Merge's Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2019

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