Merge's Blog

A liquid metaphor about achieving goals

At this time of the year, there’s a lot of thought and conversation about setting and achieving goals, and as a result, I often blog on this topic, often finding metaphors in unusual places.  Like the time my unexpected encounter with a sea otter offered some insights.  Today’s musings … about drinking water.

It’s a lot easier to drink water when you have a glass

glasswater3Potable water … absolutely essential to survival, but unless it is contained – within a glass, a bowl, or even a cupped hand – almost impossible to drink.  Sure you could kneel and lap at a running stream just like other members of the animal kingdom, but it’s a lot easier if it is in a vessel of some sort.  Even animals appreciate drinking from an enclosed source such as a pond or a puddle.

If you are focusing on setting and achieving goals and targets for your professional and personal life, this liquid reality offers an apt metaphor.  Think of water as representing dreams and aspirations, the goals and objectives that you hope to accomplish over the next twelve months.  Just like a liquid takes less effort to drink when it is contained within a vessel, desired targets are easier to achieve when they are surrounded by a solid structure.  So what is this vessel that lets you move goals and aspirations from mere dreams to concrete reality?  The outer form of the vessel may differ from situation to situation, but it must always be constructed of three components – it must be specific, it must be measurable, and it must have a deadline.

Here is an example

Let’s say that one of your leadership objectives Continue reading

To improve your productivity, write things down!

Earlier this month, I promised that in 2020 I would specifically focus on a video series on productivity tools for leaders.  In each video blog, I plan to give you one practical and useful technique to reclaim control of your time, to improve your productivity, or to even get more done through others.  Today, I am excited to kick off this brand-new series with one specific suggestion that I hope you’ll take to heart and implement right away.  And of course, expect more productivity strategies to come in the weeks and months to follow.

Write things down!

Today’s tip: write things down.  It’s simple, but don’t let the simplicity fool you into thinking it is lightweight.  It’s not.  Writing things down is a very powerful to improve your productivity.  So get into the habit of making a to-do list.  Whenever you think about something that needs to be done, stop and make a note.  Right then, not later, because later often means never.  The benefits of writing things down to improve your productivity are many. Continue reading

Doing your job or doing your work?

jobAre you doing your job or are you doing your work?  Job and work.  Is there a difference? Absolutely.

A restaurant owner’s job is to produce great food.  But the best restaurants are the ones that also focus on giving their patrons an enjoyable dining experience.  That’s the owner’s work.

The front-desk receptionist’s primary responsibility may be to answer the phone pleasantly.  That’s his job.  But he also needs to think critically to solve problems, and adapt to shifting priorities.  That’s his work.

What about a doctor?  Sure, her job is to diagnose and cure diseases.  But the best doctors are the ones who ask questions, listen to the answers, and take the time to invest emotionally in their patients.  That’s her work.

Job versus work

The job is the hard skills, the expertise or the technical knowledge to get things done.  It’s what most of us study and train for.  But work incorporates the soft skills.  Continue reading

Want respect at work? Here are eight ways to earn it

Respect.  Unequivocally, it is the one thing we all want.  And respect at work, even more so.  Yet, many people unknowingly engage in self-sabotage, behaving and acting in ways which cause others, both bosses and co-workers, to lose respect for them.

Respect at work is earned

Respect at work is earned.  If you are the go-to person who is sought out for input and advice, it didn’t just accidentally happen.  If, when you speak, others listen, then rest assured that it’s not a coincidence.  If others make it a point to regularly keep you in the know, then it isn’t just good luck.  Respect at work is earned, and if you’re wondering exactly what it takes, then my latest column in The Globe and Mail answers the question.  Published this morning, I share eight specific ways you can earn the respect you desire.

Here are eight ways to earn respect at work

 

respect at workIf 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/2tQRXhM

Please, tell me if this subject – respect at work – and the eight tips resonate with you.  What have you observed in your workplace?  Who gets respect, and who doesn’t?  I’d love to hear your perspectives.  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 recent past columns I wrote for The Globe and Mail to be helpful:

  • How to survive the ‘extreme’ narcissist and make your workday bearable
  • The informational interview: A solid way to boost your career
  • Seven lessons learned as a first-time entrepreneur

Productivity tools for leaders

Brand-new video series for 2020

I’m so excited to kick-off another brand-new video series for 2020.  For the last few years, I’ve focused on a different subject each year.  Last year the topic was “How to develop and grow your people” – we did 25 videos.  And in 2018, we put out 33 specific tips on how to motivate your employees.  So this year, I’m going to focus on … drum roll please … Productivity tools for leaders.

In my leadership training and mentoring practice, a frequent refrain I hear from my clients is that they start their days with the best of intentions only to get to the end feeling like they’ve gotten nothing substantial accomplished.  So you tell me.  Have you ever felt that a full day has gone by, yet time seems to have escaped you?  Or that instead of checking things off your to-do list, it seems to be longer than it was at the beginning of the day?  If so, then I think that this year’s video series is tailor-made for you. Continue reading

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