Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: July 2018

Effective and powerful employee motivators – Tip #19

Today’s blog post continues on with our ongoing video series on effective and powerful employee motivators.  The last one I gave you was Strategy #18: create a vision and sense of purpose.  And today, Strategy #19 is to delegate effectively.  And the key word here is “effectively”.  In order for delegations to be employee motivators, they must be done “effectively”, which means something very specific in this context.

Delegate effectively

Often, managers tell me that I’d like to delegate … but my employees resist responsibility.  And quite frankly, they already have more work than they can handle.  In fact, the research shows that the belief that employees resist responsibility is a myth.  Most staff welcome responsibility, but in order to be successful, they also need two more things in addition to responsibility.  In order to fulfill the responsibility, they also need authority AND accountability.  And it’s in these two areas that delegation often falls apart.

Delegate authority with responsibility

Often, managers are quick to delegate responsibility, but they either inadvertently or intentionally do not delegate the authority to act to fulfill that responsibility.  Continue reading

Social awareness is a necessary component of emotional intelligence

social awarenessI have long championed that emotional intelligence is a fundamental and necessary skill for leaders, and I repeatedly see evidence of that (or lack thereof) in my leadership development practice.  A conversation with my husband last weekend reminded me specifically of one significant component of emotional intelligence.  Namely, social awareness – the ability to sense others’ feelings and perspectives and to accurately read emotional cues.

This manager lacked social awareness

Last Friday, my husband and a co-worker were, as he puts it, chest-deep in preparation for a senior management meeting scheduled for early Monday morning when a manager from another area walked into the room.

“Whatcha doing?” he asked with a smile.

“Trying to get all the materials together for the Vice Presidents’ meeting for Monday morning,” said my husband.

“And it’s an absolute mess.  We’re going to have to push until literally the last minute just to make sure that all the required data is there, and to also put it in some semblance of order,” added his colleague.  “I have a feeling that we’ll have to work late tonight, or else we’ll have to come in over the weekend to finish it.” Continue reading

Great service recovery from the Delta Burnaby!

When it comes to keeping your customers and clients happy, things don’t always go according to plan.  Stuff happens … deliveries are delayed, products don’t work exactly as intended, and your service falls short in one or more areas.  So, no matter how hard you try, the unfortunate truth is that things will go wrong!  Which is why I’ve always said that it’s not bad customer service that makes or breaks an organization, it’s the quality (or lack) of thdeltacardeir service recovery that makes the difference.  It’s how your staff react and respond to a customer’s problem or complaint that will decide whether you now have a disgruntled customer (who will likely tell many more via social media) or a raving enthusiastic fan.  I have blogged in the pdeltafruitplateast about how some companies don’t understand this fundamental reality of service recovery, most recently when writing about the Royal Bank.

But in today’s blog post, I want to go in the other direction – I want to tell you about an organization, and more specifically, one of their employees, who gets it!   Samantha Scott is the Guest Services Manager at the Delta Hotel in Burnaby BC, my hotel of choice when I work in the Vancouver area.  And something happened last week that reinforced why I choose to stay at this hotel, again and over again.

Is there a gym above me?

At about 9 PM on Tuesday night, an endless racket began in the room above me.  It sounded like my room was placed directly beneath a gym – I could hear furniture moving, what I thought were weights being dropped, and what seemed like an endless skipping rope, thumping against the floor.  Eventually, shortly after 10 PM, I called the front desk, and Samantha answered the phone. Continue reading

4 steps to finding a personal brand

Last month, reporter Sarah Ovaska-Few from Financial Management magazine reached out to me for an article she was writing on what it takes to find and build a personal brand.  As regular readers of the blog know, I have spoken and written on this subject before (see Five ways to build a kick-ass brand) so I was delighted to see if I could be of value to her.

Taking time to reflect on your personal brand can help focus your career goals

Here is a link to an online copy of her article which published earlier this month:

4 steps to finding a personal brand

personal brand

In it, Sarah interviews not only yours truly, but also Dima Ghawi, an executive who went through a personal branding process.  The premise in this article is that if you refine your personal brand, it can help you weigh your career options, highlight your skills, and thus eventually focus your career goals.  Definitely worth a read if you’re thinking about where and how you want your career to grow and progress.

What are your thoughts?  What advice do you have to offer those who are seeking to define their own personal brand?  I would love to hear about your experiences and decisions.

Could artificial intelligence replace accountants (or any other profession)?

Just this past April, in my regular column in The Globe and Mail, I put forward the premise that artificial intelligence is the next frontier in the evolution of customer service.  But of course it isn’t just customer service that is being impacted by artificial intelligence (AI); just about every profession and business process is affected.  Which led to the subject of my latest column for Canadian AccountantHow to prosper in the age of accounting robots.

