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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute - a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

Sea turtles and Yellow Tang fish

If you've never seen a turtle "cleaning station", it is a sight worth seeking out. I've been fortunate to see these several times during my visits to the Hawaiian islands. Picture it as an underwater carwash where turtles line up as they wait their turn to get a sprucing-up. In actuality, it's a small section of coral where turtles swim in, and then, obliging Yellow Tang (and other) fish eat the parasites and algae from the surface of the turtle's shell and skin. And yes, the turtles really do line up as they wait their turn.

This is called, in nature, a symbiotic relationship. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement in which both parties gain. The turtle gets rid of the pesky algae that hinders its swimming ability, and the parasites that could cause disease. The fish get a convenient meal served on a platter right to their table.

In the world of work, a symbiotic relationship is what is often referred to as win-win. And as a leader, you can gain traction and achieve significant results by seeking out and highlighting symbiotic relationships. If you have a challenging issue that needs to be resolved, assign it to a staff member who you know will value the exposure to senior leadership. You get the situation capably dealt with, and your staff member builds credibility with several senior managers. Symbiosis. If you make your staff available to assist one of your peers who is dealing with sudden and high employee turnover in his department, you've not only given your employees an opportunity to build their skills, but you've also created goodwill for a future time. And your fellow manager has a short-term solution to his issues. Win-win-win.

What other examples have you observed of symbiosis in the workplace? Please share your experiences directly on the blog at www.turningmanagersintoleaders.com/blog.


The The Globe and Mail: How to have a conversation with your boss about postponing your return to the office

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