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.

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Best Time Management Books

Sure this is subjective. But as a corporate trainer and coach I’ve read a lot and do a lot of Time Management training.

I’ve customized my Time Management training course based on my experience and what I’ve read / studied. Because of my experience I see first-hand what time management techniques make sense to professionals,  what tips people are able to adopt quickly… and what time management tips don’t work well.

I often get asked what I feel are the best time management books. Even though not everything in every book will help every person, I offer you this list.

Please note – they are not in a specify order. All images and names are Copyright.

Getting Things Done


In Getting Things Done, David Allen shares his methods increased performance. David’s approach is one that suggests that when we are calm and organized our productivity and creativity goes up.

I agree; being mindful of our goals lets us prioritize what we do and when we do it.




The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People


In The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen R. Covey shares his 7 steps. Without doubt it’s my most highlighted, underlined and used time management book.

Stephen goes beyond Time Management and indirectly gets into how to be a good people manager and leader.



The Now Habit


In The Now Habit, Dr. Neil Fiore looks at the impact of procrastination. It’s one of the biggest challenges I see / hear of when I deliver time management training.

Dr. Fiore shares the good and bad impact of procrastination – and how when we are aware we can all make the right choice.




The One Minute Manager


In The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have great theories that work well with a multigenerational audience; One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Reprimands.

Even though it’s been around for over 20 years this book is still relevant.







In Rework Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson give us the updated approach to work, work/life balance, innovation and reward.

It’s not really a time management book – but one that looks at all aspects of business and innovation and explores how to do it differently / better in our current environment.




I hope you enjoy my perspective of the best time management books.  Please note I am not (unfortunately), being paid to support / review any of these books.  Also, all proprietary images and names are copyright and owned by someone – not me.

I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier and The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

Happy communicating and Time Management.

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Digital Etiquette

Digital etiquette are guidelines on how to use the internet to increase engagement, productivity while not annoying people. In other words, how office etiquette can build – not hurt your reputation.

As with face-to-face communication, one of the best things to remember when considering digital etiquette is there is a real person receiving your message. This means they have their own needs, pressures, time constraints and frustrations… just like you. So, communicate with them with patience and thoughtfulness just like you want others to use when they communicate with you.Digital Etiquette

Digital etiquette protects your reputation and by extension is important for your productivity. If people see that you demonstrate respectful and trustworthy behaviours, they will not only want to work with you – they will go out of their way to work with you. Digital etiquette will also increases the chances that people will give you the information you need when you need it and therefore improving your productivity even further.

Here are a few of my favourite digital etiquette / office etiquette best practices

Keep Your Computer Virus Free

You don’t want to be the person / company that sends a client an email with a virus. Even if you are lucky and their system catches it before it does harm, you will have lost personal and professional trust – maybe so badly you may lose the relationship (especially if it did infect their system).

Digital etiquette when it comes to computer viruses is very important because the result can be very costly in many ways.

Use Consistent And Approved Technology

If your office uses PowerPoint for presentations, don’t begin to use another package. You may be more familiar with the another package and perhaps it does have more flexibility… but by using it your co-workers may see you as arrogant. Also, your fantastic presentation may not get seen if your associates and/or clients don’t have the software needed to run it.

If you feel strongly that the company would be better off with different / new technology, follow smart office etiquette by submitting to your executive team asking for approval. That’s how you get a reputation as a visionary not a trouble maker.

Digital Etiquette Means Using The Phone – Not Email

One of the most important business email etiquette best practices is to not use email.

It is often better to use the phone (or walk down the hall), especially if you have complicated things to discuss. Phone calls and face-to-face are also much better ways to build personal relationships.

In urgent situations, phone calls or face-to-face is also better. I recommend sending an email and phoning; this way email is a great back-up because they may see it if they are in a meeting – and therefore can step out of the meeting.

Only Open Email When You’re Ready

Email comes in 7/24 and if you have all of your alerts on it’s very tempting to interrupt what you are doing and look/answer. That is a hugh negative impact on your productivity (and perhaps relationships).

Another email etiquette best practice is to turn off your personal email notifications. My recommendation is to only check email a few times per day (I know – easier said than done). The objective is to plan on spending a few hours each day (especially in the morning), without email or phone notifications so you can focus on your Important Work. It is proven that almost everyone of use is at our strategic / intellectual best in the morning, so, the last thing you want to do is lose that brainpower responding to email.

