Merge's Blog

Category Archives: Motivation Tools

Seeking employee development strategies? Implement a tuition reimbursement program

For the past several months, I’ve been sharing specific employee development strategies on the blog via short videos: each time, one explicit, pragmatic, and actionable idea you can use to help your employees develop and grow into accomplished professionals and the future leaders in your organization.  Today’s advice: implement a tuition reimbursement program.

Implement a tuition reimbursement program

A tuition reimbursement program is a great way to support learning that isn’t provided in-house, and to provide assistance to employees who want to further their education. Such programs are usually external learning curriculum provided by colleges, universities, professional associations and vendors in relation to industry certifications.

Now it’s true, an employee who takes classes may not finish the degree for several years.  Continue reading

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

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

Strategy #9 in our series on employee development ideas: make it safe to make mistakes

In strategy #8 in our continuing series on employee development ideas, I said that a great way to help employees grow was to find opportunities to showcase their strengths.  While that may seem paradoxical, the logic is that when staff are given chance to shine, it boosts their self-confidence which then carries over into other more difficult situations.  So following from that is Strategy #9 in employee development ideas: make it safe to make mistakes.

Make it safe to make mistakes

The old adage – you polish your skills by doing it right, but you learn from making mistakes – fully applies.  Development and growth only happens when people are willing to push the envelope, to go beyond the tried-and-true, to step outside their comfort zones and do something different.  But that comes with risks – that things may go wrong, or not work out as hoped or intended.  The risk is that when people go beyond what is currently being done, they may make a mistake, or even, in the harsh light of hindsight, fail.  But if it becomes dangerous to make mistakes, employees simply will stop taking risks of any sort. And then, they will ultimately stop learning and growing. Continue reading

Strategy #8 in our video series on developing your employees

In my last instalment on ideas for developing your employees, I suggested you ask further questions in response to questions asked by your employees.  Today’s tip in this series: find opportunities to showcase your people’s strengths.

Find opportunities to showcase your people’s strengths

An important component of developing your employees is to build up their self-esteem and their confidence, and when we, as leaders, can find ways to highlight and showcase their strengths, we set our people up to succeed!  Every employee has certain things they are good at.  Perhaps one of your staff members is very strong analytically, and a second is good at doing presentations.  Maybe one of your people is very detail-oriented, and another has a knack for seeing the big picture implications of a situation.  Yet another has demonstrated expertise in complicated negotiations.

Whatever an employee’s strengths, when you give assignments that emphasize those attributes, you also give the employee an opportunity to shine.  And when employees get the satisfaction that comes with not only doing the job well, but knowing that others also observe them at their best, their self-confidence climbs.  Continue reading

A unique employee team-building idea from one of my client organizations

Three weeks ago, I shared a fantastic idea from a client organization about a unique way to acknowledge and motivate employees – to hold “fake” retirement parties.  Well, today I’m thrilled to tell you about another great example of employee team-building and motivation from another client organization.

Monthly culture “moments”

employee team-buildingThis particular company has a very diverse workforce with people from a variety of different ethnicities and cultures.  So as a way to build understanding, to strengthen teamwork, and to have fun, their Corporate Finance team created monthly culture moments.  At their monthly team meetings, over a period of several months, they’ve showcased the different cultures and nationalities represented in their department.  Even though they’ve called it culture “moments”, it is in fact the theme for the entire meeting.

One or two employees (who are from that culture) make a short presentation sharing the background and history of their heritage countries.  They also tell the rest of the team about a core societal value and a common workplace behaviour.  Continue reading

Acknowledge employees by holding “fake” retirement parties

In 2018, I did an entire series of  video blogs (33 in fact!) that focused on specific ideas to motivate employees.  But the fortunate reality is that the possibilities are endless.  Which is why I was so excited to learn about yet another tip just last week.  I was working with a group of leaders in a client organization, and one of them told me about this absolutely fantastic idea to acknowledge employees: “Hold “fake” retirement parties,” he said.  I was so intrigued, I had to ask him to explain further.

Hold “fake” retirement parties

Once a month or so, perhaps at your regular department meeting, set aside 15 or more minutes for a “fake” retirement party.  To understand what a fake retirement party is, you have to first ask yourself what usually happens at a retirement party.  Well, there are speeches about the departing person honouring and highlighting his or her strengths, accomplishments, and legacy to the organization.  Well, the fake retirement party is exactly the same thing, but it’s “fake” because the person isn’t actually leaving.  Instead, it’s an opportunity to acknowledge employees – their worth, their value, and their lasting legacy to your department or your company. Continue reading

Blocking internal transfers and promotions is a bad idea!

Demotivator on Warning Road SignSometimes, managers deliberately and consciously take actions that while logical, create situations that are non-productive and hugely demotivating. Unfortunately, this is more usual than not.  In fact, this was the very topic of a one of my regular The Globe & Mail columns back in November 2014 titled Why do smart managers do stupid things?

I continue to see examples of this dysfunctional behaviour repeatedly in my leadership development practice.  Last week I had a very positive conversation with a group of leaders in one of my client organizations, but it reminded me of this very negative situation that I came across (and blogged about) back in 2016.  In fact, it stirred up such dialogue in this group that I felt it was worth bringing up in the blog again.

I got a call from an employee at a large client company, very upset because his manager had blocked his internal transfer.  This organization has an online internal job bulletin board that permits employees to apply for internal jobs within the company.  This particular employee had, with his manager’s knowledge, applied for a job in another department.  Since he has been in his current role for over three years, he was seeking different challenges and new learning opportunities.  The interview process went well and he was optimistic about getting this new assignment.  Imagine his surprise to learn that he did not get the job because his manager had blocked the transfer.  Turns out that there had been some other recent unexpected personnel changes in the department, and his manager felt that his move would be too much change, too fast. Continue reading

#2 in our series on employee development strategies

Earlier this month, I kicked off our brand-new video series on employee development strategies with our first tip: invest in training. Today’s strategy: ask about and support your employees’ career aspirations.

Support your employees’ career aspirations

This is a two-parter. First, you need to make the time to ask. I always recommend that supervisors and managers schedule a 30-minute coffee meeting with each of their employees sometime within the first six months of their working relationship. The coffee meeting doesn’t actually have to involve coffee (even though it may).  But it should be away from the immediate workspace.

The purpose of this meeting is to talk about the employee, and not necessarily about their current job responsibilities. Sure, current issues may come up in the course of the conversation.  But the real goal of the coffee meeting is to find out more about the employee at a personal level. Who they are, their interests, their families, their hobbies, and yes, their career goals and aspirations. Make the meeting about the employee. And pay attention specifically to what they tell you about what they want to accomplish during their careers.

After you ask, support

Continue reading

Build employee commitment by celebrating – our last tip in our 2018 series on motivating employees

All year, I’ve been giving you video tips on explicit actions leaders can take to motivate their people and build employee commitment for the long haul.  Last week, I went back to basics with “Provide a workplace that is free from bullying and harassment”.  Today, #33, happens to be our final strategy in this continuing series, so it seems only appropriate that it should be about a celebration.  Specifically, today’s motivating tip is to plan periodic office parties.  Let me explain further.

Plan periodic office parties

Your goal should be to maximize attendance for motivation value, so consider holding your office party during office hours, ideally over the lunch hour.  Plan to have them once a quarter, or even monthly.  Encourage employees to get involved in the planning; in fact, go as far as appointing each of your employees to one of the quarterly or monthly “planning committees” so that over the year each of your people are involved in one event.  Continue reading