Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2018

Five ways to make flexible working work

The proliferation of flexible work continues.  Whether the flexibility is related to hours (such as flexi-time, compressed weeks, or part-time work) or workstyles (telecommuting, flexible workspaces, or job sharing), it is something that more employees want.  Flexible working arrangements are viewed as attractive because they represent freedom – to be productive, stay motivated, and save time.

All of which also benefits employers, but not every organization has come around to appreciating the advantages.  Ironically, if your organization isn’t open to the idea of flexible work, you are putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting, hiring and keeping the best and the brightest.  Which means it’s worth your while to at least explore the possibility. In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, I offer five must-dos to help you make flexible working a reasonable alternative in your organization.

Five ways to make “flexible working” actually work

Flexible working

If you get the print edition of The Globe, you’ll find today’s column on page B12.

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/2RjIGoI

So I’d love to hear about your experiences with flexible working.  Is it an option that is offered in your organization?  Is it working well?  What are some of the challenges?  What do your employees think about it?  Please add your thoughts below.

Want engaged employees? Learn together as a team

Last week, in our series on practical low- or zero-cost ways to create high-performing engaged employees, I suggested that you boost employee morale by letting them represent your organization at external events.  Today’s tip: organize a team-building and learning day.

Organize a team-building and learning day

Teamwork and engaged employees go hand in hand.  If your employees are engaged, they work together towards common team goals.  And if employees feel like they’re part of a cohesive, strong and highly-productive team, then they are highly-engaged.  Which makes any emphasis you place on learning and team-building a very powerful motivator.  So organize a team-building and learning day.

Make sure to set it up so that there is both a learning component and a fun component.  Ideally, Continue reading

We’re back! Another series of “public” leadership training programs in Alberta

CPAI am so pleased to announce that for the fourth year, we are partnering with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) to deliver high-quality cost-effective leadership skills training in a series of “public” programs.  Many of you who follow the blog already know that most of my leadership training programs are for specific client organizations, which means that only their employees can attend.  However, these “public” leadership training programs are open to ANYONE from ANY organization.  Which means that if you work in a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget to conduct an onsite leadership training program, this is your chance to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development!

Anyone from any organization can attend these sessions!

Starting later this month, and until March of next year, I am delivering ten full-day leadership and workplace communication programs in Edmonton and Calgary. These programs are available to anyone from any organization … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register. These one-day sessions are very reasonably priced at a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors, and if you register early, you can get even more savings.  Add in a continental breakfast and a light lunch, and the fact that you get to hang out with me for the day … how could life get any better?

Here are the dates!

I have two programs coming up at the end of this month in Edmonton:

And then, here are the remaining eight programs scheduled until March 2019. Continue reading

The sorites paradox – a leadership dilemma

The sorites paradox: if individual grains of sand are removed one at a time from a hypothetical heap of sand, what is the point at which the heap can no longer be considered a heap?  At first glance, you may think that this is merely a philosophical question, but the metaphor has great applicability if you carry it into the workplace.  Consider this: if minor seemingly harmless problems or changes go unnoticed and do not individually attract attention, is there a possibility that eventually the sum total of these issues over time will result in a major setback?  And what if the significant outcome is one that, if it would have happened all at once, would have been regarded as negative, undesirable or objectionable?

In the workplace, the sorites paradox is often referred to by a variety of synonyms – creeping normality, the broken window theory, the boiling frog syndrome, and even death by a thousand cuts.  But no matter what you call the phenomenon, all versions lead to a Continue reading

Boost employee morale by letting them represent your organization at external events

All year, I’ve been video-blogging about specific actions leaders can take to build employee morale in their departments and their organizations.  My last tip was to say thank you in writing.  Today’s strategy goes in a different direction.  It is to give your employees the opportunity to represent your organization at an industry event.

