Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: September 2018

Pressure can create both diamonds and dust

pressurepressureI’ve previously blogged about how the situations of adversity can lead to opportunities for growth and development – about how pearls begin life as irritants and frustrations, and about how incredibly high heat can turn a simple clay pot into exquisite porcelain.  But as quick as I am to point out the gains that can arise from difficulties, it is also worth noting that there can also be another, not so positive, outcome.  Pressure has the ability to create both diamonds and dust.

Which leader are you?

Which is also a great metaphor for how you can choose to deal with workplace pressure situations.  The reality of today’s workplace is that pressure is a common occurrence.  How you choose to cope with the pressure will determine whether you end up a diamonds or dust.  You can either look at it face on, as a positive, as an opportunity to prove to the world what you are capable of … ergo create diamonds.  Or you can hide and hope the problem will fade away (or someone else will deal with it) and become a victim of the situation … the metaphoric equivalent of dust.

As a leader, you will encounter a vast array of pressure situations.  Continue reading

Boost employee morale by offering a stress-free zone

Today’s post is another instalment in our video series on specific tactics and approaches leaders can use to build employee morale.  Last week was to allow employees to personalize their workspaces.  Today’s strategy is to create a stress-free zone in your workplace.

Create a stress-free zone in your workplace

This tactic produces positive results in any organization, but it is really valuable if your team operates in high-stress or deadline-driven setting.  Whether it’s a call centre, a trading floor, a law or other enforcement environment, or just about any fast-paced workplace, giving your staff a place they can go to unwind or calm down for even just a few minutes is a powerful employee morale booster.

Ideally the space should be a room with a door that employees can close to create a quiet area.  But if that’s not possible, even Continue reading

Yet another sure-fire way to create disengaged employees

disengaged employeesLast month, I blogged about two different scenarios demonstrating how otherwise-reasonable managers do stupid things that lead to demotivated and disengaged employees.  Specifically, I wrote about managers who short-sightedly block their employees’ internal transfers and promotions, and those who erroneously mistake attendance for productivity.  Both those posts generated several emails (and even a phone call), all from readers who agreed completely with the points I was making.  A couple of weeks later, I received another email from a reader, outlining yet another situation that occurs repeatedly, almost always resulting in disengaged employees.  This event – when managers watch the clock to see what time employees arrive and leave, but then don’t give them credit for the work they do on their own time – is a huge demotivator.

Work isn’t just done from the office any more!

I couldn’t agree more!  In today’s world of advanced technology, work isn’t just conducted in the office anymore.  Continue reading

More workplace motivators that work – allow personalization of workspaces

It’s been almost three weeks since I last did an instalment (Strategy #23: volunteer together) in our video series about specific ideas on workplace motivators to build morale and employee engagement.  So I figured it was time for another one!  Today’s idea is to allow for creativity and fun in decorating and personalizing individual workspaces.

Allow creativity and fun in personalizing individual workspaces

When you think about how much time you spend at work, it may give you cause to pause.  Roughly one-third of your life is spent in the pursuit of an income, and for those of you who know yourself to be workaholics, that fraction is even higher.  So it makes a lot of sense to make your workspace fun, welcoming and appealing.  With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that allowing employees to decorate their workspace can be a great morale booster.  Let your people personalize their immediate work environment, whether it’s a cubicle or an office, with bright colours, family and pet photos, toys, individualized mugs, fresh flowers, cards, and just about anything else.  As long as it is tasteful and doesn’t create a tripping or safety hazard, let your staff be creative.

So let me tell you what NOT to do.  Continue reading

Strengthen social bonds at work by using music

Strengthen social bondsBack in July, music therapist and my professional colleague Jennifer Buchanan guested on the blog with a post on boosting productivity at the office by using music.  Because this is an area that not many people are knowledgeable about, I was delighted to give our readers an opportunity to learn more about how music therapists use music to curb stress, boost morale, and restore health, and what leaders could learn that would benefit their workplaces.  Her post was so well-received that I was thrilled that she agreed to contribute a second post to the blog.  Her contribution today is about music can be used to strengthen social bonds at work.  And as leaders, we know how important it is to nurture and strengthen social bonds between employees – it leads to increased morale, higher productivity and less turnover.

