m interested in yours.  What could Munoz have done differently to manage this situation more effectively?  With the benefit of hindsight, what other lessons would leaders take away from this unfortunate situation?  Your comments welcome.

If you have a virtual team, set “office hours”

It’s been a long time since I’ve discussed the challenges that are inherent in leading a virtual team.  In fact, my most recent post on this subject was Leadership from afar – four keys to making long-distance leadership work back in 2015!  Which is ironic considering that today there are even more employees working offsite and remotely than there were two years ago.  Which means that leading a virtual team is far more complex than it’s ever been.  If you have staff that work in other buildings, out of their home offices, or even out of their vehicles while on the road, the challenges of leadership start to multiply and compound.  Add different time zones to the mix, and long-distance leadership of a virtual team begins to take on a life and personality of its own.  The reality: physical distance between you and your employees will make them feel increasingly isolated UNLESS you take deliberate and thoughtful steps to give your virtual team a greater degree of support and feedback.

So this is the inspiration behind my next series of short 2-minute video tips, starting today, and airing every week or so until I either run out of ideas, or sense that interest from you, dear readers, is waning.

Today’s tip: set “office hours”

Remember when you went to university or college and your professors would set office hours – specific times during the week when you would be guaranteed to find the professor in his/her office and available to talk to you.  Continue reading

Essential leadership lessons from the United Airlines public relations debacle

unitedlogoSo you’d have to be under a rock or in a dark cave some place to have missed the firestorm that is United Airlines which ignited sometime this past Sunday night.  After all, it’s not every day that an airline literally beats up its customer!  If you haven’t seen the video that accelerated into cyberspace (where have you been?), just Google it; you should find it within seconds.  There’s a lot of conversation about the circumstances leading up to this event, but one thing is clear.  United Airlines’ CEO, Oscar Munoz didn’t handle things well, and in today’s post, I’d like to focus on his apparent (lack of) leadership.  In this age of the Internet, there is example after example of the public relations nightmare that can fall out of a poorly-managed situation (heck, I remember the Papa John’s incident five years ago!), and unfortunately, United Airlines’ handling of this situation is destined to become a textbook case of how a leader should not act.  Let me give you a quick rundown, at least as of last night.

United Airline’s Mistake #1

When the videos of this regrettable event first hit the worldwide web late on Sunday night, Munoz issued a public statement on Monday, which went wrong from the very beginning.  His choice of words — “re-accommodate”, “inconvenienced” and “upsetting” — came across as tone-deaf in a situation that would have more aptly been described as terrible and horrible and shocking and distressing.


Source: View from the Wing

Blunder #2

Continue reading

An ageless folktale about dealing with adversity

hot water as a metaphor for adversityEvery so often, a conversation with an elderly relative reminds me of a story from Indian folklore that I heard when I was a child.  Recently, that happened again, this time on the topic of how one reacts or responds to adversity.  The story tells of a young person who was complaining to his grandmother about the challenges he was facing in his school and job – difficult assignments, tough professors, a demanding boss, not enough time to relax, and always, a seeming shortage of funds.

Her response: to place three pots of water on the stove

The grandmother responded by placing three pots of water on the stove.  When the water in each was boiling, she placed two potatoes in the first pot, two eggs in the second, and a scoop of tea leaves in the third.  About twenty minutes later, she pulled out the potatoes and eggs and placed them on a plate, and strained the water out of the tea leaves into a cup, and placed them all in front of the young man.  Puzzled, he looked up at her. Continue reading

Tip #7 to remember as a new manager – you will now be viewed differently by others

For several weeks now, I have been running a video tip series on what a new manager should know and watch out for when s/he makes the switch to a supervisory or management role.  Last week I talked about recognizing that you will have to play the role of “buffer”.  In my final (at least for now) post on this topic, today’s video talks about one final shift in thinking that a new manager should make: be aware that the people around you will view you differently.

You will now be viewed differently by others

When you get the title of supervisor or manager, the people around you experience a significant and major shift in job perception.  Continue reading

Grow your mind and develop your abilities

Stephanie Staples is my professional colleague, a good friend, and a past guest blogger right here on the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog.  And she also hosts Your Life Unlimited on CJOB 680 Radio AM, airing across Canada on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  I was very excited to be her guest on March 11 and 12.  We talked about strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities, based on my best-selling book Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell?

Listen to the show!

You can listen to the archived radio show here – my segment starts at about 14.45 mark.  If you don’t have the time to listen to the whole interview, you can still read about 17 strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities at this same link.  These 17 strategies are selected from the 171 strategies that are listed in my book.

grow your mind


Well, I’d love to hear your thoughtsI’ve used this lobster metaphor for a long time to illustrate and emphasize the overarching leadership themes of growth, change, transition, seizing opportunity, and continuous learning,  This is  both in the book of course, as well as in my signature keynote of the same name.  But I’m always excited and interested to hear about how this metaphor resonates with you (or not!).  Please add your comments below.