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Monthly Archives: May 2018

The secret fun factor for motivating employees – play games!

Today’s blog post continues our series of specific ideas for motivating employees.  In our last instalment, I told you about a fun approach – to have dress-up and dress-down days.  Well, today’s tip has a strong fun factor as well.  It is to play games.

Play games

Again, your imagination is the limit.  In some of my client organizations, they’ve conducted hallway bowling and hallway golf contests.  Some have even held office chair races.  By the way, it’s a good idea to use chairs with wheels for this one!  Another good one is to post staff baby or high school pictures and guess who they are.  And again, let your staff members organize these – planning is half the fun.  Your role should be to create an environment in which it’s okay to have fun in this way.

Another word about last time’s video tip

I want to take a moment to address some of the reactions to my last episode about dress-up and dress-down days.  Some of you raised concerns about this concept of “workplace fun”.  Continue reading

Building loyalty among your Millennial employees

Millennial employeesLast fall, as part of my regular column series for The Globe and Mail, I wrote a piece titled Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial?  This is a topic that is close to the hearts of many, so I was not surprised when it got a lot of reaction, both positive and negative.  About the same, time, the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) asked me if I would pen a similar article for their members, one that directly addressed the acute staffing shortages and challenges they face in their industry.  The average age of those in the construction industry in British Columbia (well actually almost everywhere else in Canada too) is rising, and the industry is struggling with how to attract young workers into their companies.  The article I wrote was recently published in Build Magazine, the association’s annual flagship publication.

Building loyalty among your Millennial employees: Why you need to change – not them

Take a few moments to peruse other articles in this excellent magazine

The above link takes you directly to a copy of the article.  But you can also access the entire magazine at VICA’s website here:  My column is on page 38, but there are many other articles you may find of interest.

Well, as always, I would love to hear what you think?  As I’ve said before, most people have an opinion on this subject of Millennial employees, either positive or negative (not a lot of fence-sitters on this topic), and I’d love to hear yours.  Please share your perspectives below.

Motivating employees with dress-up and dress-down days!

In our last instalment on motivating employees, I told you about the value of facilitating lively and informative staff meetings.  So now here is today’s tip.  It’s a fun one: have dress-up and dress-down days.

Have dress-up and dress-down days

Let’s start with dress-up – these can be anything, limited only by your imagination, and of course, the constraints of what would be appropriate in your workplace.  Here are some real-life ideas from client organizations – celebrity look-alike day, crazy tourist day, throwback day, international day, wacky sock day, crazy hat day, ugly tie day, seventies day, favourite cartoon character day, I think you get the idea.  Different holidays make perfect dress-up themes – Valentine’s, St Patrick’s, and of course, how could I forget Halloween.  For even more crazy fun, have twin day – that’s when each person selects a co-worker and they come to work dressed in identical or almost identical outfits.  If you can, give out small low-value prizes to ramp up the fun factor. Continue reading

Again … here’s why the traditional performance review doesn’t work!

Earlier in January this year, the subject of one of my regular columns for The Globe & Mail was titled It’s time to get rid of the performance review.  In it, I made the case for why the “performance review”, long a staple in many organizations, was an archaic practice that no longer served any useful purpose.  So when a colleague and long-time reader of the blog forwarded me a link to this recent article in Harvard Business Review, not surprisingly, it caught my attention.

People Don’t Want to Be Compared with Others in Performance Reviews. They Want to Be Compared with Themselves

performance review

A quick summary of the article …

While you can read the entire article at the link above, here’s a Coles Notes version.  Essentially, in this paper, the authors compare two types of reference points in four studies on performance reviews containing data collected from 1,024 American and Dutch employees. Continue reading

Tip #12 for creating motivated employees

In my last video in this series on specific tips to create motivated employees, I outlined the importance and value of listening intently.  Today’s tip also relates to communication, but this time it’s about how you share information.  Strategy #12 is to facilitate lively and informative staff meetings.

Facilitate lively and informative staff meetings

Most employees greatly appreciate being kept in the information loop.  They want to know what is going on, whether it’s the company as a whole, your department, or perhaps most importantly, how decisions and changes affect them.  When employees feel like they’re informed, they’re engaged.  And engaged employees are motivated employees.  One of the easiest, most efficient ways to keep employees in the information loop is to facilitate regular staff meetings.  But beware!  These meetings need to be lively and informative.

You likely have attended the meeting from hell – you know the one – where objectives are undefined, the meeting crawls on for hours, personalities clash, disagreements take over, and progress grinds to a halt. In short, nothing gets accomplished.  Continue reading

When leaders make mistakes …

#$&*&@# happens!  Well-laid plans don’t always turn out exactly the way you’d anticipated.  A sale that was one signature away from being finalized falls apart at the last minute.  One missed detail takes a project down the wrong path and it then costs a significant amount to bring it back on track.  The leadership journey is fraught with unexpected challenges and unknown landmines, and sometimes even the smallest misstep by a leader can result in financial and reputational loss.  The reality is that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen.

