Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2018

Millennials, Xr’s, Boomers: Leadership & Succession Planning

succession planningI am excited to announce that the Vancouver Island Construction Association has invited me to participate in a special Open House on Wednesday May 16 at their offices in Victoria BC.

Millennials, Xr’s, Boomers: Leadership & Succession Planning

Here’s what you should be thinking about

In a 2-hour open discussion format, I’ll be sharing insights and best practices on millennial leadership, succession planning, knowledge transfer (and a whole lot of other subjects) based on my work with my clients across Canada, the US, and the world.  The construction industry in BC is facing a skilled labour shortage, compounded by the fact that young employees often don’t stick around long enough to develop any breadth of knowledge and experience.  Which creates a huge challenge for the companies in BC’s construction sector.  Continue reading

You are a role model – so walk the talk!

role modelAbout three years ago, I blogged about a very disturbing situation involving a Texas (so-called) veterinarian Kristen Lindsey and her now infamous cat kill.  As difficult as it was to write it, I knew it was important to do so, because I wanted to underscore a very important leadership message.  Which is: you are a role model. Whether you know it, whether you want it, people are watching you, and you have a standard of behaviour to uphold. It’s critically important as a leader to walk the talk.  If you want your employees to act and behave in a certain way, then you need to model that behaviour.  Well this fundamental leadership tenet came up in several discussions with client groups just in the past couple of weeks, so I felt it was worth addressing again today.

You are a role model (whether or not you want to be!)

It’s important as a leader to recognize that you are a role model, and therefore you need to be thoughtful about how you behave and act.  Here are some examples of scenarios described to me recently, where people just didn’t get how important this is: Continue reading

Want motivated employees? Don’t forget to thank their supporters

Today’s blog entry continues with our video series on what it takes to create motivated employees.  Two weeks ago I gave you a simple powerful strategy, yet one that is often forgotten – to say thank you.  Today’s tip is an extension of that idea.  Want motivated employees?  Say thank you to the employee’s support people.  And by support people, I mean their spouses and their families.

Say thank you to the employee’s support people

Saying thank you to an employee’s spouse and family is an important and effective way to show employees that you care. Let’s face it, the reality is that when employees go above and beyond, it usually affects their personal lives and thus their families. Saying thank you to an employee is effective (and that’s what I told you about in my last post in this series), but saying thank you to those who are impacted at home by the employee’s extra effort at work is absolutely brilliant!

It really works!

So let me give you a real-life first-person account of how powerful this strategy is.  Continue reading

What does it take to be recognized as a high-potential employee?

Last month, I told you all how excited I was to be one of the featured speakers at the Elevate Your Mind conference presented by the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) of Alberta in Edmonton at the Shaw Conference Centre on May 14, 2018.  This is an organization that I have partnered with for several years on a variety of learning events, so I am very excited that they are welcoming me back to “elevate
the skills of professionals in any stage of their career.  My session on May 14 is titled Are you a HiPo?, and I am looking forward to giving attendees specific high-energy and fast-paced ideas to get recognized as a high-potential employees in their organizations.

Registration is open now

Registration is open now, so if you’re thinking about attending, don’t delay!  This link will take you directly to the registration page.  Even though this event is organized by CPA Alberta, registration is open to anyone from any organization.  If you belong to a profession that requires ongoing professional education credits, then this may be a perfect (and fun!) way to get a head start on 2018’s requirements.  Here is a link to the Conference Agenda page, with additional links to more information.

Wondering what a HiPo is?

P.S. In case you’re wondering, HiPos are those employees who have been tagged as the Continue reading

It’s time for the next customer service revolution

Customer satisfaction and customer service has been on my mind lately, primarily because I have experienced two situations first-hand recently in which two banks just didn’t get it!  Last November, I had an unfortunate interaction with ScotiaBank, and just earlier this month I blogged about how an employee at the Royal Bank couldn’t grasp the big picture.  Which got me musing about how customer service has changed significantly in just the last forty years, making it a moving target for those who aspire to exceptional levels.  When it came time to pen my regular column for The Globe and Mail, I guess it’s not very surprising then that I ended up writing about customer service. My column in this morning’s edition challenges you to envision three progressive possibilities that will ensure that your organization is at a significant competitive advantage.  You can read it here:

Artificial intelligence is the next revolution in customer service

customer service

 

Customer service has undergone at least two significant revolutions in the last forty years.  First with the invention of the 1-800 toll-free number, and then with the pervasive use of email.  Despite the significance of each of these two innovations, the underlying premise in customer service has always been to fix an issue identified by the buyer.  But it is 2018, so it is time to finally change that paradigm!  It’s time to fix the problem before your customer tells you about it.  The technology to power this transformation exists; it is called artificial intelligence, or AI.  And many companies have already harnessed its potential.