Professionals should embrace (rather than fear) artificial intelligence

Given the significant proliferation of artificial intelligence into the world of accounting, the question being asked by many accountants is whether the accounting profession itself is being threatened.  Could accountants be replaced by automation, just like the switchboard operator, the film projectionist and the elevator operator?  And if so, what can accountants do to not only protect their careers, but prosper in the age of the accounting robots? Continue reading

Worrying won’t help you solve problems or make decisions

A couple of years ago, I wrote a short series on decision-making here on the blog, and I was reminded of that recently when I read the following quote about worrying:

rockingchair“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”

― Erma Bombeck

These words were penned by Erma Bombeck, an American humorist, whose syndicated columns were read twice-weekly in the 1970s by 30 million readers of 900 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada.  Even though Erma’s columns were written primarily from the perspective of a midwestern suburban housewife, this particular adage carries sage advice for leaders.

Leadership is a non-stop journey of dealing with issues, some everyday problems, others full-blown crises. This constant barrage of concerns, complications and quarrels can leave many a leader anxious, uneasy and constantly worried … about what went wrong, what is wrong, and what could go wrong.  And even worse is when these very same leaders fool themselves into thinking that worrying is actually doing “something” about the issues at hand.  It isn’t.

Stop worrying, do this instead

So instead of worrying, consider this two alternative (and more constructive) strategies. Continue reading

Disruptive innovation … do you know the warning signs?

Is it possible for a small young company to outperform an industry titan, for David to beat Goliath?  Yes.  Just ask Uber, Netflix and AirBnB.  Upstart Uber became one of the world’s largest taxi companies without owning a single taxi.  Netflix revolutionized the video market, essentially putting Blockbuster out of business.  AirBnB has become an accommodation provider to be reckoned with, without acquiring a single piece of real estate.  It’s called disruptive innovation.  And many a senior leader across North America loses sleep over whether it could happen to their company, and perhaps more importantly, how they could prevent it.

Disruptive innovation is often overlooked

Historically, established corporate leaders don’t often see disruptive change as a hazard, usually because it starts when their own company’s profitability is robust and the competitive impact is minimal.  However, by the time the threat is conspicuous, the disruptive force has already gained so much traction that any efforts to reverse the tide are futile.  So what is really needed is an advance warning system.  Which is exactly what I cover in my latest column for The Globe and Mail, out this morning!

How to spot the warning signs of disruptive innovation before it hurts your company

In this column, I identify three specific actions leaders can take to assess whether their company and industry will come under attack, well before the threat becomes a reality; three things you can do to ensure that you don’t become collateral damage when your market niche is disrupted.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2KFP2zO

So I’d love to hear your experiences and perspectives on disruptive innovation.  What have you observed in your industry?  What have you seen that leaders have done really well, or missed completely?  Please share by commenting below.

Want employee engagement? Ensure that your people have a sense of purpose about their jobs

In my last instalment in this video series, I talked about how you can create employee engagement simply by being clear about the performance you desire from your staff.  Today’s strategy: create a vision and sense of purpose.

Create a vision and sense of purpose

As a leader, it’s up to you to create a shared vision, so that your team members can see the big picture.  To create employee engagement, you should be creating a sense of purpose; so that your employees appreciate their significance to your department and your organization.  Now, sometimes people don’t understand what I mean when I say this, so let me try and clarify by using an example from my own professional experience.

The bad

Here’s a description of what I do:

As a professional speaker and trainer, I travel to over 100 cities a year giving keynotes and seminars.  Unfortunately, I find myself spending a lot of time in airports, usually running to catch a flight that I invariably miss due to a late connection, and then sitting around for several hours waiting for the next flight.  In the airport, I often have to deal with overworked staff whose customer service skills have deteriorated as the day has worn on.  In a nutshell, they’re cranky, and as a result, often quite difficult to deal with.  When I finally get to my destination, I often find myself eating a poorly-cooked (and overpriced) meal, and then sleeping in an uncomfortable bed.  In a nutshell, I get cranky, and often difficult to deal with! 

So here’s my question – after this description, would you want my job?  I suspect that many of you would answer, “No way, Merge. Keep your job!”

The good

Now consider this alternate description of what I do. Continue reading

Boost productivity at the office by using music

jenniferbuchanan2Jennifer Buchanan is not only my professional colleague and friend, but also the only music therapist I know!  If you’re wondering what a “music therapist” is, then I’m so glad you asked!!  Music therapists use music to curb stress, boost morale, and restore health, and Jennifer is a recognized leading expert on bridging the gap between academic research in the area of music medicine and the public, speaking internationally to a wide variety of education, healthcare, government, and corporate audiences.  Because this is an area that not many people are knowledgeable about yet, I was delighted when Jennifer agreed to guest on the blog.  I asked her to share some insights that would be useful to leaders everywhere, and I was thrilled when she decided to write about how to use music to boost productivity.

5 Steps to Boosting Productivity at the Office using Music

Do you feel you need a boost at work? Music may be the solution.  The music industry has proof that you should listen to music while you work. In a survey commissioned by the UK licensing organizations PPL and PRS for Music, 77 percent of surveyed businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and improves the atmosphere.  The results were greater productivity.

So how do we make music at work?

There is no easy solution to developing a productive playlist for two or more people. Like all good work procedures and strategies, it takes time and it starts with being proactive instead of re-active. Take the time to identify the diverse needs and cultures of the group you belong to. Here are five suggested guidelines or steps for helping your organization use and select music at work: Continue reading