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Category Archives: Workplace Relationship Tools

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:

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

Eight steps to finding a mentor

You’ve heard it before: to further your career, finding a mentor to guide you is important.  Mentors are people who have experience and knowledge in your desired vocation, and who are willing and able to share what they know.  But how exactly does one go about finding a mentor?  It’s certainly not going to happen if you wait around hoping that a mentor will miraculously find you.  Successful mentoring relationships are intentional, and the impetus for action has to come from you.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, published in this morning’s print and online editions, I lay out eight important steps that will help you get the mentorship that you desire.

finding a mentor

Eight steps to finding a mentor

The above link takes you to the online version on The Globe’s website.  But if you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find it on page B7.

Occasionally, The Globe places my columns behind their paywall; if that happens, here is a link to a pdf version we have archived on our website: https://www.turningmanagersintoleaders.com/PDF/G&M_ManagementPrint_070819.pdf

I would love to hear from you!

Well?  Please don’t be shy, I’d love to hear from you.  What have you done to find mentors to help you further your career?  If you’re actively seeking mentors right now, what is working for you?  And what are your challenges?  Are you in a place in your career where you are able to mentor others?  If so, what are potential “mentees” doing right, and what are they doing wrong?  Please share your perspectives by adding your comments below.

Four ways to turn organizational politics into a positive force

We’ve all seen and heard it: when we win on an issue in the workplace, we call it good leadership. When we lose, we call it organizational politics.  But in reality, it’s likely neither.  Whether or not our position prevails on workplace matters is more a function of two other dimensions – your organizational acumen and your perceived integrity – two factors identified by researchers Simon Baddeley and Kim James in the 1980’s.

If you come from the school of thought that says (organizational) politics is a bad word, then it’s time to find a way to make it work for you, instead of against you.  In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, published in today’s edition, I offer four specific ideas to help you stride forward in the direction of good leadership rather than the rocky road of organizational politics.

Organizational politics

Making the most of organizational politics

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find it 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/2VKyAjt

I’d love to hear about your experiences with organizational politics.  What is happening where you work?  What deliberate and specific actions are you taking initiate and cultivate relationships to build your integrity and your understanding of the dynamics in your organization?  Please share your perspective and your experiences by adding your comments below.

How to work with someone you don’t respect

When you have little professional respect for a client, a co-worker, an employee, or even your boss, it can be difficult to stay motivated and get things done.  But the unfortunate reality is that sooner or later, you will have to work with or for someone you don’t respect — people whom you may find difficult, distasteful or downright unbearable.  While it’s certainly easier to work alongside those you like, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can only do a good job if you respect your workmates. In fact, you can function effectively with (almost) anyone if you keep just a few things in mind.

It is possible!

How to work with someone you don’t respect is exactly the subject I address in my latest column in The Globe and Mail which published this morning.

How to work with almost everyone — even those you don’t respect

If you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it 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/2B9JDKz

The reality is that sometimes you’re just going to have to work with people you don’t like and respect – it’s all part of being an adult in the world of work.  You’ve read my suggestions.  What is your advice to handle these kinds of situations with poise and equanimity?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please share by adding your Comments below.

Five foolproof ways to destroy workplace trust

Are you trustworthy?  Do you find that your coworkers are reluctant to rely on you?  Are you left out of confidential meetings?  Does your supervisor double-check your work or micro-manage you?  Are you always the last person to find out what everyone else already seems to know?

Regular readers of the blog know that I often talk about the importance of building workplace trust.  In fact, in a previous blog post titled How can you build trust in the workplace?, I offered four ideas. Workplace trust is essential to establish not only your reputation, but also to build a strong network of people who will help you throughout your career.  So if you often find yourself in situations such as those above, it may be time to self-reflect; to consider whether your own actions are inadvertently causing others to view you as untrustworthy.

Five things you may be doing that send the wrong message

My latest column in The Globe and Mail published on December 31, and in it I spelled out five unintentional behaviours you may be exhibiting that cause others think that you are not to be trusted.

Unintentional behaviours may be sending co-workers signals you’re untrustworthy

workplace trustIf you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it on page B7.

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/2VlSTDZ

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Do you work with people who are untrustworthy?  Are there any other signs that you think are dead giveaways of people who should not be trusted?  Please share your perspective and your experiences by adding your comments below.

