Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: employee success

Leaders who exhibit vulnerability create an environment that nurtures employee learning

Today I’m continuing our ongoing series focused on creating workplace environments that foster employee learning and help you develop and grow your employees.  My last strategy on this topic was to set an example by being a positive role model for continuous learning.  Following from that strategy is today’s tip: show your people that it’s okay to be vulnerable.

Show your people that it’s okay to be vulnerable

If you get it wrong, admit your mistake.  If you make an error in judgement, apologize.  If things didn’t work out exactly the way you’d hoped, ask for feedback from those involved.  Sometimes, the feedback you will need will be from your staff.  But that’s not a bad thing.  Every time you demonstrate vulnerability as a leader, paradoxically you show great strength of character.  And the real bonus for developing and growing your people is that it creates an environment that encourages openness and honesty, which nurtures employee learning.  When employees know that it’s okay to show vulnerability, they are more open to listening and considering alternate approaches to problems and issues.

As a leader, when you are willing to admit mistakes and move forward, when you demonstrate that you’re a continuous learner who is open to feedback, you show your employees that vulnerability is actually a sign of strength.  It may seem contradictory, but it’s the irony that makes it so powerful.

So, I often get pushback on this one when I bring it up in my live leadership seminars.  What do you think?  Does this make sense, or is it a recipe for disaster?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please comment below.

Employee growth and development tip #3

It’s been almost two weeks since I posted our last tip in our new video series for 2019 on creating an environment that fosters employee growth and development.  Tip #2 was to support your employees’ career aspirations.  But I’m back today with Tip #3: set an example by being a positive role model for continuous learning.

Set the example as a continuous learner

Don’t just tell your people that you believe in employee growth and development, show them.  If you expect them to continue to develop and grow as employees, then be prepared to also walk the talk.

Demonstrate that you are a continuous learner by attending training programs – both shorter lunch-and-learn sessions, and longer full-day or extended programs.  Display that you’re open to new learning by listening to what the subject matter experts on your team have to say.  And ask intelligent questions about the information they are sharing to show that you value their expertise.  If you’re not completely up to speed on the nuances of social media, ask your tech-savvy staff to reveal some of their favourite tips and tricks.  Even better, have one of them do a short presentation at your next team meeting.

My point is that if you want your staff to buy into employee growth and development, then you need to set an example by doing the same.  So be a positive role model.

I’ll be back next week (I promise) with the next strategy in this series.  But in the meantime, I’d like to know what you think.  What gets in the way of you investing in continuous learning?  I’ll tell you what I hear most often – lack of time for supervisors and managers.  Is that true for you as well?  How do you get past it?  Please share your experiences by commenting below.

#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

Looking for ways to develop employees? The simplest is to invest in training

Earlier this month, I promised that this year I would give you a series of frequent quick video blogs focusing specifically on ways to develop employees – explicit, pragmatic and actionable ideas to develop and grow your people not only into accomplished professionals, but also the future leaders in your organization.  Today, I am excited to kick off this brand-new series with one specific suggestion that I hope you’ll find quick and easy to implement.  And expect more of the same in the weeks and months to come.

Invest in training

So here is the first instalment in ways to develop employees: invest in training.  Not much of a surprise, is it?  The key word here is “invest”.  An investment creates an expectation of a positive return on that investment, and thoughtful, good-quality training rarely disappoints.  When you invest time and money into training and professional development for your people, it tells them that you value them, and it is this very aspect of the training investment that causes people to pay attention, absorb and put their learnings into action, all for the benefit of your organization.

Two common objections

Now I’ve heard many of the common objections to this strategy.  Continue reading

How to develop and grow your people

Brand-new video series for 2019

Last year I did an entire video series of short focused tips on how to motivate employees, each one outlining a specific way that leaders could inspire, engage and energize their employees.  This series got such great feedback from so many of you that I knew that I needed to do something in a similar format once again.  So it got me thinking about what this year’s subject area should be.

If you have ever attended one of my live leadership training events, you know that I usually spell out the two basic philosophies of leadership.  Principles so fundamental that if you don’t live, breathe and truly believe these values, then you simply should not be in a leadership role.  If these leadership philosophies are not your core beliefs, then with great respect, you cannot be a great leader.  You will hate being in a leadership position, and quite frankly, your employees will dislike it too.  The first of these two fundamental philosophies of leadership is your belief that “You are a coach and developer of people”.  As a leader, you HAVE to be a coach and developer of people.  Else, you cannot be a good leader, let alone an exceptional one.

2019 – one full year of focused tips on how to develop and grow your people

So … with that in mind, this year’s topic for our video series is going to be … drum roll please …. “How to develop and grow your people”Continue reading

Maximize introvert power by tapping into their strengths

Extroversion versus introversion.  Despite numerous studies and anecdotal situations that show otherwise, people still continue to assume that somehow extroverts are more successful in the workplace than introverts.  As I have blogged about in the past, that is simply not true.  Introvert power comes from tapping into what makes introverts different from extroverts, and not by taking on more extrovert traits.  In fact, in the past I have blogged about how introverts lead, and how introverts network.

Which is why I was delighted when my professional colleague Dave Byrnes agreed to guest on the blog today.  Dave is known as The Introverted Networker, and not surprisingly, he helps introverts use sales and networking to succeed in their business and careers.  Today he writes about how leaders (extroverts or introverts) can help their introverted employees maximize their introvert power and productivity.

