How To Find A Great Mentor

No matter where you are in your career you want a role that’s fulfilling and hopefully you also want to be inspired and challenged (most of us do). You also want to work for a company that eagerly supports your professional development.

How do you fulfill your dreams and aspirations – especially in this big world? How do you learn about the things you don’t even know exist? How do you keep yourself motivated in the work you are doing now when all you feel like you do is push push push?

A mentor is a powerful way for you to invest in your professional growth and personal fulfillment.

Perhaps the company you work for has a formal mentoring program – that is great; if you can get into them formal mentoring programs help match you with a company mentor. If your company doesn’t have a formal program you will have to find a mentor outside of your company (I suggest you find one outside your company even if you do have a formal company program).

Choose A Mentor

How do you choose a mentor? Here are 4 quick explanations on how to find a mentor (or two), to help you answer questions and navigate your career.

Step 1. What Do You Want To Learn?

What are your goals? What do you want to learn? Where do you need to be more motivated? The more you know about your objectives the more you will get out of your time with your mentor. A good place to start is to ask yourself what you want. Do you want:

  • To get better at what you do now? If so, think about people who do similar work as you.
  • To learn about other opportunities? If so, think about people who do work you think you might like.

A good mentor can be a great sounding board… or devil’s advocate.

Step 2. Explore / Do Research

Look around for a mentor prospect and explore mentor qualities. Is there someone you know who you admire (either in the company or not)? Is there someone you have heard of that you would like to learn from?

Perhaps you are looking for someone who will share your passion for social justice. Does your mentor prospect have a similar personality as you do? I recommend exploring their values and make sure they are similar to your own. What motivates them? The quality of your mentors is really important because you have to trust what they say… and likely… their discretion.

Before you both commit, get to know each other. Being well matched is important because you have to trust them and believe their advice is sound. Your mentor will have some influence on your future viewpoints, beliefs and behaviours. That said, I recommend you don’t choose someone who has the same background, history and lifestyle as you. I believe a great mentor is someone who has different life experiences and/or a different personality than you; perhaps they come from a different cultural background, perhaps a different industry, perhaps they are more creative. For example, if you are naturally cautious and reserved, a mentor who is a bit more aggressive may be helpful for you… that you can rely on. Equally, if you jump first ask questions later, a mentor who is more thoughtful and reflective may be a nice fit.

Not all mentors will be the same. So, if you are feeling really adventurous and may want more than one mentor. For example:

  • You may want to meet regularly with a successful person outside of your industry because their ‘fresh eyes’ into your world may provide amazing insight.
  • You may want a mentor you can use for 911 emergency calls; someone who you can ask a specific question, get their honest opinion and then hang up. This is a bit unusual, but still highly valuable.

Step 3. Make The Ask

Being a mentor or having a mentor doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or formal. It can be as simple as agreeing to go for coffee once or twice a month and perhaps also being on-call if you suddenly have an emergency or a major question.

Ask your prospect mentor for a casual coffee or lunch. This is the time for each of you to evaluate the other. Let them know you admire them and are looking for a mentor and would like them to consider being that person. Share you expectations and abilities. If they seem interested but don’t really have the time you were hoping for (so put them on call for emergency situations).

If you both agree to move forward, my recommendation is to keep your meetings somewhat informal… but have at least one preferred outcome per meeting. It’s likely you are both going to be busy, so allow some flexibility. I find phone meetings surprisingly helpful and efficient… I didn’t expect that at the start. I thought they would feel cold and impersonal. That said – I also recommend getting together fact-to-face from time to time.

Step 4. Know When To Move On

As the song goes, “You got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em” (my dad would be so proud). At some point your mentor and you may decide to part… or you both may become best friends. Either way – be fully present. Don’t hold on longer than you should… it may be that you’ve done as much as you can together and now it’s time for them to help someone else.

If you part ways don’t think that should be the end. Be on the lookout for your next mentor, you are never too experienced – you can always benefit from good advice. 

It also may be time for you to mentor someone and give back. Being a mentor can be as helpful as having a mentor. One of the great motivators for Millennials at work is when they can help / coach / mentor one of their associates. This helps build their leadership skills and will also likely increase their loyalty to your company (for a year or two longer).

One Final Thing

People love to help other people. It helps them feel fulfilled. It’s how you ask and what you expect from them that will impact your success. Still, you have to mind your manners. After each meeting send a thank you note.

Mentors have wisdom and share experiences. To me, that’s what mentorship is: drawing from that wisdom and potentially learning from their successes.

Go…. enjoy.


We hope you enjoyed this post. Happy mentoring and climbing the corporate ladder everyone.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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How Gen X can prepare to be tomorrows leaders

I was recently delivering an interactive keynote presentation on Generational Differences. As I introduced the unique characteristics of the 4 different generations in our workforce one of the attendees asked, “What is the future for Gen X [born 1965 – 1979] since in the next 5-10 years, the last of the Baby Boomers should be retiring, making Gen X the most senior and the smallest population in the workforce?” What a great question. She asked this because she wondered if Gen X will be swept aside by the tsunami of Gen Z’s and Millennials (Gen Y’s) that have been – and will be entering the workforce.