Music: the culture connection that can strengthen social bonds

There is no doubt that music plays a role in our wellbeing. But researchers now suggest that music also plays a significant role in strengthening social bonds. In a 2013 review of the research on music, music psychologist Stefan Koelsch described several ways music impacts our ability to connect with one another—by affecting systems involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation. Here are some ways music can strengthen social bonds at work and hopefully get us back on track: Continue reading

Dealing with adversity – wisdom from mom!

Dealing with adversity is a subject that I often address in my blog posts.  Two that come to mind right away are A mental approach to coping with irritants and An ageless folktale about dealing with adversity.  Here is yet another thought on this subject.

Face your adversity head-on

personfacingsun

When you turn and face the sun, your shadow will always be behind you …

Said my mom to me on numerous occasions during both my childhood and adulthood.  Her point was that the best way to deal with a problem was to address it directly.  The unfortunate reality is that as long as I tried to keep evading the issue at hand, either by skirting around it or by avoiding it completely, the shadows would also linger, and eventually the outcome would be sub-optimal.  As usual, my mom was right.  And it turns out that my mom’s counsel is not bad advice for leaders either.

The leadership journey is fraught with minefields – unexpected setbacks, difficult clients and co-workers, or just simply situations where the best-laid plans go awry.  When things go wrong, it can be tempting to retreat, to search out cover, and get out of the line of fire.  At first glance, this may not be a bad idea, since withdrawal allows you to re-evaluate and reassess the state of affairs.  But while pausing to reflect may be appropriate for the short-term, it is definitely not a long-term solution.  Continue reading

Radio interview – preventing the boomer brain drain

boomer brain drainBracing for the boomer brain drain was the title of my regular column for The Globe and Mail that published on August 6.  In it, I outlined five strategies to retain crucial institutional knowledge (and prevent corporate amnesia).

It got a fair amount of interest and positive feedback, including a call from the folks at the More than Money radio show on 770 Newstalk CHQR.  Dave Popowich and Faisal Karmali host this weekly radio program that focuses on planning for retirement, lifestyle and everything in between.  They were interested in advice I could offer on how people contemplating retirement could pass on their knowledge before departing their organizations.

Transferring knowledge wealth at retirement

Here is the link to my segment in the podcast of their show on August 18; the entire segment lasts about 10 minutes.

https://omny.fm/shows/more-than-money/mtm-aug-17-seg-4

What advice do you have to offer to add to what I shared on the show?  Are you contemplating retirement and find yourself in a similar situation?  Or have you experienced a situation where this “ boomer brain drain” was not recognized, and key people left the organization with critical information about processes and relationships?  Please share your perspectives by adding a comment below.

Five reasons Generation Z employees are not Millennials

On January 1 this year, my regular column in The Globe and Mail outlined my assessment of the five employee-related trends that were going to gain the greatest momentum in 2018.  Number three was the influx of Generation Z into the workplace.  As I predicted, this topic continues to be of huge interest to leaders everywhere, so my latest column for The Globe addresses this very subject.

How Gen Zers will distinguish themselves from millennials in the workplace

Generation Z

Generation Z are not just millennials magnified!

Generation Z started turning 23 this year, which means that increasing numbers of them are working in more than just fast food and retail. Just as millennials changed the face of work, so will these young entrants to the workforce. Despite there being similarities between Gen Zers and millennials, there are more differences than not. Don’t make assumptions about who they are, what motivates them, and how they operate to get things done. Above all, don’t presume that they are just millennials magnified.

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/2Px2a8w

So I’d love to hear about your experiences with Generation Z, either because you’re working with them, or because you are one!  Are the five differences that I have outlined what you know and see to be true as well?  Please comment below.