Merge's Blog

Create employee engagement by monitoring performance metrics

Today’s blog post takes us to Strategy #14 in my ongoing series of video tips outlining specific ideas to develop and grow your employees.  Employee growth is a natural outcome of employee engagement, and a sure-fire way to create employee engagement is to establish and monitor performance metrics.

Establish and monitor performance targets

We’ve all heard the saying, “What gets measured gets done.” It simply means that regular measurement and reporting keeps people attentive and focused.  And when people know how they’re doing, they are deliberate and thoughtful about making decisions to improve their results.

So establish metrics.  What are those vital few indicators that tell you things in your department are working as intended?  Make sure that this is information that can be collected easily. Because if it’s too difficult, it won’t happen. Continue reading

A leadership lesson from monarch butterflies

monarch butterfliesEvery fall, millions of monarch butterflies leave their summer homes in Canada and the northern United States and travel over 3,000 miles south to their winter home in the mountains of central Mexico.

Even though the journey is long and arduous, instinctively, the butterflies know that they need to find a safe place to spend the winter.  This makes sense.  But what is very unusual is how the butterflies make their spring return trip to their breeding and feeding territories in Canada.

You see, the individual butterflies that leave the north are not the ones that will return.  While favourable air currents permit the monarchs to make their way south to Mexico relatively quickly, the return trip to northern climes takes much longer.  In fact, because the life cycle of a butterfly is just 5-7 weeks, individual monarchs stop for breeding and feeding cycles, and eventually they die before completing the journey.

However, their offspring continue the journey. Eventually, it takes the monarchs four to five generations to actually make the entire trip back up to Canada.

We still don’t know why …

Science is still deciphering how an individual monarch knows to return to the summer breeding and feeding grounds from several generations ago.  Is it Continue reading

How you admit your mistakes matters

ibdLast month, Morey Stettner from Investor’s Business Daily reached out to me as an expert source for a story he was writing for their “Leaders and Success” page.  He was interested in the best way for leaders to admit their mistakes, whether it was to their peers, their employees, their Board of Directors, or others.  This is the article that was published in their print edition last week on May 28:

Admit mistakes clearly to reassure others, not make matters worse

In addition to yours truly, Morey interviewed three other individuals, all of who provided excellent advice.

What have been your experiences?

But I’d like to know what you think?  Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve either had to admit an error in judgment or report a problem and you handled it appropriately?  What about the opposite, when the outcome wasn’t what you’d hoped?  Or have you observed a senior leader in your organization admit mistakes well or poorly?  Please share by adding your comments below.

P.S. Morey found me as a result of this column I wrote for The Globe & Mail a year ago in May 2018: Why good leaders make grave mistakes − and still thrive.  If you haven’t seen it before, you may find this helpful as well.

Formal mentoring is one of the most powerful ways to develop employees

I’m back again with another instalment in our continuing video series on specific ways to develop employees.  Today’s idea is to set up a formal mentoring program in your organization.

Establish a formal mentoring program

Pairing your employees with a seasoned senior employees who can offer advice and perspectives on the career skills and knowledge they need to grow in your organization is a very powerful, and one of the most inexpensive ways to develop employees.  But in order to for mentoring to work, you need to structure it thoughtfully and deliberately.  In particular, consider three things.

Three key considerations

Continue reading

Teamwork: Lessons from the Meerkat

teamwork lessons from a meerkat

This article was originally published on March 13, 2014 and has been updated

When you think of teamwork, the last thing you probably think about is meerkats, those strange little denizens of the Kalahari Desert.

By rights these cute, squirrel-sized members of the mongoose family shouldn’t be able to survive in such an inhospitable, dry and scorching environment.

They’re defenseless—surrounded by predators.

To add insult to injury, they have to dig for food—not just a little digging, but up to several times their body weight, just to get at one small morsel of caterpillar or beetle larvae.

Yet—cute, frenzied, tough and tenacious, survive they do, and quite successfully.

Their secret? Teamwork.

That’s right.