To be clear, by 2025 we can expect workspaces will be dominated (in population) by Gen Z’s and Millennials as the last of the large Gen Z’s (born 1996 – 2010), will join the labour market. If we look at this from a talent perspective, in 2025:

  • Gen X will be mostly University / College graduates with the vast amount of experience and wisdom.
  • Millennials will be mostly University / College graduates with education-based knowledge and roughly 10-20 years of practical experience.
  • Gen Z’s will be also mostly University / College graduates (often with multiple degrees), with great education-based knowledge with either no – or little practical experience.

In addition, both Millennials and Gen Z’s will be technologically proficient and entrepreneurial in style… not to say that the Gen Xers are not… just not as much.

To answer the question, it’s also important to consider some of the characteristics of Gen X not identified above:

  • They have been working with Boomers their whole career so are familiar with a Boomers approach (this can be a positive and a negative).
  • They have had a difficult time showing their true value since Boomers have stayed in their careers longer than anticipated.
  • They can more easily relate to Millennials and Gen Z’s approach.
  • They typically strive for work/life balance.

What does all this mean for Gen X future?

I see Gen X perfectly positioned to be the inspirational and trusting leader our future requires. I believe Gen X will leave their mark in history by moving leadership away from the 1950s-1980s ‘hierarchy’ model which is still holding on now in many organizations… especially in very large and very old organizationsGeneration X

I see Gen X greatest opportunity is to become the leader that Millennials and Gen Z’s will want to follow. They will be leaders that invest in each team member as an individual and their commitment will drive the greatest creativity, the greatest employee and customer loyalty and in turn the greatest profits by taking advantage of the strengths of their multigenerational and multicultural workforce. I believe successful Gen X will become leaders who clearly communicate organizational goals and vision and then inspire their team to exceed personal and professional goals. I also see Gen Xs’ strength is to be able to share with their younger co-workers the wisdom they have acquired – to help the organization, the team and team member achieve their greatest potential.

That is a great place for Gen X because they have the history, the knowledge and experience that can support the Millennial and Gen Z population and, in many cases, (depending on Gen X personality), act as the mentor for the team. And, because there’s going to be a lot of current leaders leaving the market when Boomers retire, this future provides a fantastic opportunity for Gen X… and also older Millennials.

I believe this will be an exciting future where the workforce dominated by Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z’s will begin an unprecedented period of ‘Strategic Agility’ where they will be using their combined creativity and ability to embrace change… to collaborate and to design new products that haven’t even be dreamt of yet. This, versus ‘Operational Agility’ where companies focus on improving existing product or manufacturing them faster and/or cheaper.

What can Gen X do now to prepare for tomorrow?

The advice I’d give a Gen X would be to start now and take every opportunity to learn and practice Effective Leadership techniques including:

  • Hiring Skills & Talent Management (focused on remote workers)
  • Different Types of Motivation
  • Communicating Clearly and with Confidence
  • Emotional Intelligence / Mindfulness

It may seem like a big list but think these topics are important in our fast-changing world. I would also encourage Gen X to uncover their passion so they can focus their leadership strengths in the field they love and are good at. With this ability they can lead their future teams by inspiring them… not bossing them… and they will find work/life balance and professional satisfaction by doing what they love.


If GenXers stay with a ‘control’ and ‘hierarchy’ version of leadership, they will be at a disadvantage.

The reality is even today leaders can no longer be the authority in knowledge; they need to rely on the expertise and specialization of others to fulfill the corporate strategy. What the leader needs to be is the collaborator, the inspiration for their team to always be increasing their learning. Leaders must do their best to make sure they hire the best talent and that their team members understand the values of the organization and the project goals. In addition, effective leaders today make sure their team have the resources they need… and then get out of the way.

O. Wilson says, “We are drowning in information but starving for wisdom.” Millennials and especially Gen Z’s will have the most education… and it will be the Gen X’s who will have the bulk of the experience… the wisdom. If the greatest resource is information, the greatest skill will be the ability to focus that information… to think critically and make important decisions wisely and quickly. The successful teams and leaders today and tomorrow will be those that share each other’s strengths… who rely on each other to make fast-paced, informed, creative decisions.

I hope you enjoyed this post… and if you are a Gen X, have an extra special day.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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The Elephant In The Room: 3 Steps As You Prepare For A Difficult Conversation

You and I have something in common – I don’t like having difficult conversations either. That said, I could write a book about how to deal with the elephant in the room and all the experiences I’ve had coaching and training others.

Avoiding or ignoring the elephant in the room doesn’t do anyone any good – including for the elephant. At work or at home, if there is a bossy or aggressive or undependable or disengaged person around I can almost guarantee:

  • Silence and denial will not make the elephant in the room go away
  • The behaviour of the elephant usually gets worse

When there is an elephant in the room it’s demotivating to everyone; they effect us deeply. They zap our energy. Nobody wants to be around people who are difficult and/or who let the people around them down. At work and at home we are less loyal and less willing to go the extra mile for difficult people. And worse yet – the constant stress of dealing with an elephant in the room is not good for our mental or physical health – a challenge for us personally, professionally and a great expense for any employer.

But do our problems (and the company problems), end there? Nope!

If the elephant in the room isn’t dealt with, other people may feel it’s OK to be their own unique version of an elephant. Yup, other people can begin behaving badly as well… because it’s tolerated. At work, new employees and new leaders who see this behavior being tolerated might learn terrible leadership and collaboration skills that can haunt them their whole career. If we do nothing we may be training new leaders and co-workers to be loud, bossy, unsupportive and dictatorial; and lets not do that – Millennials and Get Z have a bad enough reputation as it is.