Confirm Your Objective Before Hitting Send

Especially if you are angry it’s important you reread; anger will come through loud and clear… and you may not want to share your anger with your clients. Doing this is a life-saver when it comes to digital etiquette and your reputation.

Even when you are having a terrific day, take some time and be sure you are meeting the important objectives before you hit send.

BONUS Digital Etiquette Best Practice

We all know that email can be a huge waste of time so I hope that these tips will help you out. Here are a few more quick digital etiquette / business email etiquette best practices.

    • Don’t assume the recipient knows all the details. Remember – the person you are writing to doesn’t have your knowledge or experience; so did you give them enough information… or too much? Tone can be easily misconstrued.
    • Make sure your subject lines are relevant. Conversations about different subjects are more easily tracked when you use a relevant subject line… especially when you get email on different topics from the same person – which us common at work.
    • Use email signatures. A great email signature has your name, title, company name and phone number. Sometimes they include a link to your company’s website, but be careful – some company servers are blocking email that have web links.

Happy communicating using digital etiquette.

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John Nash’s Game Theory Applied To HR & Leadership

Nash’s Game Theory has intrigued me of late. I like how although it is often used in economics, Nash’s Game Theory can be applied to everyday situations including how people can make engaged and thoughtful businesses decisions.

That said, this theory wasn’t all 100% Nash’s. Using a technology term, Nash “upgraded” an existing theory proposed by von Neumann and Morgenstern.

von Neumann and Morgenstern Zero Sum Game

Von Neumann and Morgenstern proposed that the best decisions is when individuals approached decision-making as a zero-sum theory, or (in my interpretation), if I win you have to lose. The concept is that if we as individuals all work at winning, in the long run we will all do better.

Thankfully, most real-life situations are not usually zero-sum so this theory often falls short.

Nash’s Game Theory

John Nash Game Theory

Bruce Mayhew interpretation: Nash’s Game Theory vs. von Neumann and Morgenstern Zero Sum Game

Nash saw a better way to make decisions by pushing the zero-sum theory closer to altruism (again in my interpretation), altruism being an ethical philosophy in which the happiness of the greatest number of people within the society is accepted as the greatest good (source business dictionary). Nash believed that the best solution is when we consider what is best for the individual (zero-sum), AND the group.

I agree that zero-sum is a poor way to run a company or a department. Considering that when one person wins and the majority lose is disheartening. From the point of view of a business leader, my belief (and there are many general studies that support this), is that if work is a zero-sum game, it destroys collaborative team dynamics, individual motivation, costs go up, production & quality goes down and soon employment turnover goes up.

But Nash’s theory provides a simple mathematical equation for modeling any number of competitive situations. Nash’s equilibrium as it is sometimes called, offers the idea that a best response equilibrium exists. Again, from the point of view of a business leader, consider it a theory that guides us to use empathy and our listening skills to prioritize our actions so that we can make decisions that serve our purpose and do the best to support others impacted. Those impacted can represent our co-workers, clients, investors or even the environment.

Fredrick Herzbers Motivation – Hygiene Theory

If you let me take a leap of faith, in the HR world we can better support the collaborative idea of individual and team benefit by using elements of psychologist Fredrick Herzbers Motivation – Hygiene theory as guides to what benefits the company (ROI because it is important and what almost all decisions include), AND the greater good.

Fredrick Herzbers Motivation – Hygiene theory studies Factors for Satisfaction and Factors for Dissatisfaction (which are not opposite and which I promise to write on soon). For example, Herzberg’s research identified true Factors for Satisfaction motivators were:

  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. Work (as in respectful work)
  4. Responsibility
  5. Advancement

How many times do you make decisions also considering the impact those decisions make on Herzberg’s 5 Factors for Satisfaction? If you don’t, you may be making decisions that have short-term gain but long-term negative impact on productivity, employee engagement, quality, customer satisfaction and employment turnover… all things that are very expensive costs for the organization.

Staying with the idea of HR, motivation and job satisfaction, one of Nash’s truisms is that even when working toward the greater good, there is often more than one best response. This was an early criticism of Nash’s theory, but one that I think we should celebrate. Why? Because choice and change are exciting. Because our personal and professional needs, goals, likes and dislikes are different which means that within a collaborative team where each person giving their unique best, there will be many ways for the team to meet their goal. If one person was taken away from or added to the team – the team would still find a great solution… but it would likely be a bit different.


