Is your employee insubordinate or, do they just not know better?

It’s a busy time of year.

Yesterday you had an employee unexpectedly take a sick day because their child was ill. This situation is inconvenient, but managing situations like this is part of what being a leader is about. Shake it off.

Today this employee comes in at 9:30AM, about 1-hour later than their usual start time. Argh… frustrating. And now, as it pushes 10AM they still have not settled down – meanwhile you and other members of your team are running around trying to meet a few important deadlines. Not only is this even more frustrating, you are also feeling more and more angry which is slowly moving into resentment and disappointed targeted squarely at this employee – and echoed by many of their coworkers. Yikes! Time to catch yourself and be careful.

Is your employee Insubordinate?

I’m sorry to say but instances like this is where it will show off your leadership skills.

What you can do?

As a leader I believe you have to hold this employee accountable. This means you will not hesitate (for long), before you have a difficult conversation with her about her actions (or lack of), this morning.

Now, let me be clear. Having a ‘difficult conversation’ isn’t about pinning blame or doing your best to make someone feel inferior or bad. This is about managing each others expectations. Also, difficult conversations are not yelling matches. If you holler and scream you are just doing damage to your personal and professional reputation.

Difficult conversations are ‘difficult’ because they are usually uncomfortable. But what they do accomplish is clearing the air. These conversations give you an opportunity to discuss what is important… to each of you… in a respectful, honest way.  In the example above, what is important is to let the employee know her actions today (not yesterday), are letting you and the rest of the team down; no blame – just reality. On a side note, I’d suggest it would be very cool and respectful of you to not mention her 9:30AM start because her morning might have had some lingering challenges from her child being ill.

This is about managing expectations.

The reality is that if you don’t have have that difficult, uncomfortable conversation – if you do nothing about her behaviour today you should not expect anything to change – and you are setting an example for the rest of the team; and you don’t want that. At the same time, if you don’t invest in that difficult conversation you will be losing the opportunity to learn more about what may be bothering this employee and how you might be able to help her today and in the future.

Step 1 of being a great Leader

You have to talk about what is going on. As a leader you have to manage her expectations and tell her what you need… even if she really should know what those expectations are.  To make this work better in the future you may want set up a new best-practice that whenever someone is out due to illness that first thing they have a 10-minute meeting with you to check-in and to re-set their schedule.

Step 2 of being a leader

You still have to inspire and motivate her, even if she is disappointing you. So, try to have everything you do and say to have a positive twist. You will see this explained further in the examples below.

Your mindset should lean to letting her know that her contribution is important!

Step 3a of being a leader

Prepare a great first sentence. This is important. Seriously, it’s really important.

What you SHOULD NOT say. “You are disappointing me – after taking a questionable day off you are now wandering around here disturbing others and being a nuisance – perhaps it would have been better you take another day off and call it a vacation day.”

What you COULD say. “Bonnie, I’m glad you are back and I hope your child is feeling better. I really need you to get onto PROJECT A and have it done by 11:30 this morning. Can you do that? The team worked on XYZ yesterday but your experience and expertise will help us finish it. After that, let’s talk about two other priorities we need you to be part of. Please come see me at 11:30AM for a recap and status of PROJECT A.”

Sure the second approach is a bit more hand-holding and perhaps you don’t think you should have to… if only they were more like you. But as a leader it’s your responsibility to get the best out of the people you have and for now it seems clear you have to do a bit of hand-holding. Perhaps with this hand-holding they will begin to learn. I’ll assure you – some will, and some will not.

As a leader soft skills can be as much as 80% of your responsibilities. It is not your job to work work work… it’s your job to inspire, motivate, empower and to build a trusting culture within a strategic vision… all while living the company values and producing quality, competitive results.

Step 3b of being a leader

Bonnie is not settling down.

If she continues to not settle down, keep sharing how you are feeling, but be careful to still not be emotional. Keep your empathy turned on – but stay firm with your work responsibilities and dedication to supporting your ream when they need your support.

For example you might want to say something like, “Bonnie, I’m getting a bit frustrated that we have all the work I shared with you this morning that needs to get done and you are not settling down to help the team. Is there something you need or is there something going on that I need to know about?”