Meerkats are one of the few animals on Earth that can work together as a team—almost as well as humans. Continue reading

Develop and grow your people by investing in training

My blog post today also happens to be Strategy #12 in our ongoing video series on specific practical ideas to develop and grow your people.  And today’s tip goes back to one of the basics – employee training.  The specific strategy: jointly create a professional development plan, tailored to the individual employee.

Jointly create a tailored plan for professional development

There are two important words here – jointly and tailored.

Do it together

Jointly, because it should be an effort by both you and your employee.  Encourage your employees to take an active role in identifying what job competencies they feel they’re lacking.  Competencies are the skills, abilities, and knowledge needed to be successful in a particular or future role, and they can encompass technical knowledge and interpersonal skills. Continue reading

A problem employee must be dealt with promptly

problem employeeIf you don’t deal with a problem employee swiftly and firmly, you run the risk that a few rotting leaves will ruin the whole salad.  Let me explain.

Bagged salad from the grocery store is simple and convenient, so I often purchase it as an easy way to add more greens to our meals.  But every so often, despite the “Best before” date, I see a few leaves beginning to brown through the cellophane wrap.  When I notice some of the edges browning, I have learned that it is wise to open the bag, remove the offending pieces, and store the remaining greens in an airtight container for the next couple of days.  Experience has taught me that if I leave the bag unopened, the few darkening bits turn the entire contents into one big slimy mess, and then nothing is salvageable.

If you don’t deal with your problem employee …

This everyday situation offers a lesson in how important it is for leaders to manage, without delay, the problem employee on their team.  If you observe any of your employees exhibiting poor performance or inappropriate workplace behaviour, it’s essential that you deal with them promptly and firmly.  Because if you leave these individuals unchecked, they will most certainly spread discord and negativity throughout your team simply by being present.  Even worse, your lack of decisive action with a problem employee will actually be demoralizing for the rest of your team.  The few rotting leaves will quickly turn the entire bag into a horrid place to work. Continue reading

Regular one-on-one conversations support employee growth

In our last video tip in our ongoing series on developing and growing employees, I said that it was critical to offer constructive feedback to your people.  Key to continued employee growth though is that this constructive feedback be frequent and consistent.  So today’s strategy for employee growth builds on the last tip.  It is to schedule regular one-on-one conversations with each of your staff members.

Schedule regular one-on-one conversations with your staff

When thinking about regular one-on-one conversations with each of your direct reports, there are two things you need to consider – frequency and content.  So let me address each one separately.

How often?

Continue reading

The 5 Practices of Leadership Literacy

 

This article was originally published on November 13, 2017 and has been updated.

books in place of leader’s head symbolizing leadership literacy

 

Leaders have a responsibility: a responsibility to create an environment of trust, to guide, to create, to motivate, and transform. But to do all these things, a leader must be literate.

And by “literate”, I mean knowledgeable.

Today, information is ubiquitous. It’s found on the tips of our fingers (on the closest keyboard, tablet, or smartphone screen) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And with information so readily available, ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.

Continue reading

Coping with disruption – practical strategies at an exciting event this June!

Coping with disruptionI am thrilled to be one of the featured speakers discussing “Coping with disruption” at the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta Elevate Your Mind Professional Development Conference being held in Calgary AB this June 7.  And just as excited to be featured in the Spring issue of Dividends Magazine, going out to over 29,000 CPAs in Alberta.

This year’s conference poses the provocative question: Have you ever wondered what the brink of a technological revolution signifies for the profession and how your role as an accountant might change in an era of constant disruption?  The answers are to be found in a variety of presentations at this event, all focusing on the future of the profession in relation to the digital age.  My session is titled “How to Prosper – Practical Approaches to Thriving in Disruption” and it will address coping with disruption – specific strategies to survive and thrive in age of rapid transformation.  Here is a link to my interview that was published in Dividends magazine.

So … are you going to attend?  It is THE place to be if you are and Alberta CPA.  Do drop me a note (or just add a comment below) to let me know if you’re going to be there.  I look forward to seeing you!

Last summer, I wrote a column for Canadian Accountant titled How to prosper in the age of accounting robots, which addressed many of the issues that will, no doubt, come up at this event on June 7.