No matter if you are at work or home, if you want to learn how to manage the elephant in the room and how to prepare for a difficult conversation, here are a few steps.

Step 1
Accept the elephants’ reality is based on their perspective and they may not be evil. Begin with kindness and give them the benefit of the doubt; they may not realize the impact they are having. Or, they may (mistakenly), see their toxic nature as a good thing – as an effective, productive way to quickly getting things done.

Step 2
Help your elephant be self-aware and see other people’s perspective. Help your elephant see the negative impact they are having on other people. Help your elephant see that other peoples perspectives are as valid as their own.Perspectivist : Perspectivism

If at work, help your elephant in the room see the negative impact on the project, creativity and morale including the longer-term costs to their career, employee loyalty and company success.

Step 3
The elephant must make a decision to work toward change… or to not change and accept the impact of their decision.

If they decide to work toward change you both must recognize change doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a struggle. If the elephant is willing to work with you, help them tap into their empathy. One way to do this is to demonstrate your empathy, compassion and curiosity.

Also, come to an agreement early on that you will manage each other’s triggers and frustration. Agree you will both stay open, present, patient, listen and trust each other to be honest. Agree that getting angry will not help.

Once you have done steps 1 – 3, share your story with them. What do you see? How do you feel? What are the short-term and long-term consequences of their actions / behaviour?

Don’t be judgmental and don’t attack; be supportive. If you attack them they will stop listening and either shut down or attack back… or both (almost all of us react this way when attacked). Ask them to share their story – their point of view. Be open to listening. Doing this will help both of you stay present, open and engaged.

This sounds easy but it is not. Change will often include difficult conversations.

Through your story, share how their actions affect you / others. For example:

“Bobby, I see you are trying. I also see that you are falling behind schedule and this is impacting the whole team, putting your success, their success and the project success at risk. I’ve seen you do better Bobby, so I’m worried. I notice that you often come to work late and leave early without taking work you can do off-site. Can you tell me what is going on because I want to work with you to come up with a plan to get XYZ done? I don’t want to have to remove you from the project.”

When you share your story / your perspective, you help the elephant see clearly. And when you listen you will also learn why the elephant in the room is behaving the way they are.

They key things to remember are to be honest; don’t be manipulative. They have to feel you want to get to a good outcome – not create more tension. Listen to their story. If you listen to them they will be more open to listening to you.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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Should We Call Millennials… ‘Millennials’?

I was recently asked about an article published in the Ottawa Citizen titled ‘Liberal government advised not to call young people ‘Millennials’ lest they be insulted’ which writes, “Don’t call young people ‘Millennials’ because they find the term offensive.” The article references focus groups conducted for Employment and Social Development Canada.Fragile Millennial

Here is my view. We are not finding a solution if we drop the word ‘Millennial’. The word ‘Millennial’ isn’t the challenge, the challenge is our intention… it’s that so many people use it to refer to this generation being ‘lazy, entitled, distracted, self-absorbed, impatient’… I can go on. What many people don’t talk about is how this generation is ‘smart, creative, want meaningful work, are socially responsible and motivated (when motivated in the right way)’… I can go on here as well.

Millennials (and Gen Z), are not as fragile as many people think!!!

Let’s realize we could call any generation ‘Gold Dust’ but if we only speak poorly about them we will all learn to find the term offensive. Even the words ‘Gold Dust’ would become a derogatory and insulting label that would elicit strong negative connotations. When we make decisions about someone’s character and abilities (especially negative decisions), based on age, culture, gender or any other characteristic, we are identifying ourselves as the challenge.

It’s not about the labels we call each other, it’s about
learning as much as we can about each other.

It’s good for our relationships, our workspaces and good for society when we cultivate positive intention and positive emotions. We will build compassion. This isn’t about tolerating a different person, a different point of view or a different generation… it’s about making positive choices to learn as much as we can about each other and to reward collaboration over competition.

For example, when I facilitate Generational Differences training I often begin by saying that if I were faced with a problem to solve, I would rather a room filled with Millennials than a room without. I want Millennials because of the freshness, creativity, comfort using technology they bring. I want them because most enjoy collaboration and they work hard when given challenging and important work… and not immediately restricted / controlled as to how they SHOULD solve it. I don’t describe their faults, I introduce their positive nature. Maybe it’s coincidence, but I don’t think so… but I have not been asked to stop referring to them as Millennials. Quite the opposite – they sit up and often become very engaged in the conversation / training. In short, they do what they love doing… they contribute… they share their voice… they collaborate.

Most Millennials work hard when given challenging, important work.
Most Boomers and Gen X work hard also.

If you are holding onto a negative impression of a person, a generation or a culture, I encourage you to do a bit of self-reflection to explore how your negative impression is benefiting you… emotionally or otherwise. You may discover you have some intrinsic motivation (personal or professional benefit), that makes you want to hold onto your belief. Step outside of your comfort zone. When you feel awkwardness, this may be a good signal that you have an opportunity to change some misconceptions that may be holding you… and holding others back.