Talking about how you are feeling is part of being truthful. You are not pushing blame and it certainly doesn’t make you look weak. Again, it’s about managing expectations and trying not to assume why someone is… or is not doing something. Discussing feelings helps give everyone a clear picture of the impact of our actions – or inactions.


There is never any one perfect solution I can give you, but what I’ve shared above does work – I promise. Stay focused on your needs and your personal and professional values. They will help keep you grounded.

Great leaders have to keep adapting to new environments and more complicated situations faster than ever before. Among everything else, even employee needs are becoming more challenging and often more personal. 

This is where being more connected to our feelings and tapping into our empathy and compassion is the right solution. Learn how to work with your soft skills. Even in difficult times, great leaders still try to instil trust, compassion, support, teamwork and hope.

You may have to get outside your comfort zone… but you can do it.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, 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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Time Management – get more done.

Everyone says get to bed early and wake up early. And for about 90% of us that is the right recommendation. And if you are part of the 10%-night owls I’m not going to try to get you to change. And frankly, as work requirements are more flexible, adaptable and virtual of late, there are fewer challenges for night owls to get into work by 8AM… for many professions.

But, here is one truth that is important for all of us to know – no matter when you like to get up.

We are all strategically at our best from about 1 hour after to about 5 or 6 hours after we wake up. Even if we feel tired because we cared for a newborn or an aging parent, you can’t argue that we are still most rested after we wake up.

Three other amazing best practices that help early birds and moderates get more done:

1. Get to work early.

When we get to work early, it is usually the quietest part of our day. Before other coworkers, customers or suppliers get organized and begin bugging us we can get lots done.

2. Don’t plan meetings until at least 10AM or 11AM.

Meetings are often some of our most unproductive time. So, try to get as much strategic time in as possible. Remember, you are at your best up to 5 or 6 hours after you wake up so use that as your guide. Create a policy that restricts early morning meetings for your team. Try not to let meetings happen before 10 or 11AM.

If you lead a team or department and can’t get the meeting moved, check to see how critical it is that you attend. Perhaps you can send someone else from your team and then have them give you a quick update early in the afternoon. This time management best practice has two additional benefits including:

  • It’s likely a career development opportunity for a junior team member
  • A quick update will take less time than sitting through a whole meeting.

3. Use your travel time strategically.

I don’t necessarily mean work work work. Sure, getting a bit more work done may be your decision for today, but good time management also could mean giving yourself time to do some inspirational reading, or to hand-write a note to a friend, family member or an employee who has done a great job living up to the corporate values.

What I mean by use your travel time strategically is do something that is planned – even if your plan is to rest or daydream. Mixing up your routine and turning off the radio, or turning on a podcast is often one of the healthiest things we can do and is often one of the things we don’t often allow ourselves to do.

Little things matter.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and getting more done.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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The Ideal Leader

If I could be the ideal leader, I would:

  1. Have a strategic, virtuous goal that does not diminish the value of someone else’s strategic, virtuous goal.
  2. See that my goal may be part of someone else’s (or societies), even bigger goal.
  3. Be able to see reality through the eyes of many different people who would have very different perspectives than myself.
  4. Create a compassionate space where other people would be encouraged to also see reality through other people’s eyes.
  5. Build relationships based on respect and listening, and these relationships would build a foundation of trust and a willingness to collaborate.
  6. Want to have developed a reputation as being trustworthy and fair.
  7. Always keep in mind the importance of managing expectations – both mine and other peoples.
  8. Embrace creativity and spontaneity.
  9. Know that I don’t know everything and through shared trust with my collaborators, I would feel comfortable to ask questions… and my fellow collaborators would be patient with me as I would be with them. And we would all see our question and answer periods as opportunities for us all to explore the project in a new way as well as learn about each other.
  10. Remember that profits and sustainability are important, but the sustained health of people, communities and our planet are more important.
  11. Have time to reflect… and I would also know that sometimes I am confident in my goal, myself and/or my team that I do not wait for a fully developed plan.
  12. Always try to develop my team so they continue to grow and reach their personal and professional goals within our organization for as long as possible.
  13. Realize that peoples career choices and behaviours are theirs and theirs alone.
  14. See change is healthy and necessary… and inevitable.
  15. Remind myself that everyone learns and works in a way that is unique to them. Different people may need more (or less) investment… and that is OK.
  16. Remember that intrinsic motivation is almost always more effective than extrinsic motivation.
  17. Remember that if I am not learning then I am falling behind.
  18. Always be looking for an opportunity to work with and learn from other leaders.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including Email Etiquette, Time Management training, How To Run Effective MeetingsLeadership Skills, Generational Differences, Difficult Conversations training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

