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Category Archives: Leadership Tools

The lobster as a metaphor for continuous learning

Several times in its life, a lobster casts off its shell. When the shell begins to inhibit the lobster’s growth and development, the lobster has no choice but to discard its old shell and grow a new one. It is the same with humans.  And it offers an important lesson to leaders – in order to stay relevant, both for us and the people we lead, continuous learning is paramount.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, published in this morning’s print edition, I offer three specific ideas to embrace continuous learning, to grow your mind and develop your abilities, so that you won’t become stagnant, so that you will always be relevant, no matter what the changes are in your working environment.

continuous learning

You need to cast off your shell if you want to continue to grow

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find it on page B11.

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/2XhyBzl

So what are you doing?

As always, I’d love to hear from you.  What are specific things you do to ensure that you are continuously learning?  What are you doing to be a lobster?  Please share your perspectives by adding your comments below.

If you’ve been a reader of the blog for a while, you probably already know that I have a book titled Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? which published in its third edition in 2017.  In the book, I offer three more strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities, as well as 171 Ways to Be a Lobster! Scroll down the page once you click on the link.

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

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

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

Five tips for specific constructive feedback to develop your employees

Since the beginning of this year, all my video blogs have been focused on specific and practical tips to develop your employees.  Today we’re up to Strategy #10: offer constructive feedback.

Offer constructive feedback

A sure-fire way to grow and develop your employees is to make it a point to offer them constructive feedback, information that they can use to change their behaviours and actions to give them better outcomes and results.  The key word here of course is “constructive”.

In order for feedback to be constructive, there are some definite dos and don’ts.  Here are five specific things to take into account: Continue reading

Why accountability matters: a leadership lesson from a fortune cookie

Last year, I did an entire video series focusing entirely on effective and powerful employee motivators; strategy #19 was to delegate responsibility, authority AND accountability.  I was reminded of this important leadership tenet a few evenings ago in the most unexpected spot … following dinner at a Chinese restaurant!

Leadership wisdom from a fortune cookie

accountabilityI admit it … I love cracking open a fortune cookie!  It’s the excitement of the unknown … what great wisdom is about to be imparted in the palm of my hand?  And the other night, after a delicious bowl of noodles and spicy green beans, the opportunity arose once again!  I held the ends of the crisp cookie between each hand, and pulled it apart with great anticipation.  The sage insight that fell out on to the table:

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly Plato-worthy!  But nevertheless, it still caught my attention … because it actually contains a great leadership message. Continue reading