How can you change your perspective about Millennials… or any other person, generation or culture? Using Millennials as an example… talk with some about their interests, their hopes, dreams, fears. Get to know them… be curious. What has it been like growing up? Share what it was like for you to grow up…and your interests, hopes, dreams and fears. It’s amazing what happens when we have a conversation and learn about each other. This may not be easy at first — your first few conversations might be a bit awkward, but you will get the hang of it. Approach the conversations with positive thoughts and kindness… with the objective to understand – not judge.

In the end, you may agree with me that there is nothing wrong with identifying someone from one generation or another. There are many generational characteristics of Millennials we should all embrace. Same with Boomers and Gen X.  Same with Gen Z. But, let’s look at the opportunities the individual brings to our relationships and our organization based on their life experiences and how these experiences have helped them evolve… as well as their values and what excites them. Oh, and then… let’s not forget their experiences and education. Let’s explore what the ‘People’ we hire can do vs. what they cannot do.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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An Introduction To Gen Z

Now is the time to prepare for a future with Gen Z employees, and as a bonus you’ll likely increase your retention of Millennials as well.

What Are Gen Zs Like?

Gen Zs (also called Homelanders, iGen, Gen Edge), are born between 1995 and 2012; the oldest are 22 years old. While there are only a small percentage in the employment market now, there are many that are in college and university… getting ready for and wanting to be your newest and brightest stars. Gen Zs are a population about the same size as Millennials and within a few years Gen Zs and Millennials will be the dominate energy in the workforce.Millennials At Work Enjoy Learning

In many ways, Gen Z’s are like uber-Millennials.

Millennial children have been told by their Boomer parents they are special, to be confident and they should not settle. Gen Zs have been told much the same thing from their Gen X parents. Ironically, when at work Boomer and Gen X bosses label this confidence narcissistic and entitled.

Gen Z Are Conservative

Gen Zs are conservative like their great-grandparents – the Silent Generation. How can that be? Consider, Gen Zs have grown up in a post 9/11 environment. They have always known global conflict, global terrorism and have lived through 3 recessions. Gen Zs have also seen their Gen X parents being laid off, right-sized and down-sized.

On the home front, Gen Zs also grew up with bike helmets, parents who say, “Call when you get there”, personal GPS, smart-phones, bottled water, side-impact baby carriages, rubber baby spoons vs. metal, non-spillable sippy cups, seat belts, etc.

Translation; their world has always been full of potential risk that they have had to watch out for. These and many other social and economic environments, have molded Gen Zs to be more conservative and take fewer risks than their Millennial brothers and sisters.

Gen Z Don’t See Technology As A Perk

If your organization is using hardware or software that is 2, 3 or more years out of date, Gen Zs will see that as a red flag.

Technology is not a bonus for them – it is an expected investment into their own personal future as well as that of the organization. Consider, Gen Zs’ parents did their best to give their children the latest hardware and software. Their Universities and Colleges also had the latest technology.

If Gen Zs feel they are falling behind their friends / peers in experience or knowledge, their employer will have a retention problem as these highly mobile employees job-hop. So, is it better to invest in the latest hardware and software, or spend money hiring and training new employees over and over again… and keep your out of date technology?

Working Hours / Working Spaces

Gen Zs have always been plugged in – doing homework and connecting with friends around the world. They are tech savvy and see flexibility as efficient. They want to work when they have an idea vs. when they are in the office at their assigned desk. Some autonomy and workplace flexibility will be important to them.

The flexibility that Gen Zs prefer is a BONUS for organizations embracing open-concept and flexible work spaces. It is being proven that flexible, open-concept work spaces spawn creativity and sometimes unexpected, organic cross-functional teams.


Gen Zs believe they are good multi-taskers, and yet researchers like Daniel Kahneman who referenced in his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ have proven very few people are good multitaskers when it comes to doing strategic, complicated and/or unfamiliar tasks.

But, are Gen Zs good at uncomplicated and/or familiar activities? Sure – in fact they may be better at this than any other generation. They have spent their lives being stimulated and entertained. They have listened to music, played video games, watched TV (online), texted friends, attempted homework and chatted on SnapChat all at once.

Gen Zs seem to be very good at blocking out familiar, low-priority distractions (or white noise / grey noise). They may even miss the noise if it’s not there. As a leader this is important to know because we may have to help them learn how to manage distractions. For example, we might agree that headphones are accepted while they do research – but insist that when writing the final report that they put aside their distractions… including the ding-ding-ding of incoming email messages.

How To Motivate Gen Zs

Motivation is a challenge I often hear from Leaders.

There is potential for great motivation. One of the best approaches I can recommend is to trust Gen Zs. When you trust Gen Zs (and Millennials), to work with you to find their ‘best working environment’ they will not want to break your trust. It’s about understanding what commitments you / they want to focus on and then how to organize those commitments.

The other way to motivate Gen Zs is to make sure they see their work as creative, important, exciting and / or an opportunity to develop new skills. Workspace flexibility and/or positive reinforcement will also go a long – long way in building trust and motivating Gen Zs.

It’s important to note that plugged-in Gen Z and Millennials are easily bored and most begin to feel uncomfortable when they are bored. The challenge for most Leaders is to help their Gen Zs learn that it’s OK and be bored and to embrace this time to explore their ideas… feelings… their creativity… or to simply take a mental-rest. Boredom can be a great thing.