15 Ways To Be Sure Your Business Meeting Isn’t A Waste Of Time

How you manage a business meeting with colleagues, clients or a combination of both can be a good indication of your leadership abilities. And while I’ve outlined 15 ways to be sure your business meeting isn’t a waste of time, I’m sure you’re already doing some. So perhaps, add them up your ‘Do’ column and ‘Need To Do’ column and see which list is longer.

Why is it important to review your business meeting management best practices?

It takes far less time to organize a great meeting (and reinforce a great personal reputation), than it takes to sit through a poorly organized meeting that is a waste of time… for everyone.

Great business meetings are about choice. Do you choose to:

  1. Plan the meeting with no more than 3 key objectives to discuss or 3 key decisions to make?
  2. Invite only the people who need to be there?
  3. Build a reputation that your meetings start on time in order to respect everyone’s time?
  4. Build a reputation that your meetings finish on time in order to respect everyone’s time?
  5. Send your agenda out days in advance?
  6. Stay on topic, on agenda?
  7. As a participant, do you read the agenda in advance?
  8. As meeting organizer or participant, do you arrive prepared with the background and / or support documents you need to participate?
  9. Listen with purpose to learn? During the meeting, are you trying to understand (not necessarily agree with), other points of view? Please say yes.
  10. Participate? Stay relevant? Ask questions / provide your opinion only when you have meaningful contribution? Do you create value? If people have questions they will / should feel free to ask.
  11. Use a ‘Parking Lot’ for new topics… and new business meetings?
  12. Be respectful when you agree and when you disagree?
  13. Get to the point, not waste time, don’t ramble. Do you choose to be efficient and effective… especially if you have executives in the meeting.
  14. Review decisions and action items before you close to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  15. Document and distribute agreed-upon decisions and action items?

Far too many meetings leave us with the feeling our time and/or our opinion aren’t appreciated. And while much responsibility sits with the organizer, I believe it’s each of our responsibility to know what we can do to make sure business meetings are not a waste of time.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring, learning and hosting great meetings.

We facilitate courses including Email Etiquette, Time Management training, How To Run Effective MeetingsLeadership Skills, Generational Differences, Difficult Conversations training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Examples of Noticing and Reinforcing Each Others Work, at Work.

One of the most effective ways to get the behaviour we want is to see in others is to sincerely reinforce that behaviour when it happens. In many ways this falls into the space of intrinsic motivation.

That said, providing feedback can sometimes feel like we are babying your co-workers. Get over it. We are not babying them or hand-holding. What we are doing is letting them know their efforts matter; that they are important and are making a difference.

One easy approach I would recommend is to focus on their effort and/or outcome and not make it too personal.

Here are some examples.

Awareness / Caring I

  • “Bob, you came in later today than usual. That’s very different for you so I just wanted to make sure everything is OK and ask if there is anything you might need?” Or
  • “Is that a new jacket? It is a great looking jacket.” Or
  • “How did your team enjoy the conference yesterday? They seemed really excited to attend.”

Awareness / Caring II

“I noticed you started the training meeting by reviewing the departments vision, values and how the training fits into us all achiving our goals. That really helped me focus my attention on how to use the training and where I needed to change.”

Appreciation I

“Thank you for your hard work. Your attention to detail made a difference.” (a focus on their effort)

Appreciation & Collaboration I

“You both found an interesting way to solve the problem and work together to complete the project even though you are in different time zones. Well done.”

Appreciation & Collaboration II

“Thanks for helping the marketing team get those financial numbers together. Having the finance departments input and suggestions helped clarify the expenses and potential ROI.” 