So, are you keeping up?  Or are you the company that makes your customers wait for hours on the phone for an issue to be resolved, or days for a response to an email query?  I would love to hear your perspectives on which organizations are ahead of the curve, and which are seriously far behind.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

Employee motivation 101: Say thank you!

Employee motivation tip #8 was to eat together.  In our continuing series of video blogs on this topic, here is another easy tip on increasing employee motivation on your team.

Say thank you!

Ground-breaking research on employee motivation conducted by Dr. Elton Mayo in the 1930’s gave rise to the Hawthorne Effect.  In essence, the Hawthorne Effect describes a fundamental concept that may seem obvious to us today: that workplaces are social environments and people thrive in positive and respectful surroundings.  And the most (glaringly) obvious way to create a positive and respectful work environment is to say thank you!

You can’t just think it, you have to say it!

It’s what our mothers taught us years ago, and it’s as golden now as it was back then.  Now the important word here is “say”, as in verbalize it, put it into words, don’t just think it, say it.  And say it to the employee, not to others!  Continue reading

What’s stopping you from moving forward?

As a leader, you no doubt have a multitude of issues to deal with – and what usually happens is that the crises get dealt with, but often everything else seems to drag on.  Thus, it’s useful to periodically ask yourself the question – what’s stopping you from moving forward?  Whether it’s streamlining an outdated work process, dealing with an ongoing interpersonal conflict, or getting that big project on your to-do list started, what is preventing you from moving forward?  I have a metaphoric perspective to offer.

Is your kayak moving forward?

moving forwardHere in the northern hemisphere, as the days get longer and the mercury begins to claw its way up out of the negative digits, collective minds turn to spring and upcoming warm-weather leisure activities.  I am no exception as I think longingly of my favourite watersport – kayaking.

Sitting low to the water at dawn, legs outstretched, the blades of my paddle slicing through the water like a knife through butter, moving almost silently across the vast expanse of the calm harbour, the stillness broken only by the rhythmic gentle sound of the oars and an occasional call of a seabird.  For me, the image evokes both serenity and triumph.  Serenity because kayaking gives me time to think.  And triumph because several miles of kayaking makes me feel like I’ve gotten a good workout.  But the picture-perfect scene quickly shatters …. when I realize that my kayak is still tied to the dock!

What is your workplace equivalent?

Sure, laugh if you must; I did too (well, much later) when it happened to me.  But I bring it up to make a very specific point.  Continue reading

Employee motivation can be as simple as eating together!

Last week’s tip on employee motivation was to tell people why.  Today’s strategy: eat together.  Food is a very effective motivator!

Eat together

Yes, I know, this sounds really simple, but it is a very powerful tool in your employee motivation toolkit.  Now don’t just take my word for it, this is actually backed up by study after study in employee motivation research.  In fact, one landmark 2005 study that was conducted by Peluchette and Karl in the health-care industry is particularly illustrative and indicative of the overall research.  In this study, Doctors Peluchette and Karl developed the top ten list of workplace activities that employees consider to be fun and contributing to employee motivation.  The top three had to do with food! Continue reading

Customer loyalty – easy to lose, but just as easy to keep

Just a few months ago, I blogged about a specific situation I experienced where a few ill-chosen words by a bank manager were able to destroy long-term customer loyalty in a matter of minutes.  Well, I’m sad to report that it’s happened again, another situation this time, but ironically still involving a(nother) bank.

One Friday afternoon in February, I was catching up on my banking and processed four transactions within three hours of each other.  Two were deposits into an account and two were transfers out of the same account.  What is key here is that all were intra-bank transactions, moving funds from one Royal Bank account to another.

Fast forward to last week when I was reconciling my bank statement and realized that I had been charged an account overdraft fee of $4.09.  Puzzled, I called customer service to find out what happened.  Turns out that while the two transfers out of that one account had been processed before 6 pm, the first deposit into the account had been posted at 6:01 pm and the second about 30 minutes later.  Apparently the rule is that transactions posted after 6 pm are recorded on the next business day, in this case on the following Monday.  So, in the system, the withdrawals were logged on Friday and the deposits were logged on the following Monday, three days later.  Ergo, the overdraft fee.

Customer loyalty is easy to lose …

While the overdraft fee was logically accurate because of the computer algorithm, it clearly didn’t make common sense, at least from a customer service perspective.  It was a simple timing error, and one that had zero impact to Royal Bank as all funds had been moved between Royal Bank accounts.  So I fully expected the phone agent to willingly acquiesce to my request to have the amount waived.  Imagine my surprise when he “put me on hold to talk to a supervisor”. Continue reading