Keep Gen Z Accountable

Accountability may mean having a difficult conversation with them to let them know when they let you and the team down. When you do this you will help them build respect for you, the organization and themselves. They will see that their work is important and that they matter… which is a huge motivator for them.

  1. Be clear with your professional project expectations & timelines.
  2. Be clear with your quality expectations.
  3. Be clear about workplace policies – flexibility for example.
  4. Hold employees accountable for their work and quality.
  5. Provide specific, timely feedback… both positive and constructive. Note: Don’t skimp on your positive reinforcement.
  6. Do not linger on past challenges where they may have let you / the team down… but, be sure you follow point 4.


The future is coming – quickly and employers must rethink how work gets done… and how people get motivated, rewarded, engaged, committed and trusting.

Any leader and/or organization that is concerned with their team members’ will be able to find ways to inspire loyally and build resiliance. In contrast, the leader and/or organization that shows concerns for only their success will lose the creativity, commitment and loyalty of their most valuable assets – their employees.

Happy communicating… mentoring… and collaborating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

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Why I Believe Millennials Are Marginally Motivated

In the last 3 months my ‘Hiring, Motivating and Retaining Millennials’ workshop has been my most popular program. I’ve trained at a few companies and spoken at a golf conference, a long-term care conference and even a heavy machinery conference. No matter who my audience is, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “How do I get the best out of Millennials and keep them more than 18 months“. It’s a great question. There are many concerned leaders who believe Millennials are only ‘marginally motivated’ when it comes to their work.

That’s what I would like to address over the next few minutes. My goal is to share three key reasons why I believe Millennials are marginally motivated at work.

Reason 1: We Don’t Hire The Right People

Some Millennials take jobs that are not in their chosen profession. You may wonder, ‘Why would someone take work they don’t really want?’ The simple truth is many Millennials may need the money, or they may be tired of looking for work, or perhaps they want to make sure there isn’t a gap in their resume. There are many reasons why a Millennial might compromise, and whatever the reason, it is not good for you or for them.

If your new Millennial employee feels they are compromising (and my Millennial At Work Survey research says that many Millennials feel they have to compromise), it’s not surprising that during that time with you they will be ‘Marginally Motivated’ and you’ll only get 50%, 60% or perhaps 70% of their effort. In addition, it should not surprising that they keep looking for work they really do want.

This is why it is critical to hire the right people. When you hire people whose career goals and personal values reflect the work and your corporate values, you will have engaged employees. When you use a hiring process that is measurable, accountable and reliable, you will have lower-than-average turnover and lower-than-average training expenses. In addition, all of your other success indicators will move in the right direction. If you are not using a formal hiring process it’s like gambling in Las Vegas… it’s risky, based on chance and will likely be expensive when you lose.

Reason 2: We All Excel When Respected

Millennials want to be respected and valued. They also want to feel they are making a contribution and want professional development opportunities. Lets face it, we all excel when we are respected, valued and feel we are making a contribution. You know that when you love something you spend lots of time doing it… you many even volunteer to do more of it.

The difference between Millennials and everyone else is that if a Millennial doesn’t feel they are growing / acquiring new skills or making a difference, they quickly feel frustrated and lose interest… which is why people think they are ‘Marginally Motivated’. And, because many parents of Millennials have not done a great job of teaching their kids patience, even if Millennials are working in their chosen profession, when they feel frustrated you will begin to have a retention problem.

NOTE: Millennials are life-long learners – these are values their Boomer and Gen X parents instilled in them.

Reason 3: Millennials Want Meaningful Work

Millennials see work as part of their whole life, something they want to enjoy and is / will be something that fulfills them. Millennials want their work to be meaningful and even (for many), a place where they make friends with their co-workers / leaders. Millennials also perform better when they are given frequent, positive reinforcement / encouragement.

Giving frequent reward and motivation to each employee isn’t ‘natural’ for Boomers. For 30 plus years Baby Boomers were the primary employment market. In addition (and this is critically important), for the most part each of them shared very similar goals. Generally speaking, Boomers never thought of work as a place to fulfill their passions. Boomers wanted stability; they didn’t want to take risks (and since change equals risk… it was bad). What Boomers wanted was mutual loyalty, to pay their mortgage and to collect wealth (which would give them even more stability). Very few Millennials share these values – for now at least.


Does this sound like too much effort? I hope not. Employers can only insulate themselves from Millennials (and the upcoming Gen Z), for so long. Soon, most of the Boomers will have retired and the largest workforce will be Millennials.

In case you don’t sense it, I do believe Millennials are hard-working, creative and loyal as long as we hire the right Millennial and support them / motivate them in the way that meets their individual, personal and professional goals. And, while they do want to be loyal, they do not expect to work for one company their whole career.

The benefits of hiring Millennials and motivating them as unique individuals is tremendously profitable. And this holds true for people of all generations. When a company is able to keep highly motivated employees (not marginally motivated employees), for five or more years instead of the two years so many employers are experiencing… and even expecting… it translates into a great pay-off (and saving), for the company AND a great learning experience for each employee.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating, coaching… and training.

Click here to learn more about Bruce Mayhew Consulting. We facilitate training courses and speak on a number of topics including email etiquette, time management, leadership, generational differences and more.