The long and the short of it (that sounds like my dad speaking), is that if the purpose of economic theories is to predict which one (single), outcome will occur, Nash’s methodology doesn’t help. But, what it does do is give us space to explore options where we try to find a solution where we all win.

Happy communicating.

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Time Management Quiz

This Time Management Quiz may be just what you need to help you focus on your priorities.

At 15 questions, this time management quiz will only take you a minute or two to complete. It’s a snapshot of the time management questions I’ve designed when I customize time management training and quiz’s for clients.

Time management is about what you do with the time you have – and how you feel. Do you feel good about what you accomplish – or stressed? Are you inspired, engaged and enjoying your time at work and with family/ friends – or are you not quite there?

This time management quiz will help you evaluate your priorities and best of all, it will help you immediately identify any areas of your time management where you need assistance.

Before you do one more thing, take this short time management quiz and see how you are doing.

Time Management Quiz by Time Management Training Facilitator, Bruce Mayhew Consulting.

Time Management Quiz by Time Management Facilitator, Bruce Mayhew Consulting.

Thank you for taking our time Management Quiz.

Do you feel there is no way for you to be both productive at work and fulfilled in your personal life? Especially now since you took this time management quiz, do you want to make sure things change for the better?

You may be ready for time management training. Time management is less about bad behaviour as it is about habits we learn from others. So in time management training we learn how and why we can form new habits – better habits. For example: Do your coworkers expect you to drop everything to help them with their work when they ask? Time management training shows you how and why you can stay focused on your important work and still be helpful.

Our goal at Bruce Mayhew Consulting is to provide you support to improve your time management and by extension your productivity, success and happiness. We have many blog posts on this topic as well as other business etiquette topics like Managing Difficult Conversations, Working With 4 Generations, Email Etiquette and Leadership Development.

Happy Time Management and business etiquette.

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

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Leadership Styles, Leadership Qualities, Leadership Skills

Business is about people — it always has been although sometimes we forget this and put the bottom line before customers and employees needs. In the short-term we get away with the putting bottom line first, but soon goodwill begins to drop, employee and customer loyalty drops and turnover increases; creating a very risky and more expensive organizational challenge.

And while human capital is an organization’s most important asset, in today’s job market employee loyalty is low – in part I believe because employer loyalty has been on a steady decline for the last 30 plus years. Many employees wonder why they should be loyal if the company isn’t. So, most full-time employees (especially Millennials), see themselves as entrepreneurs who are working a contract and happy to move on. Why? Because all the evidence has taught them they are dispensable.

A Bruce Mayhew Consulting I enjoy helping leaders create leadership development plans and create great teams. To help you do your own not-so-quick analysis of the state of your leadership development plan, here’s an extensive list of 20 important leadership development goals.

1. Focus On Strategy

The leadership team need to know and support its business strategy, key objectives and stakeholders of the organization.

Without doubt I believe having and sharing a vision is one of the most important goals of a Leader. Their next most important role is establishing and supporting their team… what I will call Talent Management (point 2).

I’ve mentioned in some of my other blog posts how during one of my corporate jobs I had a boss who rarely shared a clear vision with the team. And he was so involved in the ‘doing’ of our work that he became a bottleneck for productivity and a significant drain on moral and creativity. The result was the department regularly missed deadlines and frustrated employees (like me), left.

2. Talent Management

This is a big area.

Leaders hire (using BEI), by thoughtfully considering the talent AND soft skills required for the job as well as the team/department.

Leaders mentor their staff to collaborate and depend on each others talents, look for opportunities to grow and to not be shy about adding their opinion or discouraged if/when another recommendation is made or someone builds upon their recommendation.

In best cases, leaders keep a written list of their employees strengths close at hand.

3. Increase Knowledge

Working hand-in-hand with Talent Management, ‘Increasing Knowledge’ is a way leaders better themself as well as inspire their team. One of my most favourite leadership qualities is to always look to improve. Increasing your knowledge or gaining a new skill keeps you fresh and open to new ideas. Whether its reading a book, finding a mentor, listening to a pod cast, group training or attending night-school, increasing your knowledge sets a motivating example to employees.

