Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Boost employee development by asking further questions in response to an employee’s query

In last week’s video instalment in our ongoing series on specific ideas for employee development and growth, I told you that getting your staff to train others is a very powerful way to improve their skill level.  Here is another.  Answer questions with another question.

Answer questions with another question

As leaders, employees often come to us with questions, and our natural instinct is to answer.  After all, we’re the leaders, right?  But in fact, we can significantly boost employee development simply by choosing to instead ASK questions of our employees instead of just answering them.  Let me explain.

When an employee comes to you with an issue or challenge, just giving them an answer may seem like the most expedient approach, particularly if you happen to know the answer.  But you will be losing out on a perfect opportunity for employee development.  Instead, if you make it a point to ask open-ended questions, you will actually help the employee think through the situation and arrive at an acceptable solution, all the while, helping them grow in skill and confidence.

So what are open-ended questions?  Continue reading

A unique employee team-building idea from one of my client organizations

Three weeks ago, I shared a fantastic idea from a client organization about a unique way to acknowledge and motivate employees – to hold “fake” retirement parties.  Well, today I’m thrilled to tell you about another great example of employee team-building and motivation from another client organization.

Monthly culture “moments”

employee team-buildingThis particular company has a very diverse workforce with people from a variety of different ethnicities and cultures.  So as a way to build understanding, to strengthen teamwork, and to have fun, their Corporate Finance team created monthly culture moments.  At their monthly team meetings, over a period of several months, they’ve showcased the different cultures and nationalities represented in their department.  Even though they’ve called it culture “moments”, it is in fact the theme for the entire meeting.

One or two employees (who are from that culture) make a short presentation sharing the background and history of their heritage countries.  They also tell the rest of the team about a core societal value and a common workplace behaviour.  Continue reading

One of the best ways to develop your staff? Let them train others!

Last week, in our series on specific actions you can take to grow and develop your staff, I said that you should thoughtfully communicate your long-term goals and plans to them.  Today’s idea: Let them teach others.

Let them teach others

This one is so brilliant that I am always astonished when people seem surprised to hear this!  For thousands of years, people have known that the best way to understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. In fact, the Roman philosopher Seneca is credited with saying “While we teach, we learn,” in the 1st century AD.  And this notion is absolutely applicable in the workplace, to great advantage.

If you want to grow and develop your staff, get them to train others.  Sure, the obvious benefit is that it will help them develop greater depth in whatever their area of expertise is, but the advantages go far beyond that.  Continue reading

When it comes to managing the rumour mill, partial information is better than no information

rumour millThe ancient philosopher Aristotle said Horror vacui, or “Nature abhors a vacuum.” His point was that if a vacuum exists in the physical world, it is only momentary, as it immediately fills with the material surrounding it, without any regard as to what the substance is.  It doesn’t matter if the neighbouring material is similar, or of the needed quality, or even if it is suitable for the purpose, it immediately moves to fill the vacuum.  The same principle is at work in organizations, specifically to do with communication and more specifically, the organization’s rumour mill.  In fact, I wrote about using the company grapevine to your advantage in one of my regular columns in The Globe and Mail, back in March 2015!

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, people in organizations also abhor vacuums … in information. When there is a lack of knowledge – about people, about processes, about upcoming plans and changes – information, accurate or not, immediately moves in to fill the vacuum.  And ironically, the larger the vacuum, the more incorrect and outlandish is what moves in to fill it.

Managing the rumour mill

Which leads me to the point of this article.  The best way to combat rumours, misinformation, and the general distortions and fabrications that seem to take hold in just about every organization is to continually and deliberately offer correct, quality information to fill the void.  Even if it is incomplete!  Continue reading

Enhance leadership development by thoughtfully communicating long-term plans

In my last instalment in this video series on employee leadership development, I explained how showing your people that you’re vulnerable will create an atmosphere in which continuous learning is encouraged and supported.  Today’s strategy is to regularly share information with your employees on your organization’s long-term goals and plans.

Let your employees know about long-term goals and plans

There is an old saying – “If you don’t know where you’re going, don’t be surprised if you don’t get there.”  And it certainly applies here.  If your employees don’t know what your goals and intentions are for the long-term, then they will not be in any position to help you get there.  In fact, they may inadvertently work at cross-purposes to your plans, simply because they don’t know any better.

But … if you share this information with them frequently and regularly, then the opposite will happen.  Continue reading