Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: change perspective

Dealing with workplace gossip – Dogs don’t bark at parked cars

Unfortunately, workplace gossip is a reality.  Sometimes it’s fairly benign, but more often than not, it is hurtful to the person who is the subject of the workplace gossip.

workplace gossipA professional colleague told me about a situation that happened to him just recently.  He has been quite excited about certain business successes he has achieved.  However, he was deeply disappointed to find out that someone whom he considered to be a good friend publicly criticized and disparaged his recent accomplishments.   He believes that this gossip is driven by envy and spite.  He is, not surprisingly, frustrated and saddened by his so-called friend’s actions.

Dogs don’t bark at parked cars

I was immediately reminded of a phrase I heard from a Bahamian colleague over six years ago  — “Dogs don’t bark at parked cars.” I remember clearly when he said this, I turned to him with interest and had to ask him to explain.  “You never see a dog chasing a parked car, do you? The only reason you are a target for workplace gossip is because you are making giant strides and going to winning places! If you weren’t climbing to great heights, then there would be no reason for anyone to try and knock you down. Take any malicious workplace gossip as a compliment and as an affirmation of your success.” Those wise words have stuck with me, and I repeated them to my upset colleague.

So what about you?  How many times have you been upset or hurt by gossip and back-biting.  Perhaps this phrase is what you need to help put things in perspective. I’d love to hear what you think.  Please share by adding to the Comments link below.

If you’re looking for some more advice on how to handle workplace gossip, you may find this column I wrote for The Globe and Mail useful: Take the toxins out of office gossip

Braving the tides of a shifting retail industry

My latest regular column for The Globe & Mail published over the weekend in their Saturday edition.  It was inspired by two significant, yet polar opposite, events that occurred just recently in Canada’s retail industry.  The impending closure of a Canadian institution, Sears, contrasted with the almost-manic expansion of the online retailer, Amazon.

Braving the tides of a shifting retail industry

In What it takes to thrive in a shifting retail industry, I’ve compared Sears to Amazon, emphasizing that traditional retail is being replaced by options that promote less interaction with people and more interaction with systems.  This past weekend was Grey Cup weekend in Canada (Canadian football, for my non-Canadian readers).  So I’ve used the evolution of the quarterback as a metaphor for the shift in the retail industry.

Would love to hear what you think!

As always, I would love to hear your perspectives.  What do you think is the future of retail as we see it today?  What are the skills needed to adapt and thrive in the changing retail landscape?  You can either add your comments directly at The Globe’s site, or post your response here on the blog.

Sometimes, The Globe puts my columns behind their paywall. If that happens and you are unable to access the article directly through the link above, we will shortly be archiving a pdf version on the website at this link.

P.S. I’d like to gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance of Jeff Sharpe, a leader in one of my client organizations, who gave me invaluable assistance in getting the football metaphor right.  Those of you who know me well are fully aware that my in-depth knowledge of sports is limited 🙂 , so I am very appreciative of Jeff’s help.

You are a role model for workplace change that you’re leading … so walk the talk!

I started this video tip series on how leaders can successfully implement workplace change back in June, and today is instalment #15, which will be my final piece of advice in this series.  I hope you’ve enjoyed them and found them of value.  If you want to see all of them in one place, you can find them in the Video section of our website (under the Tools tab).  Here is a direct link: http://www.turningmanagersintoleaders.com/tools/videos/

My final tip in this series for leaders who are managing workplace change initiatives: recognize that you set the tone.

Recognize that you set the tone

As a leader, by virtue of your position and title in your organization, you are a role model.  Which means that you need to understand that you play a key role in the success of your workplace change initiative.  Your behaviour and actions will set the tone for how your employees will behave and act; it will establish the culture change that you are seeking for your department or your organization.  Truth be told, you cannot expect your employees to change if you’re not willing demonstrate that you’re willing to make changes yourself.   So it is essential that you walk the talk.

Walk the talk

Do as you say.  Continue reading

Workplace change will shift priorities, so address it as a team

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a video blog about how leaders can successfully support and implement workplace change.  Three weeks ago, to be exact (Use peer pressure as a positive force in change management).  But this series has been so popular that I’m not done yet.  In addition to today, I’ll do at least one more tip before I finish up this series on effective strategies for leaders who are spearheading workplace change.  Today’s tip: Re-prioritize as a team.

Re-prioritize as a team

When workplace change occurs, by necessity, priorities will shift as well.  If you’re putting in new or different procedures or processes, then recognize that these require effort and time, and your staff members simply cannot do everything the group did before.  Involve your team in determining what can drop off the list, even if it is just temporarily.  Ask your team, as a group, to rank order all their current work deliverables and focus on those that they and you consider mission-critical.  Non-essential work can them be prioritized separately based on its relative importance and your available resources.