As employees see their leaders participating in training and development and reaching personal goals, they are encouraged to do the same. In addition, great leaders work with employees to plan team and individual goals. Increasing knowledge is critical at all employee levels and supportive step as they set high performance challenges and encourage employees to step out of their comfort zone.

Want to engage your team more? Turn this into a team-building, collaborative exercise by asking team members what group training they want. Work with each employee to create their personal development plan – both for their professional and personal goals.

4. Tap Into Your Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Emotional intelligence is a persons ability to draw on their soft-skills and to mindfully interact with others. Emotional intelligence builds trust and supports a mutually beneficial relationship. More technically EI founders Peter Salovey and John Mayer define EI as follows;

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.

– Mayer & Salovey, 1997

A department head that lacks emotional intelligence is just as unqualified as a department head that doesn’t have technical knowledge and experience.

5. Practice Coaching

Coaching isn’t easy.  Coaching creates an environment that’s conducive to growth – helping individuals succeed by expanding their abilities (knowledge, experience and soft skills), and move up their professional ladder. And lets not forget work/life balance.

Leaders who coach help their employees to recognize their strengths, develop their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

6. Support Collaboration

Leadership creates and maintains an environment that supports collaboration where team members respectfully share information, decision-making, responsibility, learning and recognition.

One of the most important leadership qualities is the ability to guide employees to see how their work and work habits support the greater vision and goals (personal goals, professional goals, team goals, organizational goals).

7. Motivate

Motivation often sits hand-in-hand with ‘Communication’ (point 16), and together they inspire employees to give their best. When leaders learn motivation skills they maximize effectiveness and improve employee engagement and loyalty.

Employee motivation can take many forms – from wanting to work for leaders who make decisions quickly so the team keeps moving forward (point 20), to many other non-military motivators like telling someone they did a great job and/or are a valuable part of the team.

Zenger Folkman have done lots of great research here as well.

8. Manage Off-Site

What are the chances that your next best employee lives within 50kms of your office? Slim!

More and more employers are using technology to plan, communicate and collaborate virtually with their team members. And, more and more employees are embracing the work-from-home (or Starbucks), lifestyle. Millennials are naturally used to working, managing and being managed off-site… and more and more Boomers and Gen X are seeing the personal and professional benefits.

9. Manage Difficult Conversations & Conflict

When we avoid a difficult conversations the issue can never get resolved… until valuable talent or clients leave – and then it’s just gone… not resolved. I write extensively within some of my Blog Posts and Difficult Conversation Training that when we participate in difficult conversations we have an opportunity to build trust and respect which means our relationships with other people and/or organizations improve greatly.Long Term Gain

When we participate in difficult conversations we demonstrate we care enough to bother. Short term pain = long-term gain.

10. Practice And Encourage Time Management

Time management lets us be consciously aware of being proactive – not reactive. Time management and Leadership skills mean leaders help their teams practice good time management skills and focus on their important work / strategic work vs. busy work. Sometimes this means learning how to say ‘No’ or ‘Not Now’ to some requests.

Being a good leader also means learning how to prioritize, delegate tasks, set realistic deadlines and avoid distractions. Time management helps employees effectively manage their workload, thereby spend more time on the projects and tasks that have the greatest contribution to personal and professional success.

11. Embrace and Steward Change Management

Most people are naturally resistant to change even though change management is necessary to stay current and relevant. A successful leadership quality is the ability to have a clear focus AND also be open to change.

Setting change management goals is a first step to motivate employees to embrace change. Then, bring employees into the discussion on how to implement change – letting them add to the discussion and become part of the implementation solution.

When you incorporate change management into your training and development plan, you will experience increased employee retention, productivity, and your employees will get used to staying open to change – not resistant to change.

12. Cross Train Employees As A Motivational Tool

Cross training is a leadership style often overlooked by organizations looking for VERY low-cost ways to improve profitability, team performance, collaboration and employee retention. All leaders should use this as a highly beneficial, non-monetary recognition AND investment in their employees.

Aside from the confidence that there will always be someone available to get a key activity done when (not if), an employee is sick or on vacation, almost all employees see cross training as their employer making an investment in their personal and professional future. In addition, employees see this as a desirable way to expand their personal and professional knowledge/experience (Win/Win).