Let your employees represent your organization at an external event

This may not seem like a big deal, but this is one of those actions that has a surprisingly great return on investment.  The reality is that in most organizations, the folks involved in direct revenue-producing activities are the ones who often are the outward face of an organization, and for that reason, are the ones most likely to attend industry association conferences, community fundraisers, networking events, and the like. Continue reading

When facing difficult situations as a leader, think about the physics of flying a kite

difficult situationsI’ve previously blogged about how airplanes take off against the wind.  It seems counterintuitive … you would expect that it would be easier if the wind were coming from behind the aircraft, giving it a push. Yet in reality, it is easier for a pilot to take off when flying towards a full-force gale, rather than with it.  Well, turns out that the physics of flying a kite is actually similar to that of flying an airplane.

The science behind the flight of kites is not only interesting, but also offers a powerful lesson in leadership and an alternate perspective on dealing with the numerous difficult situations in which you face resistance, opposition, setbacks and delays in the things you are trying to accomplish.  There are four forces that counteract each other in order for flight to occur.  Lift and weight act vertically, and drag and thrust act horizontally.

As wind moves over the body of the kite, speed differences means that the air pressure above the kite is less than the pressure below, and as a result an upward force is created called lift.  At the same time, the downward gravitational force of weight pulls the kite towards the earth.  Thrust is the forward force that propels the kite in the direction of motion.  While an airplane generates thrust with its engines, a kite must rely on wind or failing that, running by the kite flyer.  Drag is the backward force that occurs due to the friction of the air movement.

What does it take to stay in the air?

Two things must happen for a kite to stay aloft.  Continue reading

Watch for the negative impact of self-serving bias in decision-making

positive_negativeThe self-serving bias is a concept that has been extensively studied in social psychology.  Essentially, it is people’s tendency to attribute positive events to their own character but attribute negative events to external factors. It’s a common type of cognitive bias that exists in all aspects of life, including in the workplace.

For example, a salesperson who attributes a significant sale to his own business insight and relationship-building skills, but attributes a loss of a sale to the customer’s lack of acumen or the competitor’s unfair advantage may be exhibiting the self-serving bias. Similarly, a leader’s inclination to take credit for the team’s success, but to blame individual team members for mistakes or missteps is another common example of self-serving bias.

The self-serving bias can negatively impact decision-making

The problem of course with the self-serving bias is that it can negatively affect organizational decision-making.  For example, Continue reading

Writing a thank you note is a great way to boost employee morale

Today’s blog post continues with our video series on specific and practical actions you can take as a leader to boost employee morale.  Today’s strategy is not new.  It’s to say thank you, which is something that I addressed way back in strategy #9.  However, the difference in today’s tip is how – it is to say thank you in writing.

Say thank you in writing

Don’t just walk over and thank your employee for going above and beyond, and don’t just leave them a voice mail.  Take the time to put it in writing.  When you put it in writing, it has more permanence so it is perceived differently than if you just say thank you verbally, and it is a powerful way to build employee morale.

There are many ways to put it in writing

Continue reading

Work-life balance is a myth, seek work-life blend instead

For years, nay decades, there’s been talk of work-life balance – that delicate equilibrium between the time you spend at work and that which you dedicate to family, social and leisure activities, and personal interests.  In fact, I too have often penned posts (such as this one) that seek to achieve just that.  But work-life balance is a myth, a non-achievable nirvana that few (if any) have realized. So it’s long past the time to let this obsolete idea go. Instead, it’s time to embrace work-life blend.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, I explain how the word “balance” implies that a negative – work – needs to be offset by a positive – life. But there shouldn’t be anything negative about earning a living.  Work-life blend acknowledges that trying to isolate work from life is not only impossible, but also places immense amounts of anxiety and tension on those trying to do so.

Work-life balance is a myth

work-life blend

Shifting to work-life blend doesn’t happen overnight

So what will it take to reposition from balance to blend?  That’s exactly what I address in this column which published in yesterday’s print edition of The Globe.  If you get the print version, you would have seen it on page B10.

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/2zIvkMH

So I’ve already heard from several readers on The Globe‘s site who are not impressed with my point of view.  They believe that my suggestion of work-life blend is just another way to further reduce “life” time.  But I’d love to hear what you think as well.  Do you agree or disagree with my perspective?  Please add your thoughts below.