Merge's Blog

Yearly Archives: 2019

On hiatus for the holiday season until January 9

As the holiday season approaches, here at the Turning Managers into Leaders blog, we’re taking a short break to celebrate. But rest assured, we’ll be back, enthused and energized, ready to share and learn, on Thursday January 9, 2020.

As I reflect over the last ten years, all the way back to August 2009 when this little blog first started, I am so grateful to each and every one of you for being such an important part of its creation and its growth.  Here we are, over ten years later, almost 1,000 posts in, and I am humbled by the quantity and quality of the learning that has happened here.  Ideas have been exchanged, dialogues have been started (and continued), and leadership excellence has been developed and achieved.  I am excitedly looking forward to another fantastic year of conversations and quarrels (positive ones, of course!) in the pursuit of becoming even better leaders than you already are!

Until January then, my best wishes to all of you and your loved ones for a festive, joyous, rejuvenating season with family and friends. I hope you’ll continue old traditions and find the time to create new ones!  See you in 2020!

Focus on employee retention by invoking Price’s Law

Have you heard of Price’s Law? It may improve your employee retention?

employee retentionDerek Price was a British physicist who is credited with identifying the mathematical relationship between (1) literature on a specific subject, and (2) the number of authors in the subject area.  Price’s square root law (or simply Price’s Law) states that half of the publications in a subject area come from the square root of all contributors. So, if 100 papers are written by 25 authors, five of those 25 will have contributed 50 of those 100 papers.  Price’s Law is obviously related to academic research and reporting, but I have observed an interesting parallel in the world of work.

Price’s Law at work

Repeatedly, in organizations, I have noticed that there seems to be a small number of people who seem to get the most work done.  If I may go as far as invoking Price’s Law – half the work is done by the square root of the total number of employees in that department or division.  So if the sales team has 10 people, half the revenue seems to come from three people in the group.  If the first-line tech support team has 15 people, four people seem to respond to and close about half the support tickets.  What if you have an organization of 100 people – do 10 of them get half the work done, and the other 90 the remaining half?  That’s a scary thought!  Now I know that Price’s Law doesn’t exactly compute in every situation, but my point is that this ratio generally applies – which is, a handful of people get the most work done. Continue reading

Our final Tip #25 in our 2019 series on employee development ideas

All year, I’ve been focusing on doing a series of video tips on employee development ideas – each one a specific, pragmatic, and actionable idea you can use to help your employees develop and grow into accomplished professionals and the future leaders in your organization. As 2019 draws to a close, today’s tip #25 is actually my final one in this series, and I hope you’ve found them practical and useful.  I hope you’ve been thinking about how you can harness your people power to build your employees and create results.  The final idea: look for deliberate ways to allow your employees opportunities to interact with your clients.

Give your employees opportunities to interact with your clients

At the end of the day, no matter what type of organization you are, your clients are your reasons for being.  If you’re a for-profit company, they are the source of your revenues.  If you are a not-for-profit, your clients are why you exist.  All year, we’ve talked about different employee development ideas, so it makes perfect sense that we close out this series with a strategy that specifically focuses on helping your people grow and develop their client relationships. Continue reading

How to work with a narcissist

An “extreme” narcissist is someone who has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. In the workplace, this manifests as someone who exaggerates their achievements, takes credit for others work, needs constant adoration, is self-entitled, and uses other people to further themselves.  If you happen to work with one, or even worse, for one, it can be a waking nightmare!

So can you stop these people from making your work life miserable?  Or is quitting your only option?  The good news is that most narcissists don’t stick around in a single job for very long.  So if you can find ways to achieve a working relationship that is at least tolerable, you just need to outlast them until they leave.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail that published this morning, I offer several ideas to make your workday with a narcissist more bearable.

How to survive the ‘extreme’ narcissist and make your workday bearable

narcissist

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find this column on page B9.

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/33ZdMYB

What do you think?

Well, I’d love to hear about your experiences with narcissists in your workplace.  Have you been able to develop a tolerable working relationship?  What ideas do you have to share?  Please comment below. 

As frequent readers of the blog know, I write a monthly column for The Globe and Mail, under the broad banner of “Leadership Matters”.  My most recent columns are linked below:

Employee motivation starts with meeting their needs

My professional colleague and friend Steve Foran is on a mission to help one billion people become happier.  And he’s well on his way!  He does this through a variety of avenues, but primarily through his research and teaching on gratitude and the habits of gratefulness.  Earlier this year, in May, he invited me to articulate once a day for five days, three reasons I was grateful (so a total of fifteen).  It was a rewarding exercise, one that forced me to be thoughtful and deliberate.  Since gratitude is an essential component of leadership and employee motivation, I asked him if he would be a guest contributor on our blog.  He said yes!  So in today’s post, Steve talks specifically about two needs you must meet for your employees in order for them to be highly-motivated.