What Leaders Should Know About Intrinsic Motivation & Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation are important engagement opportunities that have very different results.

Extrinsic motivation is what many of us are familiar with; it’s the primary way Boomers and Gen Xers have been rewarded throughout their working career. It’s how we most often motivate children as well. Extrinsic motivation is based on earning a reward (like money $$ or praise), or avoiding something undesirable. It’s motivation by carrot or stick. Extrinsic motivation is also often the most expensive and the least effective way to motivate employees over long periods of time. As a good friend and Chief Financial Offices (CFO) says, “Money is an external reward and a lousy motivator, it’s good for a week or two and then forgotten.” screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-10-16-16-am

Intrinsic motivation is when we find doing something personally satisfying. It’s the engagement that often leads us to choose our career in the first place. Intrinsic reward supports long-term motivation and professional development that is rooted in taking pride in our work – not making your boss happy so he/she will give you a raise. It’s why many of us volunteer, or paint, play a musical instrument or garden. It’s why we enjoyed curling up with a good book when we were a kid… and still do now.

The easiest way to ruin a persons satisfaction and pride in their work (intrinsic motivation) is to monetize it (give them money $$ for doing something they enjoy). Studies have shown that intrinsic motivation will decrease when external rewards (extrinsic rewards), are given.

Example 1: I know a lady who loved to bake cookies and cakes – she took great pride in them and they were delicious and beautiful. So she started a bakery business and soon had an employee and lots of clients. She felt stress in keeping clients happy, and managing the employee, and there were deliveries and… and… and. Worst of all she no longer baked to relax and enjoy herself. She closed her business.

Example 2: In an experiment to test motivation, psychologist and professor Edward L. Deci studied two groups of students who enjoyed playing puzzle games. The 1st group was paid whenever they solved a puzzle; the other group played for no monetary reward. Deci noticed that the 1st group stopped working on the puzzles when they stopped being paid. The 2nd group continued to solve puzzles because they continued to enjoy the game. By offering extrinsic motivation, the 1st group were trained to see puzzles as work.

All too often our parents, leaders, coworkers… and even ourselves focus only on…or mostly on extrinsic rewards. This begins to cause problems as we disconnect with what feeds our heart… our spirit… our humanity. Instead, we are trained to ignore our natural spirit and instead focus only on (mostly on), physical – short-term recognition / respect. So, what is the real benefit and what can we do?

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Pride

The impact of intrinsic rewards on an employee’s self-management is great. An intrinsically motivate employee will likely stay late to finish an important project – not because they have to… or want to please their boss/customer. Because of this pride, they will routinely go the extra mile because it makes them happy and… this pride makes them want to be loyal… a win/win.

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Employee Loyalty

Employees who are self-motivated, proud of their work and feel they are making a difference often also demonstrate greater employee loyalty. BMC have seen this in our Millennial At Work study.

If employees are intrinsically motivated they will not quit to go to a company that pays a bit more – they stay with a company that respects them and gives them greater autonomy. Their loyalty will be largely derived from work life balance and how much they enjoy their work – and the company. Pride makes a difference; they stay with the company that feeds their spirit.

Intrinsic rewards mean people feel good about feeling good about what they are doing / thinking.

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Professional Development

Extrinsic motivation isn’t all-bad – it actually plays an important part in the learning / teaching process – especially helping learners overcome the frustration of acquiring new skills. Positive reinforcement and praise (extrinsic motivation), helps people keep trying – keep learning. Unfortunately, we all-too-often only reward professional development on extrinsic motivation. We don’t include motivation that helps people feel a sense of personal pride and accomplishment in their newly acquired skill. Ultimately this means that the learners will not fully invest in adopting new skills. Instead they feel pride in getting praise for their work… and will need it again and again. This is a problem I hear all the time from Baby Boomers when I give Generational Differences training.

What Can We Do? How Can We Use Intrinsic Rewards?

Intrinsic rewards help individuals find satisfaction in ‘doing’ of their work or task as much as the end result. The journey is as important as the destination. I’ve mentioned in other posts, there are 4 very effective ways to develop intrinsic motivation in others. From your children to your employees, help them see and ‘feel’:

  1. C – Competence / Mastery… learning new things – gaining  and/or using an expertise.
  2. A – Autonomy / Choice… what to work on, when and how
  3. R – Relevance / Purpose… why the work is meaningful – important
  4. P – Progress… what they are doing is adding to the greater good or perhaps they are gaining experience.


The last 50 or so years we got used to extrinsically rewards but we forget to help people feel good about feeling good about their work or what they are learning. As leaders we’ve underestimated the importance of intrinsic rewards and its low-cost… and instead have got used to thinking of financial rewards as the primary way to motivate.

Intrinsic rewards are a strong win/win for organizations that want to stay innovative and retain great, inspired, happy and proud employees. Research has shown that when people are proud, feel like they are making a difference and feel some ownership of how they structure their time at work they stick around… and they do great work.

Happy communicating… and mentoring… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.


Coaching Millennials At Work, Choice Magazine Article

Last week an article I wrote about Coaching Millennials At Work had been published in ‘Choice Magazine’ – A Coaching Magazine.

The article speaks to the importance of being a coach – a mentor and a leader when working with Millennials. Work with them well and you will have a loyal, creative, hard working employee. Don’t… and you will be hiring again soon – likely before their 2-year anniversary with your company.