Being Clear – Getting To The Point

“You shared the objective and desired action item in the first sentence of your email. I want you to know this really helped us understand the reason for the detailed background you then provided.” (a focus on email etiquette / email writing technique)

Reinforce Desired Behaviour I

“Everyone is here on time and ready to start meeting. My thanks to each of you. This should help us get out on time as well.” (a focus on time management)

Reinforce Desired Behaviour II

“Before we close off today’s update meeting, I want to point out I noticed everyone gave each other the opportunity to speak without interruption and with an open, inquiring mind. Thank you – I think it is great how our team is really coming together.”

Reinforce Desired Behaviour III

“Bob, you worked really hard on this proposal outline and submitted it on time. It looks really good and gives each of the other managers a great foundation to all add their content while keeping a consistent objective and a consistent look for the company. Well done.”

It’s important to sincerely reinforce behaviour. If we are not sincere – it will show. It’s also important to say something as close to the behaviour as possible; don’t wait for their next performance review.

As with all things, practice makes perfect. When you see behaviour you want, especially if it’s behaviour that’s in the process of changing, try letting that person or people realize you see their effort and the positive impact they are having.

Reminders and positive feedback help others (and ourselves) visualize and recall expectations and the skills / actions associated with the behaviours we want to see / experience. The characteristics of good reminders and positive feedback include being:

  • Simple and brief (not a lecture)
  • Focused on the positive (what is), not the negative (what is not)

Little things matter.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Employee Burnout May Point To Time Management Challenges.

Are your employees burning-out doing the same thing over and over for 10 or more hours a day? There are five main challenges with that:

  1. There are now more Millennials in the job market than Boomers.
  2. Millennials want work-life balance / work-life integration as well as autonomy and opportunities.
  3. Millennials want to keep growing – they don’t like the same thing over and over.
  4. Gen Z employees are beginning to enter the job market (and they also like balance, autonomy and opportunities).
  5. Most Boomers and Gen Xers want the same thing Millennials and Gen Zers want.

Most people don’t want to leave the company they have chosen to work for. People quit because they don’t feel:

  • They are respected as individuals
  • Their work and efforts are respected
  • They are given opportunities (and challenges) to grow
  • They have the flexibility / autonomy most workers want

Unfortunately for both individuals (and the companies they work for), sooner or later if leaders don’t take care of high-potential employees… their most dedicated employees, they usually quit. You know the saying, “People don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses.”

While most employees don’t want to quit their work or the company they work for, they do quit to survive. They quit because they know they can do better elsewhere – either working for someone else or starting their own business.

Is this a time management challenge?
At first glance no… but on a bigger scale, absolutely.

Studies show Millennial job loyalty / job retention increases when their responsibilities change… when their new responsibilities give them new opportunities to grow.

To keep your best people it’s important to pay attention to both the work that needs to get done and the needs of the people doing that work. Some of the best companies don’t keep the best people by slotting them into pre-existing jobs; they find (and keep) the best people by designing flexible work and workspaces that meet their employee and company needs… and therefore their customer needs. When employees see the companies they work for trying hard to create balanced, flexible workspaces, many of those same employees become even more loyal.

A great leader takes the time to learn about their employees. Great leaders also take the time to recognize the potential (and dreams), within those employees and then develop that potential and helps support those dreams.

Is employee burnout a time management challenge? At first glance no… but on a bigger scale, absolutely. If you are overworking your employees, not helping them grow and be proud of their work, be ready for high turnover and high recruitment and on-boarding costs that are unavoidable when you have an never-ending stream of new employees.

Little things matter.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.


Random Acts of Kindness for Leaders

Random acts of kindness are powerful ways to brighten someone’s day… help them feel visible… help them feel they matter… and are often completely free.Ramdom Acts of Kindness for Leaders

Random acts of kindness are also powerful opportunities for leaders.

We know the top few criteria that improve job / company loyalty are most often not salary… but instead aspects like feeling valued, feeling appreciated and making a difference. Translation… your random act of kindness may do far more than make someone’s day… you may also be improving loyalty, productivity and team spirit.

Improve the morale of the people at
your company even if they don’t report into you!

No matter how high or low in the company you are, I always recommend thinking about how you can be aware of the world around you and take ½ a second to see if you can improve someone else’s day while also improving the morale of the people who work at your company even if they don’t directly report into you!