13. Industry, Competitive And Customer Knowledge

Moving away from supporting their team, one of the best leadership qualities is to fully understand their industry, who are their competitors and to know what their customers need and value.

14. Trust & Be Trustworthy

We all have experienced people who ignore our suggestions or who take credit for others’ ideas. Employees must trust their leaders just like customers must trust your product / service. Employees must trust their leaders to be knowledgeable, fair and to support them when they need to escalate challenges.

In addition, employees must feel their leaders trust their judgement, knowledge and that they are acting in everyone’s best interest.

Trust is a two-way street.

15. Read The Financials

My least favourite leadership skill is spending time reading, interpreting and using financials even thought I know its an important part of improving business strategy.

This is an important part of being a leader… and now I’m moving on.

16. Mindful Listening / Communication

Leaders know productivity and motivation is tied to communication. Effective leaders openly share goals and vision and other relevant information in real-time… keeping the team up-to-date.

One of the most important leadership qualities is how leaders communicate to build a community and an appreciative workspace that also respects work/life balance. Leaders teach their employees to be clear and to get to the point with their verbal and written communication.

When communicating, skillful leaders use mindful leadership and mindful listening techniques like not judging, waiting to respond vs. react during conversations, and asking open-ended questions. Mindful leaders demonstrate patience and caring.

17. Look Around

Leaders also don’t wait for a performance review to tell people how they’re doing. Millennials especially want coaching and feedback on a regular basis – even if all you share is “Thank you – you did a good job on that report”.

Leaders notice employees’ unique, specific contributions and they take the time to acknowledge those contributions. Leadership skills also include having respect for others no matter if they are a Secretary or a CEO.

18. Lead Effective Meetings

Practice and share your meeting skills. Most of us spend too many hours in meetings. Great leaders keep coach their team to use meetings sparingly… and to be efficient when you do have them. The following are a few general points to keep in mind in order to lead effective meetings:

  • Start & finish on time
  • Always share the purpose of the meeting in advance so attendees can prepare
  • Everyone has an equal voice
  • Decisions get made
  • Action items get assigned
  • Document decisions and action items
  • Everyone acts on agreed upon decisions and action items in a timely manner

19. Find The Right Job For The Right People

Great leaders work with their staff to understand their talents, their passions and their aspirations. The better the leader the higher the engagement.

Great leaders put and keep the right people in the right jobs. When people love their jobs they are more productive and creative. If a promotion is the right decision for an existing high achiever, a great leader helps that employee understand any gaps that may exist and help them overcome those gaps (develop a new skill), with coaching and training.

20. Speed and Agility

Nobody likes to work for an organization or leader that can not make a discussion or move forward.

This may also be a leader that gets stuck at 95% on a project and try to hit 100%. While there are places (like space travel), where 100% is important, in many cases the effort to go from 95% to 98% will be similar to the time and cost to get a whole new project up to the 95% level.

Great bosses always understand the vision – and allow that vision to make decisions quickly. This means that employees always know what they have to do next… and are always moving forward… learning, doing, accomplishing greatness.


Leadership is no easy task – it takes lots of work just to lead… which supports the idea that leadership is a full-time commitment to strategy. Quality leaders can’t be knee-deep into doing the ‘doing’.

When you are planning your strategy and managing the other 20 steps, be sure the goals you set are:

  • Realistic – While goals should be challenging, they should also be achievable.
  • Appropriate – for current personal and professional goals.
  • Clear – Managers should easily understand the goals they’re working toward and why those goals are necessary.
  • On A Timeline – When goals have beginning and end points, team members work to reach the finish line.
  • Measurable – The ability to identify progress encourages employees and boosts confidence.
  • Rewarded – If a goal is achieved, it’s essential to give recognition. This heightens employee confidence and encourages further progress.

The biggest challenge leaders face is the desire to forgo long-term strategy for short-term gain. Decades of research on leadership styles and leadership skills demonstrate that emotional intelligence and social skills are critical for long-term leadership and organizational success.

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates training and development courses including Difficult Conversations, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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How To Write Follow-up Email Messages?

It’s Tuesday and you’ve been not-so-patiently waiting since Monday for a response you expected last Friday. What do you do?

Follow-up email messages can stop the best of us in our tracks – and perhaps that’s a good thing. When we write follow-up email we often give careful thought to how we sound and what we say. Translation: most of the time we reread our follow-up email before we send them… something we should do to every email draft before we send.