There are two foundational needs that must be met in order that an employee be fully engaged in their work. It is not simply enough that leaders know these needs, but they must actively ensure these basic human needs are fulfilled.

The motivation for people to contribute their best-selves happens when the following two needs are met:

  1. One feels capable and competent
  2. One feels socially valued

Continue reading

What happens when people can’t see the “big picture”

I am repeatedly surprised at how often people miss the big picture. Like the time when Costco’s online ordering system forced me to go to their competitor. And the several times when the management team at a large organization made bone-headed moves in order to save a few dollars but in the process destroyed employee morale (see below for links to those blog posts). Or this story, where once again, I am reminded of how prevalent this “can’t see the big picture” disease is!

big pictureMy in-laws moved into a senior-friendly apartment and so they were selling their home. To help them get their house ready for sale, I contracted with a company to replace all the flooring. On the last day of the job, the installer called me.

“As I went to put the toilet back on in the bathroom,” he said, “the tank broke.”

“It broke?” I asked.

“Well I didn’t do anything to it, it just broke,” he replied defensively. “It’s old, and I’m not a plumber. All I did was take it off to put down the floor tile, and then try to put it back on again. And it just broke.” Continue reading

If you want to sustain your employee development efforts, don’t forget this!

Today’s post continues with our 2019 series of video tips on employee development – specific practical things you can do as a leader to help your employees learn and grow into the future leaders of your organization.  Today’s strategy: promote and support mental and physical health initiatives for your people.

Promote and support mental and physical health

At first glance, you might think this is an unusual piece of advice.  But it actually makes a great deal of sense.  Let’s take a closer look.  Employee development is about creating highly-engaged employees.  But significant research has shown us that highly-engaged employees are not always healthy – physically and mentally – which means that their effectiveness is only short-term.  Think about it – a high-potential, highly-engaged staff member who works long, demanding hours but doesn’t know how to cope or take care of his health is someone whose productivity will only last until he burns out.  So if you want to your employee development efforts to be successful, you need to help and support your people in managing their daily stress loads. Continue reading

Last chance for professional development credits in 2019!

For the 5th year in a row, I am so pleased to be partnering with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) to deliver high-quality cost-effective leadership training in a series of twelve “public” programs until March 2019.  Each of these sessions is eligible for professional development credits in most professional associations.  Five sessions took place in October already, but I now have two more dates coming up in December in Calgary and Edmonton.

On Tuesday December 3 in Calgary and on Tuesday December 17 in Edmonton, I’ll be facilitating Just for Leaders: Project management 101.  In this fast-paced and content-rich day, I’ll be covering a broad, yet practical overview of project management – the nuts-and-bolts skills combined with the non-technical components, the details tied into the big picture.  My focus will be on giving you what you need to successfully manage projects without having to attend days or even weeks of in-depth project management training.

If you belong to a professional association that requires you to complete a specified number of professional development credits annually, then these one-day programs will most definitely qualify (and may be one of your last chances to get your 2019 requirement met).

You don’t have to be a member of CPA Alberta to attend

Continue reading

The informational interview – your secret advantage for your next job

Are you looking to the next step in your career?  If so, you should be tapping into a secret advantage that most job seekers ignore.  It’s called the informational interview.  Part networking, part information-gathering, and part low-key self-promotion, an informational interview is a powerful way to position yourself as the prime candidate for your perfect job.

Some estimates suggest that up to 80% of open positions are never advertised, they’re filled through word-of-mouth.  If all you’re doing is applying for the 20% that are advertised, then you’re trying to be the star in a cast of thousands.  The informational interview will shift the odds in your favour by helping you tap into the other 80%.

How do you get an informational interview?

So how does one go about getting an informational interview? So glad you asked 🙂 , because that is exactly what I cover in my latest column in The Globe and Mail that published this morning.

The informational interview:  A solid way to boost your career

informational interview

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find this column on page B11. Continue reading

Are you falling into the complacency trap?

I saw the following words on a poster in my bank manager’s office the other day.

Complacency. Just because things are going well now, doesn’t mean that they can’t suddenly go horribly wrong.complacency

It was just below a photograph of a snail resting on a railway track, with a train approaching in the distance.  While I realize that the poster was slightly tongue-in-cheek, I was still reminded about how easily and quickly leaders can fall into this very trap.

Sure, it’s nice to have a period of time when things seem to be moving along smoothly, when the bumps in the road are small enough that they can almost be ignored.  But the reality is that while a short reprieve to catch your breath and celebrate success is well-deserved, resting on your laurels for too long can only get you into trouble.  When we get complacent, we tend to both under-estimate the risks we face, as well as over-estimate our own abilities.  And when complacency kicks in, things can suddenly go horribly wrong.

How would you know?

This poster got me thinking about how we would know if we are falling into the complacency trap.  What are the clues you should watch for as a leader that might indicate you are taking the status quo for granted?  Here is the list I came up with: Continue reading