Here are a few easy (mostly free), random acts of kindness at work suggestions that will have great impact:

  1. Surprise a teammate with a treat on their birthday. $ will cost a little
  2. Watch what your secretary or other administration staff drink or snack on. Bring them one – randomly. I’m sure they’ve saved you more than once and you may not even known it, so yes… they do deserve it. will cost a little
  3. Hold the elevator for someone – especially if their hands are full or if they seem in a rush. This also means you have to choose to be aware of your surroundings.
  4. Bring a coffee or lunch to a co-worker who is working hard on a deadline. will cost a little
  5. Give people positive feedback. Tell them you really appreciate what they did if they helped you and/or when you see they’ve done something great for someone else. Even consider a hand-written note!
  6. Share positive feedback you heard about someone’s work or attitude.
  7. If someone is at home sick, write a quick message hoping they feel better. Do this even if they are staying connected and are working remotely from home.
  8. Ask a team member to go for a walk for no other reason than to get out of the office and clear their (and your) head. You don’t have to talk about work.
  9. When you see a meeting that lines up with those future goals but not their current job responsibilities, ask them to come along with you as an observer. You will blow their minds and increase their loyalty and respect for you and the company 100%.
  10. Similar to #9, when you see a training opportunity or a conference internally or externally, that lines up with their future goals suggest they attend. Again, you will blow their minds and increase their loyalty and respect for you and the company 100%.
  11. If you can give them a junior role on a project team that lines up with their future goals even if it is outside their current responsibilities, again… you will blow their minds.

You can see here that of the 11 examples I have shared above, most of them are intrinsic motivators and only three might have a cost associated.

As a leader, one moment of your time can have great long-term impact.



Almost nothing annoys me more or makes me feel more invisible than when someone enters through swinging doors in front of me and lets them swing shut… on me… especially if my hands are full. This happens all the time walking through Toronto’s business underground. Alternatively, nothing is quite like the feeling when someone sees me approaching and waits ½ a second to hold the door open as they go through so that the door doesn’t swing shut on me.

Little things like random acts of kindness do matter.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.


How to be productive in a toxic work environment

Does work feel like torture? Do you feel you are being consumed in a toxic work environment or by a toxic boss?

You give. And, as your boss takes they make you feel like you’ve missed something important that would have been clear to a five-year old… except you didn’t miss anything. What did happen is somewhere between 8PM last night and 7AM this morning they changed their mind about project deliverables or one of a thousand other project changes they could have dreamt up. Either way they blame you and everyone on the team for not anticipating their abrupt change of plans.Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 5.30.20 PM

Certain toxic personalities make work very unpleasant.

So, you work harder, stay longer, triple check your work and you try to be a buffer for your team. But still, the more you give the more they push and the more they micromanage or become passive aggressive.

Toxic work environments aren’t fair to you and the people who report into you and who are trying to jump through imaginary hoops to satisfy the ever evolving demands of a passive aggressive boss (I won’t call them leader). This situation is also not fair to your friends and family.

Eventually, one of you will have to go. And for the sake of your health, don’t let it go on too long since stress like this can have quick negative impact on your health as well as your personal and professional relationships (and professional reputation).

If you do have to be the one to leave, don’t think of it as you giving up or a personal defeat. I’d actually suggest leaving a toxic work environment shows tremendous courage and may be one of the most difficult decisions you will make.

But for now, you are both still there, and for now you want to do the best work you can. So, how can you stay calm and feel proud of your work and hope your toxic boss is the one to go? I have some suggestions, and while I’m afraid they won’t put a full stop to the frustrating storm you are experiencing, they will help you experience less turbulence and greater pride in your work. Here are my 12 suggestions