The careful attention we give our follow-up email is justified. The way our email is interpreted can create retaliatory friction long into our future causing passive aggressive – and not so passive aggressive delays or lack of cooperation for days, weeks or years later. Of course not following up isn’t a good option either.

Fortunately there are other options. Here are two common mistakes when writing follow-up email PLUS options for what you could write. Please note: Standard email etiquette greetings and signature lines should be added to these messages.

Example 1.

Not Great: “Based on our agreement I was expecting your feedback on Friday. It’s now Tuesday; can you confirm I’ll have it by mid-day today?” By the way – you CC’d their boss and your boss.

Much Better: “This is a quick follow-up requesting your feedback regarding XYZ project. I was expecting it last Friday; please let me know if I can get it by mid-day today. I will be submitting my findings tomorrow morning and would enjoy your contribution.” By the way – you didn’t CC anyone.pointed email

Example 2.

Not Great: “I’d really appreciate any response to the 2 questions I asked last Thursday. I need them today – otherwise don’t bother.”

Much Better: “I’m following-up to see if I can get your comments today on the 2 questions I asked last Thursday about new fiberglass molding process? I have to submit my findings tomorrow at noon.”

Whenever you write you want to try to avoid sounding abrupt or accusatory. If the person may feel like you are pointing a finger at them… rewrite. The wise old idiom ‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’ holds true here.


Always try to stay upbeat and positive. Let them know your timelines is a gentle way of framing up your urgency. Also, I recommend never saying ‘I know you are busy but…’ In almost every case (I cannot think of one where it doesn’t), it sounds insincere.

Happy communicating.

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

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

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How To Develop Stories For Corporate Training

What To Include In Business Stories For Corporate Training

How To Develop Stories For Corporate Training by Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’ve written in earlier posts about how business stories are effective when you want to describe behaviors, needs and actions within case studies or sales materials… but how about using stories for corporate training events?

Unfortunately, most business stories follow a traditional story telling structure which might not work in corporate training environments. Why? Because corporate training requires a faster paced approach to keep a participants attention. So… in most of my training workshops I borrow from a relatively new short story framework developed by Dan North called, ‘Behavior-driven development (BDD).

What Is The BDD User Story Framework?

BDD is a communication and collaboration framework initially designed for software development that uses short stories to outline user behavior. (reference Wikipedia)  It’s that short – behavior focused approach that I like of BDD.

The BDD user-story framework works like this: “As a [role] I want [feature] so that [benefit].”

The idea is to share what’s important as well as why it’s important. Stories following this approach help readers/listeners tap into their compassion and empathy, therefore quickly tapping into feelings when exploring solutions.

How Short Stories For Corporate Training Work

Lets assume an employee is requesting Time Management training. The need for training can be described as follows: “As an employee I want Time Management training so that I can meet my goals, reduce my stress level and have greater work/life balance.

A story that would support this training environment would be:

As a business manager I have three days before the weekend and the start of my 2-week vacation. I have three outstanding items that should take a week to complete all three.

I want to finish all my work so that I can help my family prepare for the vacation as well as not have to work during my vacation which would disappoint my family (and myself). I am feeling pressured by work, my family and myself.

One of the best Time Management techniques is to review if 1, 2 or all 3 of the projects are Important Work or Busy Work. Of course, Important Work always takes precedent.

In this corporate training environment, an in-class discussion can quickly take place on how to approach and resolve this situation. Also, because it is a short story there are only a few variables; this helps everyone focus on the training / lesson.


By using BDD to develop business stories for corporate training, any example can quickly become a real, emotionally charged situation that everyone can emphatically relate to or imagine happening. Using this structure also empowers everyone to have robust, on-point conversations. 

Happy communicating and business story writing.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

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Time Management and Healthy Eating: Avoiding The Dreaded Afternoon Slump

The dreaded afternoon slump is not the best way to impress – in fact it falling asleep at your desk can be downright embarrassing.

Even if you don’t fall asleep, for most of us 2PM to 4PM is a period of low energy (depending on many variables like when you eat, what you eat and how many young children you have), and this translates to low productivity, creativity and strategic thinking.