With little fanfare… here is the article. I hope you enjoy.



Please feel free to share – and to contact me with questions.


Executive Coach & Trainer  | Difficult Conversation Training  |  Business Email Etiquette   |  Time Management Training   |   Collaboration Skills  |  Generational Differences At Work  |  Motivating Millennials  |  Leadership Training  |  Behavioral Event Interview (BEI)  |  Creating & Using Stories

Imagine confidently communicating with your customers and co-workers.

“Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine  of professional coaching  <;;

Teach Millennials How To Be Great Leaders

When we think of great leaders we think of people who have leadership qualities like goal setting, inspiration, dedication, honesty, trustworthiness and so many other positive qualities. Millennials on the other hand are often described as lazy, entitled, selfish and many more negativedescriptions. However, when the right Millennial is hired for the right job these descriptions are not valid… especially when they are mentored by a great leader.

If you are a great leader it’s likely you learned it along the way from a combination of opportunities like:Leaders Values Millennials

  • Trial & error.
  • You had great mentors.
  • You studied / read leadership books.
  • You paid attention to good and bad examples of leadership.

Very few people are natural-born leaders. Lets not cast aside Millennials as hopeless. Instead, lets intentionally teach / mentor Millennials how to be great leaders.

When you have the right person in the right job, Millennials (like most people) are self-motivated and full of potential. So it’s up to their parents, professors, HR professionals and managers to make sure they are demonstrating the best leadership qualities for today’s ever-changing business market.

The challenge for them is to not learn poor leadership styles some of us have had to un-learn from that one really bad boss we once had. You know, the boss who had the Top-down / Carrot-Stick leadership style poplar post WWII when jobs were linear, repetitive and boring. The reality is that today most jobs are far from linear, repetitive and boring.

What are some of the lessons we have to make sure we are both
using – and teach Millennials how to be leaders?

Here is a list of 6 important lessons that will help teach Millennials how to be leaders.

1) Help Them Recognize Their Values And Their Importance

Most Millennials have wonderful values like compassion, charity/philanthropy, creativity, collaboration and achievement… and are not usually strong on values like conformity and tradition. Learning to recognize their strengths and values… and the strengths and values of others (and the organization), is critical to them being a great leader. Help your Millennials by teaching them the importance of values when making decisions and communicating.

When the time comes for your organization to review your mission, vision and values, let all of your employees contribute to your mission, vision and value statements. Demonstrate that great leaders make sure everyone have a respectful opportunity to contribute.

2) Be Their Mentor – Not Just Their Boss

The best leaders are effective because they know what they are best at and they lead with those skills. To create effective millennial leaders we must help them first understand their own gifts and talents. Help them identify what these skills are so they can use them to make informed decisions. Help them also see their gaps not as failures – but as opportunities to rely on (and develop), other people.

3) Be Authentic And Transparent

Authenticity and fairness come naturally to most Millennials. They grew up being encouraged to explore their individuality and to accept others for who they are no matter of their differences. As their leader, demonstrate that being authentic and transparent is important in their professional life.

Show Millennials that what they say and what they do matters and will be respected – especially in difficult times or during difficult conversations.

4) Be Trustworthy

Autonomy ranks very high on a Millennials list. Sure they love working in teams and are some of the best / least territorial collaborators… and yet, like most of us, Millennials love some independence. Trusting individuals to control their schedule is important. They will also enjoy when their collaboration team enjoys some project autonomy.

By trusting  Millennials (and other generations), you deepen commitment by demonstrating your respect for them and their opinions / talents.

5) Be Confident… And Flexible

Being confident about goals and objectives is terrific – but being flexible is also advantageous. Great leaders know that other people’s ideas and experiences often bring an approach and creativity that wasn’t previously considered and may make the project even better. This also supports your plan to offer employees more autonomy.

6) Teach Millennials How To Listen

Millennials love to learn – so remind them they can’t learn while they’re talking… only when they’re listening. Great leaders understand how powerful listening is in building relationships and respect.

Teach your Millennials not just to listen, but to demonstrate they are listening and care about what they hear. Like any good news reporter, encourage them to ask powerful questions… and to listen to the response.


Millennials have the ability to become great leaders. We just need to teach them to recognize and lead from their innate strengths, communicate effectively, listen well and be transparent in what they do. Start today and lets awaken the leaders of tomorrow!

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:


Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Work-Life Balance & Results Only Work Environments (ROWE): Myth or Reality?

I feel there is a resurgence to strive for work-life balance… with work as the evil twin in the relationship. But to find something you have to first know what you’re looking for… so…. ‘What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance is very personal. It’s different among co-workers doing the same or similar work; it’s different for each partner in a relationship; it’s different for each of your friends. Even your definition of work life balance will change over time… especially if you:

  • Have / adopt a child
  • Get a promotion / change jobs
  • Move
  • Inherit money
  • etc. etc.

Work-Life Balance Is More Achievable Than Ever

While we’ve been striving for balance for decades, I think it’s more achievable than ever for a few reasons:

  • Awareness / Desire
  • Technology (Assists collaboration, information sharing and much more)
  • More work is thought based
  • Millennial expectations and influence
  • Organizations are realizing it’s cost effective

I do a fair amount of Productivity & Time Management Training and I hear over and over how many of us do a few hours of quality work after dinner before we hit the sack. Is that wrong – or is that the new way of working? I’m certain that work-life balance is showing us flexibility is possible and integration is the new norm.