  1. Get agreement on the company and your departments short-term Goals.
  2. Be clear of the company and your departments longer term Vision (future goals).
  3. Be clear of the company Mission.
  4. Be clear of the company Values AND what “living” those values should look like.
  5. Understand what YOUR goals are and measurements of success.
  6. Realize there is more out there than your current project or job. That when your boss creates a toxic environment it’s more of a reflection on them… not you. Your work is still something to be proud of, especially if you are focused on the first 4 points mentioned above.
  7. Document as much as possible. Try to get them to give you goals and instructions in an email – or write them an email confirming ‘your understanding’ of key goals, outcomes and timelines.
  8. Don’t become paranoid or paralyzed at work. Keep making decisions and keep projects moving forward. Be cautious – sure. But keep your eye focused on the project goal, vision, values and company / marketing language to keep you safe.
  9. Be careful not to slander anyone. Don’t get a reputation as a complainer. Either manage the challenge or get out.
  10. Now more than ever its important you have other work / a hobbies you can be proud of:
    • Volunteering
    • Creative outlets like painting, cooking or exercise (exercise helps decrease stress)
  11. Eat healthy and get as close to 7.5-9.5 hours of sleep as you can.
  12. Never lose focus on what is really most important:
    • Family / children / parents
    • Friends
    • Health

Good luck. Stay positive. Remember it’s not you.

I do hope these twelve strategies help you manage your toxic environment with a little more calm, sensitivity and ability to buffer your team as much as possible from the storm raging above you.


Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.


Are you bored at work… or are you still building your career?

Remember your first week at your job? How exciting it was to learn about the new projects you’d be working on, the influence you’d have and the new people you would meet. And now you find your work boring. On Sunday evenings, instead of looking forward to Monday morning you now routinely say (or think), “Ugh, I have to go to work tomorrow.” If someone was to ask you, “Are you satisfied with your current job?” you’d almost certainly say, “No”.Are You Bored At Work?

It’s not just Millennials and GenXers who crave satisfaction, meaning and a healthy work-life balance. And yet, I believe far too many people stop paying attention to the importance and excitement of their career and get far too lost in the day-to-day tasks of their job. And when this happens they become bored. But what if:

  • You choose to approach every day as an opportunity to learn something new… to make a difference and an opportunity to meet someone who might be a mentor?
  • Instead of dreading having to update the Monthly Sales Spreadsheet yet again, you noticed an unexpected pattern emerging from one of the sectors and shared that opportunity with your boss?
  • You choose to see every meeting was an opportunity to think strategically, to consider the corporate values and to think outside the box?
  • When faced with a crisis you choose to keep your cool and stay professional and thereby come out the other side with grace and a reputation for a cool-head?

If you are feeling bored at work it’s important for your career that you take this seriously. Whether you realize it or not, bored people often drag down the mood and the productivity of the team and few companies can let that go on too long.

So, let’s look at how can you reset.

Be Curious / Say ‘Yes’ More Often

Feeling bored at work is often a natural emotional response to insufficient stimulation. Reignite the days when you were new in your job and didn’t know all the answers by looking for opportunities to take on more responsibility and to stay relevant.

Whatever you focus on you will feel. If you focus on being bored, you will be bored. If you focus on being engaged and what you can learn, that is what you will feel and that is what people will see. Your work is an opportunity to build your career, to prove yourself and to get ready for the job you might not doing yet but is part of the career you are planning.

Feeling bored may even be a sign it’s time for you to make the transition into leadership – or if you are already in a leader position to increase your responsibilities. How about taking on a special project?

Experts agree one of the best ways to prepare for your next job is to demonstrate you have the passion and the ambition to grow into that position. When you take on more responsibility your dedication and enthusiasm will also open a lifetime of opportunities as the economy and workforce changes around you.

Get Clear On Your What You Want To Feel When You Are At Work

If you are dealing with meaningless assignments, unreasonable bosses who don’t care or never-ending politics, then maybe it is time for a new job. But, jumping from one job to another is never a good solution to boredom. If you don’t have a clear idea of why you are leaving and most importantly what you want for your future, you will find yourself bored again soon enough. 

Get clear on what you want. Purpose isn’t found in a job description, it’s found in how you approach the work you do and what value you feel from your contribution. Aside from money (which is an extrinsic motivator), everyone strives for their own personal balance between four (4) intrinsic motivators no matter what type of work they do. From doctor to plumber, you will be motivated by some combination of:

  1. Learning new things
  2. Being seen as an expert
  3. Making a difference
  4. Having flexibility / control of what you do and when you do it

These four intrinsic motivators may seem high-level, but I assure you exploring your motivators is important to understand what matters to you and your career.