Strengthen social bonds at work by using music

Strengthen social bondsBack in July, music therapist and my professional colleague Jennifer Buchanan guested on the blog with a post on boosting productivity at the office by using music.  Because this is an area that not many people are knowledgeable about, I was delighted to give our readers an opportunity to learn more about how music therapists use music to curb stress, boost morale, and restore health, and what leaders could learn that would benefit their workplaces.  Her post was so well-received that I was thrilled that she agreed to contribute a second post to the blog.  Her contribution today is about music can be used to strengthen social bonds at work.  And as leaders, we know how important it is to nurture and strengthen social bonds between employees – it leads to increased morale, higher productivity and less turnover.

Music: the culture connection that can strengthen social bonds

There is no doubt that music plays a role in our wellbeing. But researchers now suggest that music also plays a significant role in strengthening social bonds. In a 2013 review of the research on music, music psychologist Stefan Koelsch described several ways music impacts our ability to connect with one another—by affecting systems involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation. Here are some ways music can strengthen social bonds at work and hopefully get us back on track: Continue reading

Five reasons Generation Z employees are not Millennials

On January 1 this year, my regular column in The Globe and Mail outlined my assessment of the five employee-related trends that were going to gain the greatest momentum in 2018.  Number three was the influx of Generation Z into the workplace.  As I predicted, this topic continues to be of huge interest to leaders everywhere, so my latest column for The Globe addresses this very subject.

How Gen Zers will distinguish themselves from millennials in the workplace

Generation Z

Generation Z are not just millennials magnified!

Generation Z started turning 23 this year, which means that increasing numbers of them are working in more than just fast food and retail. Just as millennials changed the face of work, so will these young entrants to the workforce. Despite there being similarities between Gen Zers and millennials, there are more differences than not. Don’t make assumptions about who they are, what motivates them, and how they operate to get things done. Above all, don’t presume that they are just millennials magnified.

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/2Px2a8w

So I’d love to hear about your experiences with Generation Z, either because you’re working with them, or because you are one!  Are the five differences that I have outlined what you know and see to be true as well?  Please comment below.

Social awareness is a necessary component of emotional intelligence

social awarenessI have long championed that emotional intelligence is a fundamental and necessary skill for leaders, and I repeatedly see evidence of that (or lack thereof) in my leadership development practice.  A conversation with my husband last weekend reminded me specifically of one significant component of emotional intelligence.  Namely, social awareness – the ability to sense others’ feelings and perspectives and to accurately read emotional cues.

This manager lacked social awareness

Last Friday, my husband and a co-worker were, as he puts it, chest-deep in preparation for a senior management meeting scheduled for early Monday morning when a manager from another area walked into the room.

“Whatcha doing?” he asked with a smile.

“Trying to get all the materials together for the Vice Presidents’ meeting for Monday morning,” said my husband.

“And it’s an absolute mess.  We’re going to have to push until literally the last minute just to make sure that all the required data is there, and to also put it in some semblance of order,” added his colleague.  “I have a feeling that we’ll have to work late tonight, or else we’ll have to come in over the weekend to finish it.” Continue reading

Building loyalty among your Millennial employees

Millennial employeesLast fall, as part of my regular column series for The Globe and Mail, I wrote a piece titled Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial?  This is a topic that is close to the hearts of many, so I was not surprised when it got a lot of reaction, both positive and negative.  About the same, time, the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) asked me if I would pen a similar article for their members, one that directly addressed the acute staffing shortages and challenges they face in their industry.  The average age of those in the construction industry in British Columbia (well actually almost everywhere else in Canada too) is rising, and the industry is struggling with how to attract young workers into their companies.  The article I wrote was recently published in Build Magazine, the association’s annual flagship publication.

Building loyalty among your Millennial employees: Why you need to change – not them

Take a few moments to peruse other articles in this excellent magazine

The above link takes you directly to a copy of the article.  But you can also access the entire magazine at VICA’s website here: https://www.vicabc.ca/resources/publications/.  My column is on page 38, but there are many other articles you may find of interest.

Well, as always, I would love to hear what you think?  As I’ve said before, most people have an opinion on this subject of Millennial employees, either positive or negative (not a lot of fence-sitters on this topic), and I’d love to hear yours.  Please share your perspectives below.