Merge's Blog

Encourage informal employee training by holding “Learn at Lunch” sessions

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a video in our ongoing series on ideas and tips to develop and grow your employees.  Today’s strategy focuses on employee training – specifically to hold “Learn at Lunch” sessions for your staff.

Hold “Learn at Lunch” sessions

In my leadership practice, one of the most common concerns I hear raised when it comes to employee training is the lack of time available to take employees away from day-to-day responsibilities.  In these situations, I often suggest a “Learn at Lunch” program.  These can be a great way to develop and motivate staff, while creating a collaborative, communicative and learning workplace.

So what is a Learn at Lunch session?  It’s usually a 30-45 minute informal presentation organized by your company for your staff over the lunch hour, led either by internal employees or external resources, as needed.  While they can pretty much be held anywhere, they’re often, held in the cafeteria, auditorium, or a conference room.  As an incentive to attend, most organizations provide lunch, but if that’s not feasible for you, you can invite your employees to bring their own lunch during the session.

What kind of informal employee training is appropriate?

Continue reading

Open-enrollment leadership training announced for Calgary and Edmonton!

open-enrollment leadership trainingI am often asked about “public” or open-enrollment leadership training programs that are available to anyone, not just the leaders in the client organizations I work with.  Which is why, for the 5th year in a row, I am thrilled to announce our partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta).  Over the next six months, I will be delivering twelve full-day leadership and workplace communication programs in Edmonton and Calgary.

And here is the best part! Open-enrollment leadership training means that  these programs are available to anyone from any organization … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register.  If you work in a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget to conduct an onsite leadership training program, this is your stellar cost-effective opportunity to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development! These one-day sessions are very reasonably priced at $450 per day (and include a light breakfast and lunch!), a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors. Plus, I’m facilitating them … how could they get any better? 🙂

Five open-enrollment leadership training programs to choose from next month

I have five programs coming up next month in October in both Calgary and Edmonton. Continue reading

Use Cunningham’s Law to get people involved and talking

When seeking to solve an issue or a problem, or charged with evaluating or implementing a new initiative, you’ve probably approached your employees and co-workers to elicit ideas and engage in discussion.  But often, it is difficult to get people involved in the dialogue.  Usually, it’s not because people don’t have anything useful to offer; more likely it’s because they have other priorities and the assumption is that “someone else will respond”.  But the ultimate outcome still is that you don’t get the participation levels that you’d like.

Cunningham's LawConsider a contrary approach

So consider a contrary approach.  It comes from an unusual source – Cunningham’s Law.  Rather than asking an open-ended question, seed your question with misinformation or an opposing viewpoint.

So instead of: How many staff members should we bring on shift for the Grand Opening? 

Ask: What do you think about having two people on shift at the Grand Opening? 

Because two people on shift for a Grand Opening is clearly not enough, your team members will be quick to speak up and contribute their input to the discussion. Continue reading

The art of dealing with criticism at work

Criticism stings.  Sure, it is sometimes couched as gentler “feedback”, or offered as “advice”, or even presented as a “pointer”.  Yet criticism it is.  And most of us don’t respond positively to criticism, especially at first.  Dealing with criticism is difficult and sometimes hard to swallow.  But if you want to grow as a valued professional and a respected leader, it is to your benefit to open-mindedly evaluate the criticism you hear, even if it hurts or it isn’t what you believe to be true.  But how exactly does one do that?

So glad you asked!  Because that is exactly what I cover in my latest column in The Globe and Mail which published this morning.  In it, I outline a simple two-dimensional tool that I utilize in my one-on-one mentoring work with leaders in my client organizations.  I call it the “Valid and important” model, and it’s very useful when dealing with criticism.

Evaluating what matters: A better way to deal with criticism at work

dealing with criticism

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find this column on page B10. Continue reading

How to communicate sensitive messages

TimBreithauptSometimes you will have to make decisions that will not be liked by your staff; it’s one of the responsibilities of leadership.  While you can’t avoid making unpopular decisions, there are things that you can do to help your team understand and accept the new reality.  Which is why I am so pleased to welcome today’s guest blogger.

Tim Breithaupt is first and foremost my professional colleague and friend, but he is also the founder and president of Spectrum Training Solutions. As a leading expert in the area of sales development, Tim delivers real-world wisdom to foster a level of sales confidence that boosts sales results to exciting new levels.  Today he joins us on the blog with some specific advice on how to communicate sensitive messages.