Take Pride In Your Work

If you are like most people, when you are bored at work you get careless and start making mistakes. If you think this is you, be careful, your reputation is on the line. One quick hack is to start exploring how can have greater impact? For example, can you use your vast experience to re-write all of the current templates your department uses or begin training / orienting new employees? The trick is to turn up the challenge on your day.

I am channeling my mother as I write this tip (she will be so proud when I tell her). Don’t appear to be lazy or negative. If you start coming in late and leaving early your coworkers will notice and it might sour the mood of your team and begin to isolate you. If this happens it will only amplify the unpleasant feelings you have.

Sometimes, getting motivated is as easy as remembering the people whose lives you change – whose lives you influence every day. Your smile, your compassion and your expertise give you great power – power you should be proud of.

I have one more suggestion for you to bring life back into your work and your career. If you know me you will not be surprised when I ask you to take care of yourself and your energy. Get plenty of exercise, sleep and eat well. Also, consider speaking with a career or leadership coach or mentor. When we are bored at work we can sometimes let important parts of our lives slip. This will only push us further into the hole. Live your life in a healthy and sustainable way.


Be curious. Believe in your future. As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

We live in a world of quick fixes but it’s important to remember that many of the things that matter most and will have the greatest impact need time and require our commitment. Show that you value your work and the people around you.

You are the one who has to create the life you want. Work is not a place or a job unless you choose it to make it onlya place or a job. Take pride in your work and your career. Your reputation matters. Show everyone you have both talent and passion.

I hope these tips help you find work-life balance if you are feeling bored at work.


Happy communicating, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

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Work-life balance: How not to be buried in email when you return from vacation.

One of the challenges of work-life balance is getting ready to go on vacation… and coming back from vacation.

First, lets look at how you can prepare to be away. Then, we will look at what you can do while you are away (and not checking your email), so that you are not buried in email when you return from vacation.Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 5.48.04 PM

Before You Are Away

Two best practices that I like to use to prepare to be away are to:

  1. Notify all of your important contacts a few weeks before you go.
  2. Use an Out-of-Office email notice while you are gone.

Notifying your important contacts is a great best-practice. This lets you and your network either take care of important tasks before you leave – or plan to take care of these tasks when you are back. In short, you are managing their and your expectations – and I don’t think there is a better way to show respect to your network than managing their expectations.

There are two relatively easy ways that I like to notify your important contacts before you go on vacation:

  • One of the easiest is to remind people when you are speaking with them. I like to create a list of important people to tell and then check their name off as I go. This way I am not telling the same people over and over again – which can sound like I’m bragging about being away.
  • Another is to add a short message to every email you send – just before your salutation. Again – this is a note you add to the email you write for the week or two before you go. This message can be as simple as, “Please note, I will be on vacation from X to Y and will not be accessing email or voicemail during this time. Please contact Amy or Bob while I am away. Thank you.”

While You Are Away

Use an Out-of-Office email notice is pretty easy as well… but this is one place where you can make your work-life balance so much better upon your return. Here is a trick of the message you might like to write,

“Please note, I will be on vacation from X to Y and will not be accessing email or voicemail during this time. Experience tells me most issues will be addressed / taken care of by the time I return, therefore I will be archiving and not reading any of the many email I expect will come into my mailbox while I’m gone.

If you do need me to act on something when I return on Y, please send me a new email on Y. This will help me address your email as quickly as possible because it will not be buried in a very full in-box. 

If you need immediate information / help, while I am away Amy or Bob will be covering my main files. Thank you.”

This last approach seems a bit extreme. The beauty is that this approach stops you from reading weeks worth of email and an endless number of long email strings only to discover the issue has been resolved and/or is no longer important. In short – archiving and not reading any of the email really that come in while you are away will help you manage people’s expectations and help you be productive quickly and efficiently. The one thing I want to clearly point out is that you make sure you archive the email / not delete them. For some situations going back and reading the email string will be important.

I hope these tips on how to keep a sense of work-life balance both before you go and after you return from vacation.


Happy communicating, mentoring, learning and vacationing.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management, leadership, generational differences training… and more.

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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