Older Productivity & Time Management Training Studies Are Right… But…

There are tons of studies that demonstrate we are at our strategic – creative best in the morning. That’s why traditional best practices suggest avoiding mundane, low-strategy work until the afternoon and to protect evenings as valuable family time (and give your brain a rest).

But what about parents who don’t go to bed at 10PM and wake refreshed at 6AM… or the typical Millennial who is used to integrating all parts of their life (which now means work), throughout their day and evening? More and more people follow a nontraditional schedule where free time might be ‘when they can schedule a spare hour’.

I’m not saying this older model is wrong, I just think it needs to become more flexible. I believe that after a good rest everyone is more creative and more strategic… and as we become tired it makes sense that we become less creative and strategic (throughout an 8 or 10 hour marathon work day).

So, what if we changed the rules? What if we began taking mental breaks throughout the day? We all experience feeling refreshed and bright again after a break (even if our ‘break’ was going to the gym).Results Only Work Environment

Enter ROWE (Results Only Work Environment).

With a ROWE, it doesn’t matter when an employee does their work or where they do it, as long as they meet agreed-upon project goals on time and on budget. Employees get to decide where and when they work – and what they work on.

If employees are required to get to an office they are punching a time clock – even if there isn’t a time clock in sight.

ROWE’s are a BIG opportunity for organizations to reduce costs while increasing productivity, creativity, employee morale and employee loyalty… especially in cities like Toronto, Vancouver, New York or LA where the average commute is at least an hour.”

How You Can Build a ROWE Performance-Driven Work Culture

Critical to your success is to have measurable results and hold employees accountable for their work. It’s also important to cut the connection between salary and goals because $$ can actually demotivate your employees (see previous blog: Link).

Make sure your employees work stands for something. I believe some of the key responsibilities of leaders is to help employees take pride in their work, reflect on what they have learned, and to see how their efforts make a difference for the company and/or their customers. That’s the kind of leader I want to be.

Take companies like Influitive in Toronto that develop Marketing solutions for Corporate clients – or Fireman & Company an international management consulting firm that specializes in the legal industry. Both of these organizations operate with a ROWE and benefit from having employees in different time zones and / or countries.

The added beauty of a ROWE is that organizations are able to hire the best talent from anywhere in the world – not being limited to geography… like within an hours drive.

Do Flexible Work Hours Count?

Flexible work hours count but are not a ROWE. A flexible schedule that allows an employee to come in at 6AM and leave at 3PM is still all about organizational control and making sure people put their bum in a seat; flexible work hours just provide a few more options. So it’s important to ask – do you want to make sure people show up… or are you more concerned about what they accomplish and the quality of their work?

If you are interested in what your employees accomplish (not where or when they do it), you have already making the mental transition to a Results Only Work Environment.

Autonomy at work is one of the greatest motivators emerging in today’s workforce. Autonomy is about setting your own work schedule with your teammates to ensure the people responsible do the work on time, on budget, and exceed expectations. This approach of ‘anonymity’, ‘team work’ and ‘self improvement’ is high – and I mean really high for Millennials.

ROWE Will Attract Loyal Millennials… And Other Generations

Millennials are known to have a more entrepreneurial spirit, wanting more anonymity along with mentoring. ROWE and anonymity helps employees feel like they are their own boss – even when working for a large organization. It helps employees design their own work-life balance. This can be a perfect solution for the organization trying to integrate Millennials into their work environments but having challenges with loyalty.

ROWE allows all employees (Millennials and other generations), to choose… to be in control of how, when, where and often what they are working on. For ROWE to exist it has to be supported by reliable metrics goals, objectives. It also means that reward has to reach beyond extrinsic motivators like $$… and must be supported by intrinsic motivators like C.A.P.S. (see previous blog: Link).

As time goes on I believe it will be an employees job-market… and employee flexibility will be key. With this new generation coming in, conversations are going to change between employers and labor unions about employees wants / needs and their productivity.

  1. Many Millennials don’t separate work and life or work and family / community.
  2. Millennials see work-life balance is whatever they are doing (volunteer, work, cooking, relaxation etc). I recently spoke with a Millennial and they said, “Work is in my life – my life doesn’t act outside of paid time – it happens all the time and this way I don’t have to miss out on any part of my life.”

It’s Critical To Measure Deliverables

When you measure deliverables and quality you can measure an employees real performance… and, over time a pattern always forms. As leaders, we all know the employee we can count on and the employee we can not count on… even though they both spend valuable time each day commuting to your office… IE: punching a time clock.

The anonymity employees want becomes their responsibility. They are ultimately responsible for their deliverables and therefore, their impact on everything else including their personal and professional reputation.

Involve your employees in all aspects of a project. Get their ideas on how to track the work – not the hours. ROWE has to be a corporate culture – and you have to hire the right people. You have to hire people based on values, ambition AND talent. Far too often we hire people on talent or who we like…. Therefore… people most like ourselves. EEEK.

This Blog is getting far too long, so in my next Blog I will further explore questions like:

  • Won’t employees abuse their freedom?
  • How to integrate ROWE into my work structure?

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:


Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.


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