Coffee and sweets are at the top of the popularity scale to avoid afternoon slumps; perhaps you can remember a long running TV commercial that promoted eating a chocolate bar mid-afternoon? I personally find a chocolate bar is the perfect recipe for my eyes to begin closing and head to start nodding. But I’m not going to get into food, I’ll let my collaborator James R. Elliot of Complete Health and Fitness (our nutrition expert in this blog series), discusses the things we should and should not eat at lunch / afternoon to maintain our energy and productivity.

How To Plan Your Day And Avoid An Afternoon Slump

My contribution to this last post in this 3-part blog series comes from the Time Management training I offer. Specifically, how you and your team can plan your day to help avoid an afternoon slump and to be productive.

In part 1 of this series I talked about doing your Important Work in the morning. To improve your afternoon energy levels and avoid the dreaded afternoon slump I’ll encourage you to follow 3 other time management and productivity tips I advise my clients to use… which are:

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of pakorn at

  • Book Afternoon Meetings – especially good are brainstorming meetings
  • Read/Write Routine Email (you answered your important email in the morning).
  • Help a Co-worker

1. Book Afternoon Meetings

Meetings are great at keeping you engaged – especially brainstorming meetings. Meetings allow you to stay active by doing things like discussing ideas with others, taking notes, getting a glass of water, perhaps even walking about. As long as you’re not in a stuffy, warm room with the lights down, afternoon meetings are a great way to keep you (and your team), productive and awake.

2. Answer Routine Email

Unless your job requires you to be on email all the time, answer only important email / urgent email in the morning. Allocate specific time in the afternoon for routine, non-urgent email. If you have lots of email, break up your time into smaller (perhaps 30-minute), intervals. Do some email, help a coworker, then do more email.

Bonus Tip. The incoming email notice has become a huge productivity thief and concentration robber. So… turn your email notification off (except for your boss and most important client).

3. Help a Co-worker

Every afternoon set aside 30 minutes to help a co-worker. This way, if someone asks you for a favour in the morning you can say, “I’m happy to help Rob. I have to finish what I’m working on first though. I have 30 minutes this afternoon at 3PM so let’s connect then; I’ll be able to give you 100% of my attention because I won’t be distracted.” If nobody asks you for a favour or help, you now have 30 unscheduled minutes to work on something important… or to get ahead on something else.

James’s Nutrition Tips

The most common reason you might experience an afternoon slump is because of what you have eaten (or not eaten) for lunch. There is another cause, adrenal gland fatigue, but that is a longer topic for another post.

Either starving yourself at lunch, or having a large, carbohydrate/starch-laden meal will make you fatigued 1.5-2 hours later due to the blood sugar spike and subsequent crash that happens. Your body sees the blood sugar spike as danger, and over-corrects. Unfortunately, this correction sends your blood sugar, mood, energy level, ability to think, reason and complete work effectively crashing down.

James’s Tips For Avoiding Afternoon Slump After Lunch:

  • Eat at your desk if you have to, but at least have something to eat! (Something healthy)
  • Bring a lunch bag with lunch and healthy snacks like fruit, veggies, hummus, nuts – it doesn’t take THAT much time – plan ahead the night before for success
  • Try to avoid or minimize starchy/sugary foods like pasta, bread, noodles, pastries or junk which will just make you tired and crave more sweets later on – perpetuating the crash cycle all over again
  • Eat a complete meal (that has a protein, carbohydrate and a fat) with proper portion sizes at every main meal, including lunch, as follows:
    • A portion of protein is the size of your palm, not including fingers (fish, meat, eggs, protein shakes)
    • A portion of healthy fat is about the size of your thumb – give or take (nuts/seeds, avocado, coconut/oil, olives/oil)
    • A portion of vegetables is the size of a closed fist
  • The occasional fruit or starchy carbohydrates like grains, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc., are what you can fit in a cupped hand – to keep your energy levels consistent try to avoid starchy carbs
  • Men can multiply these by 50%, or even double them if you find yourself really hungry or you exercise regularly

Minimizing starchy carbohydrates, as well as sweets or junk food, properly proportioning your complete meals and eating frequently, will help keep your blood sugar consistent. This will help you maintain your mood, energy levels, have less fatigue, less brain fog, will not crash during the day, and will feel better overall with more energy! It will also help you get work done faster!!!


Falling asleep at work is never a good thing; it might result in:

  • A bad reputation with your co-workers / boss
  • The loss of an important client

Good time management habits and eating well are easy, low-cost and very efficient ways to be a productive, helpful and healthy team player.