Do not fall into the trap of going it alone

It’s important that you do this re-prioritization as a group, because that’s how you’ll achieve buy-in to the outcomes.  You will recall that Strategy #1 was to involve your employees early on in the change process.  This is simply a continuation of that philosophy.  Continue reading

Use peer pressure as a positive force in change management

Two weeks ago, I gave you change management strategy #12: Use your early adopters to build momentum.  This series has received a lot of positive feedback so I have decided to continue it for the next few weeks, so here today is change management tip #13: Use peer pressure to your advantage.

Use peer pressure to your advantage

When I talked previously about using your early adopters to build momentum, I explained what early adopters are: people who are not only on board the change bus, but already moving the bus forward.  These early adopters can often serve another useful purpose in change management – they can also unintentionally create peer pressure, a fact that you can use to the benefit of your change management initiative.

The reality is, whether you like it or not, messages from co-workers and peers are perceived differently by your employees than messages from you, their supervisor or manager.  You may be the nicest and most communicative person in the world, but because of your job title, because there is a reporting relationship between you and your employees, anything you say is received with a filter.  Good or bad, the message is always distorted by this filter called “you’re the boss”.   Continue reading

Change management strategy #12: build momentum by focusing on early adopters

Continuing in our ongoing series on the tips and strategies that leaders can use to achieve successful change management, here is change management strategy #12: use your early adopters to build momentum.

Use your early adopters to build momentum

As a leader you know that every change initiative has some employees who come on board faster than others.  These are the people who may have expressed some denial or anger at the beginning, but are now not only accepting of the change, but actively involved in making it happen.  I call these employees “early adopters”, and you can take advantage of their energy in a positive way!  Give your change management process a power energy shot by using these employees to build momentum.  Instead of doing all the hard work yourself, let these team members multiply and extend the excitement. Continue reading

Boosting employee self-esteem is necessary for effective change management

Since I began this video series back in June, I have been emphasizing that successful change involves building up employees who may be anxious or concerned about what the changes will bring, and I’ve given you several ideas already on how to manage this.  Last week I gave you change management strategy #10 – Let people vent.  Here’s another tip to help you build your people up when they might be feeling down: emphasize individual strengths.

Emphasize individual strengths

Boost your employees by highlighting what each of them are good at.  Remember, change creates anxiety.  You staff are wondering about things like – will I have to learn new stuff, will this affect my workload, will I now report to someone else, will I still have a job? – and all of these cause apprehension and worry.  So take the time to boost their self-esteem, to make them feel good about what they’re doing on the job. Continue reading

Successful change in organizations doesn’t just happen. Here is strategy #10

In my continuing video series on leading successful change in organizations (which started back in June), here is strategy #10.  Today’s tip is: Let people vent.

Let people vent

You may recall that back in Strategy #2, I outlined how it is completely normal for employees, when faced with change that is perceived as negative, to go through stages of denial and anger BEFORE they can get to acceptance of the change itself.  Venting is a key component of both denial and anger.  It is an opportunity for the person to let off steam, to get their frustrations out and off their chest, by saying everything that’s on their mind.

And by the way, when you let someone vent, it does not mean that your role is now to jump in and give advice, nor does it mean that you should sit there silently.  Neither of these two options are likely to get your employee past denial and anger.  Continue reading

Leading change strategy #9: Be transparent

My last two tips on leading change in organizations focused on communication (tell people why and feed the grapevine).  In today’s video in this series, I am switching focus slightly.

Be transparent

Transparency is key when leading change.  Be open and honest about difficulties, challenges and concerns with the “new order”.  Every change initiative comes with its own set of problems, many of which are expected or can be anticipated.  Don’t sugar-coat or attempt to hide them.  Be transparent about the potential challenges that may be experienced as a result of the changes.  Your focus instead should be on looking jointly for solutions to address them.  Do not try to minimize the challenges, or even worse, pretend they do not exist. You’re fooling no one, and all that you’re doing is jeopardizing your credibility.

In fact, by stating the challenges and concerns before your employees do, you are accomplishing three major benefits. Continue reading

Some unconventional advice for leading change in your organization

My previous instalment in my video series on leading change focused on the importance of communicating why.  Today’s tip also has to do with communication.  I call it “feed the grapevine”.

Feed the grapevine

Way back in leading change strategy #1, I talked about involving employees early on in the change process, and I mentioned the existence of one of the most efficient, if not necessarily effective, communication channels that exists in organizations – the company grapevine.  Whether or not the information in the grapevine is correct, its transmission is very prompt and immediate.  And in the absence of correct information from the leadership team, invariably, the grapevine contains the worst possible scenario.  Which is a recipe for disaster.  Because once the worst possible version gets into the grapevine, as you likely know, it takes on a life of its own.  The grapevine quickly morphs into the rumour mill.  Continue reading