Communication is fraught with challenges at the best of times. Ample research suggests that managers and leaders struggle with the task of communicating sensitive messages.  One such example: unexpected changes to job descriptions and responsibilities. By tweaking your delivery (or as I like to say, your bedside manner), you will experience a smoother flow to your message and elevate your communication confidence. To that end I share a proven four-step model that helps to mitigate stress and communicate with impact. Continue reading

Increase employee engagement by celebrating and sharing small wins

Today’s instalment is #19 in our ongoing series on practical ideas to develop and grow your employees.   And in this one, I look specifically at one powerful way to increase employee engagement.  It is to make it a point to celebrate and share small wins with the team and others.

Celebrate and share small wins

The reality is that while big successes are often recognized and discussed, the small victories tend to fly under the radar.  Which is a huge missed opportunity for you, the leader, to create employee engagement.  So make it a point to surface these smaller accomplishments, and not only will you increase employee engagement, but development and motivation as well.

In a previous strategy in this series (#18), I talked about using your staff meetings to review and analyze one thing that didn’t go as well as expected as a way to systematize learning from failure.  This approach for sharing small wins is similar, but it focuses on successes instead.

Systematize celebrating small wins in your staff meetings

For every staff meeting you hold, establish a permanent agenda item called “Wins” or “Successes”.  Continue reading

Systematize how you handle failure; you will create a powerful tool for employee learning

In today’s blog post, I’m back with another idea in our ongoing series of specific things that leaders can do to encourage and support employee learning.  Today’s tip: systematize learning from failure.

Normalize failure and systematize how you learn from it

At some point or another, we all fail.  Sometimes it’s a new process that doesn’t work out quite the way we’d hoped or intended.  Other times it’s an idea we tried to sell to others but they weren’t buying.  And on occasion, it’s a calculated risk we took that crashed and burned.  Whatever it is, whenever it occurs, it happens to all of us, even the best of us.

So if we know that at some point or another, failure is inevitable, then it’s time to embrace it and learn from it.  What I’m really saying is that failure is a great teacher – it shows us what our strengths and weaknesses are while motivating us to correct them.  So it’s time to systematize learning from failure.  Make it normal and make it consistent!  Make it an acceptable and regular form of employee learning.

Consistency is key

You can do this in a variety of ways, Continue reading

What does it (really) take to get promoted? Hint: it’s not sucking up to the boss!

So what does it really take to achieve career success in the workplace?  To get promoted?  To be recognized for both your current work and the potential you have to grow and rise in the ranks?  I’ve often heard people say that the only way to get ahead in the world of work is to “suck up” to the boss. But is it possible that what some people call “sucking up” may simply be learning how to work with your specific supervisor or manager?

In my leadership training and mentoring practice, I have had the opportunity to dialogue with tens of thousands of managers in organizations across the country, and they are unequivocal in their assertion that they can tell the “actors”; they know when their employees’ actions and behaviours are self-serving and when they are selfless. So if this is true, then “sucking up” is clearly not the reason why certain employees get ahead. Which raises the question – “What is?” And that is exactly what I address in my latest column in The Globe and Mail.  Gathered from my tens of thousands of conversations with the people who should know the answer, I list out nine specific things you can do to rise in the ranks.

What does it (really) take to get promoted?

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If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find this column on page B8.

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/2Tuhg1U

So … do you agree?

So, as always, I’d love to hear about your experiences, both as an employee and as someone in a leadership position.  Do you agree with what I have found to be true, or have you observed that “sucking up” is really what it takes to get promoted? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.  Please add your comments below.

If you want to be deliberate and thoughtful about ways to position yourself for career growth and success, you may also find these links to past columns I wrote for The Globe and Mail to be helpful:

 

A leadership lesson from how owls hunt

leadership lessonNature abounds with lessons, and I am always fascinated to discover that many of those lessons offer insights into leadership.  I was recently reading about owls, and I was excited to discover yet another leadership lesson.

Did you know that owls don’t hunt by sight or smell, they hunt primarily by sound?  And nature has given them a very sophisticated and elegant way of ensuring that they can catch prey to survive and thrive.

The ears of many species of owls are asymmetrical, with one ear slightly higher but directed downwards and the other somewhat lower but facing upward. As a result, sounds that originate from below eye level are heard louder in the left ear, while those that come from above are heard more clearly in the right.  The differences in volume and frequency allow to owl to find its prey, even in complete darkness.  The owl’s success lies in its ability to pay attention to what is happening both below and above it.

And therein lies the leadership lesson

Which is not unlike what it takes to be successful as a leader.  Leaders have to pay attention to what is happening both below and above them. Continue reading