Happy Time Management and Healthy Eating. 

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Mindfulness At Work. How Productivity Will Be Improved!

Can Mindfulness at work help us get our work done?

Do you ever feel you’ve been busy all day and didn’t get much done? You may not have realized it at the time but you were likely multitasking all day; helping co-workers and clients, switching from task to task, responding to email, phone calls, knocks on your office door, being pulled into meetings… Oh, and then there’s your job writing proposals, strategic plans and managing your team.

The challenge is that every time we switch away from what we’re doing we lose focus – we lose concentration… we may even lose the fantastic creative idea we were thinking. Has that ever happened to you? Poof! Your creative idea is gone.Mindful Creative Ideas

Seriously, Mindfulness at work will improve your productivity.

People who have even entry-level mindfulness training begin to experience many benefits – including:

  • Getting more done in less time
  • Improved memory
  • Less stress / frustration
  • Greater employee satisfaction
  • Greater work / life balance

How / Why Does Mindfulness At Work… Work?

In its simplest form, my definition of Mindfulness is about being aware and taking time to respond with thoughtful intention. You do not react… you respond. To respond with thoughtful intention means you:

  • Know and consider your objective
  • Make thoughtful choices
  • Are present – even if you may choose to not participate
  • Listen when being spoken to
  • Practice empathy
  • Don’t assume / Do ask questions

Why Is ‘Knowing And Considering Your Objective’ Important?

Knowing and considering your objective is critical to being mindful and making thoughtful choices. Without this focus, it’s easy to lose sight of your objective as you are bombarded with… email, phone calls, knocks on door etc.

Knowing and considering your objective allows you to notice when distractions are coming along. Being Mindful at work lets you choose whether you will shift your attention away from… or to stay focused on your Important Work.

Bruce Speaking On Global TV about Millennials

Bruce Speaking On Global TV about Millennials

Example of Mindfulness At Work:

An example of a distraction and then applying Mindfulness at work is as follows. Note, all responses are thoughtful and respectful, but only some are mindful of your objective.

Your Objective: You have a training proposal to write.

Time Management Plan: You allocate the next 30 minutes to concentrate on developing your first draft.

What Happens: 10 minutes into mind-mapping the solution someone asks if you want to go for a coffee.

You can:

  1. Go
  2. Get into a conversation with them about what’s on your plate and why you can’t go
  3. Say, “I appreciate the invitation – perhaps next time.”
  4. Ask them to get you one.

The best solution may have been to go to a conference room for those 30 minutes so you would not be bothered, but that didn’t happen. So, if your Objective is to focus on the proposal, what is the best response?

I like ‘C’. Why? While ‘D’ is a close runner-up, ‘D’ may result in further delays searching for money… and then being interrupted again when they return with your coffee, your change… and a story about how cute the barista was.

The added benefit of’ ’C’ is that when you’re done, you can reward yourself with a 5 minute walk to clear your mind – reset your energy and pick up a decaf green tea.


All too often we make unconscious choices to multitask – or at least to try to multitask. The result is we feel rushed and overloaded. Mindfulness helps us choose when we will be distracted by deciding if it is Important Work or Busy Work.

I’m not saying that we can’t work on two or more projects or cases at a time. We can! What we can’t do is work on two or more important things at exactly the same time. You can listen to an old TV comedy rerun and edit a proposal perhaps – but there is no way to do two important things at the same time.

Try It #I: Find two people who will give you some flexibility for an experiment and will participate in a conversation. Stand them beside each other. For 1 minute… at exactly the same time:

  • Have one talk to you about the plans for the upcoming weekend to their cottage including who is coming, who is coming with them, what they are bringing and when they are arriving.
  • Have your other friend talk about an important project they are working on including details about timing, budget, key initiatives / milestones and key players and their responsibilities.

What can you remember about each conversation?

Try It #2: Listen to a favourite radio talk show.  If you are like me, they will say something that engages you – makes you think.  That’s great!

Perhaps you will remember a situation – perhaps you will have a thought about the possible answer.  In short, your mind will wander.  When you realize you’ve been lost in thought, ask yourself… can I recount the details of what they said while I was lost in thought? I’m betting lots that you can not.  Proof we can not do two important things at the same time.

Happy communication and mindfulness at work. 

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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