Convert Your Introverts for Greater Productivity

There has been a lot of press about the power of introverts and their differences from extroverts in recent times. While better understanding is great as a leader, you may be asking yourself how this affects the bottom line.

How can you turn these insights into increased productivity from your introverts and improve job satisfaction so they stick around longer? Continue reading

Skills vs talent? Focus on skills

Last week I blogged about how one should hire for attitude, not skills.  My post prompted a few emails from readers, and it got me thinking not just about skills vs attitude, but about skills vs talent.  What exactly is the difference between attitude and talent?  For the definitive answer, I went to my dictionary.

Attitude vs talent

An attitude is a mental position, a feeling, or an emotion with regard to a fact or state.

A talent is a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude.

So, an attitude is a state of mind, a talent is an aptitude, so innate or a natural ability which is inborn.

Last week, when I talked about skills vs attitude, I said that skills were teachable and attitude isn’t, and I still stand behind that statement.  When I compare talent to attitude though, talent, for the most part, is even more intrinsic than attitude.  At least a person can choose to change their attitude; but talents are there from birth and so while they can be honed and enhanced, they cannot be acquired over time.

Skills vs talent

skills vs talentSo it got me thinking about skills vs talent.  According to my definitions, skills are teachable, but talents aren’t.  Or wait a minute … are they?  A leader’s job is to effect change in people, by creating an environment in which people will choose to change.  If skills can be learned but talent is inherent, then as leaders, we should always assume that everything our employees are required to do are skills.  Because this assumption allows our employees to believe that the changed behaviour can be learned.  If we assume that the behaviours we desire are talents, then there is no room for people to learn.

This sounds circuitous, so let me explain why the skills vs talent notion is important.  Continue reading

When you set people up to fail, the pain lasts longer than you might think

Last month I got pulled over by local law enforcement and was issued a $310 ticket and a summons to appear in court.  The ticket was legitimate; after all I was (unbeknownst to me) driving around town with an expired registration.  But the whole mess caused me to ask the question: Are you (inadvertently) taking actions that set people up to fail?  My premise was that the province of Alberta made a unilateral change in its procedures earlier this year without notifying those who were directly affected.  And that’s a sure-fire recipe for setting people up to fail!  The change: vehicle owners would no longer receive a reminder that their registration was expiring; it was now their responsibility to track expiry dates and renew accordingly.  And, you might ask, how were people to become aware of this change?  The assumption was that people would find out through announcements in traditional and social media.  Unfortunately, and to my bad luck, I was traveling out of the country during the “media blitz” and was blissfully unaware of the change … until of course I got pulled over by one of the boys in blue.

So on July 20th I made my way down to the local provincial courthouse to do as the ticket had commanded – present myself to a Justice of the Peace to make my case, and if I was not successful, to pay the fine.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  When I arrived, there were approximately 75 people in line ahead of me, many of whom were there for exactly the same violation.  Continue reading

Are you (inadvertently) taking actions that set people up to fail?

Police_Giving_TicketSo I got pulled by a police officer the other day; and got a first-hand experience of what it takes to set people up to fail.  Turns out my vehicle registration had expired on April 30, and apparently I have been driving with expired plates for over six weeks.  Twenty minutes and a $310 fine later, I made my way to the vehicle registration office to renew the offending document.  Now you might ask why I was driving with an expired certificate (the officer did).  My answer – I didn’t know that it had expired!  You see, for the last more than 30 years, I have always received a notice in the mail a few weeks before the registration was due to expire, which was my reminder to make a visit to the renewals office.  This year though, there has been a change in procedures in the province of Alberta.  The applicable government agency made a decision in March of this year that effective April 1, they would no longer send out renewal notices via mail, a move designed to save the province (and taxpayers) roughly $3 million per year.  Instead, drivers are expected to go online and sign up for email notifications.  Hey, I’m all for saving money, but wouldn’t it have been more intelligent to send out one last notice in the mail advising people that the province was switching to email notifications only?  I get that email notifications are a more cost-effective solution, but how exactly was I supposed to know that I needed to sign up for this?  Making a unilateral change without a reasonable effort to advise those affected is inherently designed to set people up to fail! (See Are you guilty of setting your employees up to fail?)

Sure, the penalty is legitimate (I was driving with expired plates after all) and I’ll pay it.  Continue reading

Forced ranking of employees is a foolish approach

It’s up!  After a short hiatus from writing for The Globe & Mail, my latest column is out in cyberspace, and this edition addresses a subject that is controversial in many of my client organizations, particularly larger ones — the topic of forced ranking of employee performance.  In Forced employee ranking is a foolish approach, I make the case for why bell-curving and forced numerical ranking have absolutely no place in high-performance workplaces.

G&M051016So … you know my opinion on this subject, but I’d love to know what you think.  Forced employee ranking – brilliant concept or stupid management practice?  If possible, please share your perspectives directly on the The Globe‘s site since your point of view will get a much wider audience than if you choose another alternative.  But I’m always open to hearing from you directly as well, so you can post your comments here on the blog, or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks) with your thoughts too.

And one last thing — do me a HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe’s site using the share icon at the very top of the article).  My objective is always to get conversations started, so the more people that react to this column means deeper and extended dialogue, which is always a good thing!  In advance, please accept my thanks for your help.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere: http://tgam.ca/EOig