New and Notable Blog Posts Did You know

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.

A lesson in collaboration from hermit crabs

If you live near (or you’ve visited) tropical beaches, you’ve no doubt seen hermit crabs.  Usually in groups of at least 50 or more, these small crustaceans often look quite unlike each other, owing to the differences in their shells.  This is because hermit crabs are only temporary tenants in their homes, in shells that originally belonged to other ocean creatures.  Hermit crabs, unlike other crustaceans, have soft abdomens, which makes them vulnerable to predators.  So they carry a salvaged empty seashell on their backs, a mobile home of sorts, into which the whole body can retract when faced with a predatory threat. But as the crab grows, not surprisingly, it needs to vacate one mobile home and find a larger one.

This biological phenomenon is certainly noteworthy, but what is even more interesting is the way in which this happens. When it’s time to “move”, hermit crabs form a “vacancy chain”. When an individual crab finds a new available shell, it leaves its own shell and inspects the vacant one for size. If it’s too large, the crab goes back to its own shell and then waits by the empty one for up to eight hours. As new crabs arrive, they also inspect the shell and, if it is too big, wait with the others, forming a group of up to 20 individuals, each holding on to one another in a line from the largest to the smallest crab. Eventually, a crab arrives that is the right size to claim the unoccupied shell, and so its old home now becomes available. Swiftly, all the crabs in the queue exchange shells in sequence, each one moving up to the next size.

This hermit crab behaviour presents an interesting metaphor for the workplace. Instinctively, the crabs have realized that collaboration with others will lead to their eventual success. The largest crab knows that if there is a line of crabs on the sand, there is a likely a new home waiting. It's nature’s equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising for the largest house on the block. And the remaining crabs in the queue have realized that by working with the other crabs, they’ll not only get their needs met, but help the others be successful as well.

Clearly, collaboration works in the world of hermit crabs. But what about in your workplace? Have your team members recognized the value of collaboration? Have you created an environment in which your team members willingly help others, fully trusting that when they in turn need assistance, another team member will step up to help them? Creating such a workplace climate is your responsibility as the leader, so have you done your part?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this hermit crab vacancy chain metaphor. Does it apply in your workplace? Or is your workplace fiercely competitive, to the point of dysfunction? Or are you somewhere in between the two extremes. Please share your perspectives directly on the blog at www.turningmanagersintoleaders.com/blog.


Want to be more persuasive? Become more likeable

Merge Profiled in Authority Magazine

  • This feature article about Merge by Penny Bauder from Authority Magazine not only answers the question- How to give honest feedback without being hurtful- but also gives you a greater insight into Merge and her journey to create Turning Managers Into Leaders.

Turning Managers into Leaders


That Merge can help you facilitate your next high-stakes or complex meeting?

Need to chair a meeting that is struggling with large egos, high stakes, complexity, many participants at different levels, anxieties, or low degrees of trust? If so, then Merge can save you time, money and frustration! Merge is an experienced external facilitator who is adept at refocusing people with grace and humor. Whether it's a strategic planning session, a Board planning workshop, an association meeting, Executive team development, staff team-building, creative problem solving, or something else, Merge is skilled at creating a safe and productive meeting environment in which people are engaged, and more efficient in using their time, resulting in prudent decisions and a greater commitment to further action. Visit our Facilitation Services section at our website for more information, and take a look at our Facilitation case studies.

You are encouraged to distribute this issue of Merge's Monthly Mega Minute to friends, colleagues, and discussion groups, as long as the entire issue is included. Click here to Share with Others.

Are you receiving this Mega Minute from a friend or colleague? Sign up to receive your own copy, direct to your e-mailbox every month. Click here to Subscribe.

Do you want to read past Mega Minutes? Visit the Mega Minute Archives.

This e-mail is sent from mergespeaks Inc., the leadership and workplace communication training and development company founded by Merge Gupta-Sunderji. It is sent only to people who have opted-in to receive it. Rest assured that we respect your privacy, and will NEVER distribute your e-mail address to any other individual or company. EVER. PERIOD. If you no longer wish to receive e-mails from Merge, click unsubscribe.

Company address: 1110 - 5 Avenue NW, Suite 307, Calgary AB, T2N 0R6. Contact us at www.turningmanagersintoleaders.com.