It’s how you respond to the mistakes that will matter

Some mistakes will be small, ones that you can simply shrug off as minor bumps in the road.  But others will be large, ones that affect major company objectives, directly impact profitability, or put important relationships in jeopardy.  It’s how you respond to these large slip-ups that will determine whether you’re a leader or a manager.  In my column in today’s The Globe and Mail, I lay out the three essential actions that separate the leaders from the managers, the three steps you have to take in order to successfully move past these blunders.

Why good leaders make grave mistakes – and still thrive

When good leaders make grave mistakes

All decisions carry risk and therefore come with potential obstacles that can sometimes derail progress. But when bad stuff happens, what do you think separates the leaders from the managers?  I’ve given you the three necessary actions from my perspective, but I’d love to hear about your experiences and points of view.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

When your people feel like they’ve been heard … you get motivated employees

Today is strategy #11 in our continuing series on specific actions you can take as a leader to create productive workplaces characterized by positive, high-performing and motivated employees.  And so what is today’s strategy?  Listen.  Listen intently.

Listen intently

Making the effort and taking the time to listen to your people is a powerful means to an end-result of engaged and motivated employees.  When you listen, really listen, to what your people are telling you, what you’re really telling them is that they are important and their point of view matters.  And by the way, let me be clear, listening, really listening, does not necessarily mean that you need to agree with your employees’ perspective, or act on what they are telling you.  You don’t.  It’s the act of listening that is a powerful motivator.  When you listen, it simply means that you affirm others, and that you respect them.  The amazing thing about respect is that when you offer respect, you get it back.  And when people feel heard … you get motivated employees.

Listening: the gift that keeps on giving

Besides, there is another benefit of listening.  Continue reading

Need to inspire and re-ignite your team? Harness the Diderot effect

What is the Diderot Effect?  Simply put, a social phenomenon in which, when a consumer obtains a new possession, it creates a spiral of consumption that leads to the acquisition of even more possessions.  These examples may sound familiar.  You buy a new piece of clothing, and immediately you start looking for new shoes, a new belt, or other accessories.  Or when you replace the carpet in your living room, suddenly the window coverings seem dated and tired, so you need to replace those as well.  Or you finally purchase a new car.  But now you need premium gasoline, and new floor mats (the ones from the old vehicle will no longer do), and other assorted car-related paraphernalia.  This is the Diderot Effect.

denis_diderot“Regrets on Parting With My Old Dressing Gown”

The effect was first described in an essay “Regrets on Parting With My Old Dressing Gown” written by the French philosopher Denis Diderot in 1769.  In it, he describes how he received a gift of a beautiful scarlet dressing gown which while he was initially pleased with, led to unexpected results, eventually putting him into debt.  Once he had a fashionable new dressing gown, the rest of his possessions seemed cheap, so he started making purchases to live up to the new level of elegance and style.  He replaced his old straw chair, for example, with an armchair covered in Moroccan leather; his old desk was replaced with an expensive new writing table; his formerly beloved prints were replaced with more costly prints, and so on.   He writes in his essay” “I was absolute master of my old dressing gown but I have become a slave to my new one.” Continue reading

Employee engagement comes when you actively seek input from all levels of the organization

Jeffrey SharpeJeffrey Sharpe is a Project Manager at one of my client organizations and someone that I’ve had the privilege of working with for several months.  He is not only very good at what he does, but also a thoughtful and intentional leader, constantly seeking positive and productive ways to get more accomplished through others.  When I asked him if he would contribute a guest post here on Turning Managers Into Leaders blog, I wasn’t sure that he would agree.  But he did!  His post below gives first-hand practical advice on how to build employee engagement, both now and for the long haul.

The Importance of Engaging with Workers at All Levels of an Organization

Have you ever wondered what your workers really think of your company? How they would improve it? What they would do differently? Have you ever wondered what your senior management is planning and how it could affect your career?

The answers to these questions are within reach, but only if you are engaging your workers and customers to solicit this information. You could ask them nicely, or demand they tell you. But either way, it’s difficult to seek the truth without each party sacrificing something in return.

When I was young, my father worked at a shipyard as a welder. He would tell me stories about co-workers that were frustrating to work with, bosses who had no clue what was going on with their own front line, and “The Engineer”, a fellow so out of touch with how things operated in the real world and at the job site, it would make your head spin. Naturally, after graduating as a Civil Engineer, I was given a speech that ended with “Don’t let that Iron Ring on your finger cut the blood off to your brain”.   Now I could have taken offense to this message, or I could choose to learn from it. Continue reading