What Is A Real Leader?

Real Leaders recognize leadership is a relationship between you and your employees. You have to value their well being, their effort, their successes like you would your family.
Leadership is being a coach and mentor just like you would coach your grandchildren – sharing respect and security; feeding their desire to grow… knowing there is always a learning curve.
Leadership is knowing that even though you may be an expert, we live in a culture of change and there is always something new to learn…. or you risk falling behind.
Real leadership is communicating with people as they are… not as if they were you – with your goals, your knowledge, your stresses. Leaders recognize people are individuals and do not wish to be mini-clones of you.
Leadership recognizes everyone has emotions – they do not freeze when they (or you) walk through the door. Leaders also recognizes the relationships you need to nourish and respect are based on emotions. Trust is an emotion; so is Motivation and so is Respect… and the list continues.
Leaders build relationships that last… and the foundation of a leaders legacy… the foundation of a leaders personal and professional brand is their ability to build trusting, respectful relationships while motivating the people around them to achieve their greatest potential.
Real leaders are not perfect… but they try and are transparent of their shortfalls as well as their efforts and their successes. Leaders know their vulnerability only builds greater loyalty from others.
Real leaders want to make a positive lasting impact in the lives of their employees as well as their suppliers, customers and shareholders.
Real leaders never want to make a positive lasting impact at the expense of their employees, suppliers, customers and shareholders.

What we do every day of our lives is what matters.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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.



How Gen X can prepare to be tomorrow’s leaders

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does all this mean for Gen X future?

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

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

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

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

What can Gen X do now to prepare for tomorrow?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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.


An Introduction To Gen Z

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

What Are Gen Zs Like?

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

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

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

Gen Z Are Conservative

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

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

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

Gen Z Don’t See Technology As A Perk

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

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

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

Working Hours / Working Spaces

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

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


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

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

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

How To Motivate Gen Zs

Motivation is a challenge I often hear from Leaders.

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

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

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

Keep Gen Z Accountable

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

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


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

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

Happy communicating… mentoring… and collaborating.

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

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

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

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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.

Why I Believe Millennials Are Marginally Motivated

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

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

Reason 1: We Don’t Hire The Right People

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

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

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

Reason 2: We All Excel When Respected

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

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

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

Reason 3: Millennials Want Meaningful Work

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

4 Ways To Help Your Employees Motivate Themselves

Wouldn’t it be nice to have employees motivate themselves?

Helping your employees motivate themselves is easier than you might think – and it starts by helping them feel good about the work they do. A powerful approach I teach in my Leadership Training or Executive Coaching is called Intrinsic Motivation. At a high level, Intrinsic Motivation is about helping employees feel one… or all of the following 4 things:

  1. Making a difference – working on something important
  2. Learning something – growing – developing
  3. Demonstrating an expertise they have
  4. Exercising independence – over what they do, when and how they are do it

Helping employees exercise independence (point #4 above), is a scary concept for some organizations; they fear no work will get done. On the contrary… most of the time. Of course, a balance between autonomy and accountability must be outlined and agreed upon. Once that balance is agreed upon, when employees are Intrinsically motivated they will be engaged, work harder, work longer and be more creative. When employees are Intrinsically motivated they will be happier. When employees are Intrinsically motivated no one needs to be worrying about work quality.

Personal pride is a wonderful motivator.

Here are 4 ways you can help your employees motivate themselves.self-motivation

  1. The first opportunity is a best practice that is as old as the hills (as my dad would say), but it works. Encourage employees to break projects and/or long-term goals into smaller manageable chunks.

Why does this work? Breaking projects into smaller projects lets people feel they are accomplishing things frequently. Big projects can feel overwhelming… especially when we are working on multiple big projects / priorities at the same time. Smaller chunks of work also have the wonderful advantage of helping us mentor junior employees; for example, smaller projects can be explained and delegated to Millennials who want to gain experience.

A word of caution, do not lose sight of the main project goals. We can sometimes get too involved in the details of the smaller project and this might compromise the success of the large project.

  1. See mistakes as learning opportunities. A positive and supportive work environment will always improve employee effectiveness. We all make mistakes. Let me say it again… we all make mistakes, and we have a choice to point fingers at who may be to blame (if there ever is only one person), or we can see mistakes as opportunities to be even more creative, to try something different and/or learn a new approach. Trust and respect are huge when it comes to self-motivation and group motivation.

Why does this work? When we are scared to try something new – when we blame ourselves or others for mistakes, we risk locking ourselves into ‘how we’ve always done it’. If you stand still you can be sure there is some other organization that will innovate right past you. Positive thoughts inspire us – negative thoughts can pull us down… so, evaluate mistakes as learning opportunities.

The Best Dreams Happen When You Are Awake.

  1. Surround yourself with positive people. This doesn’t mean you have to spend time with happy, bubbly people 7/24; that would be annoying.

Why does this work? When we stay positive we feel better and are often more creative and more productive. When we stay positive we evolve. The more you focus on being positive – in life and at work, the more you will motivate yourself to passionately focus on your goals. Even during difficulty, positive people are looking for solutions – not holding a grudge.

People who see the glass as half-full are so much easier to be around. Negative thinking is unpleasant to be around and your best employees might quit just to get away from it. This means you might be losing valuable talent for no good reason. By encouraging a positive approach you’ll soon see your work environment will become a happy, creative and productive place!

  1. Write in a Journal. I know – I know… you just rolled your eyes. Please try to write in a journal every day – even if it is only a short paragraph while you sit having breakfast, on the Go-Train or when you have a private moment.

Why does this work? By writing you get to explore feelings you might be holding back… and I bet you will come up with the best solutions. You’ll also begin recognizing how many wonderful experiences you have each day and that some of your challenges aren’t so big – or aren’t so important. By keeping a journal you’ll be building a more positive mindset and you’ll find yourself more motivated and look forward to what’s in store for you.

Keep track of your thoughts and feelings. Most importantly, each day write down two things you are happy or excited about.


If you are looking to create change in your organization – lasting change – look to how you can help your employees motivate themselves. In fact, when people experience self-motivation they will likely do more… do it better… and finish earlier. You and your employees will not be able to adopt these habits overnight… but with consistent, positive attention, before you know it these 4 ways will start making a difference. I promise.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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

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


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

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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.


What Leaders Should Know About Intrinsic Motivation & Extrinsic Motivation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Pride

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

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Employee Loyalty

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

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

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

Benefit: Intrinsic Motivation Increases Professional Development

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

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

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

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


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

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

Happy communicating… and mentoring… and training.

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

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

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

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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.


How To Motivate Millennials: 7 Best Practices

How To Motivate Millennials is a subject executives ask me about often.  There are many people I’ve met and spoken with who feel Millennials are not motivated. In fact, I recently received a similar comment in reference to one of the many Millennial focused blog posts I’ve written called ‘Work Ethics In The Workplace: Generation Differences.’

How To Motivate Millennials

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The comment I received is as follows… Regarding your statementMillennials have the reputation of having lazy work ethics and being hard to motivate which isn’t true… is itself untrue. Millennials absolutely do have lazy work ethics, and are among the most overwhelmingly incompetent workers I have ever come encountered. What’s even worse is they don’t seem to care.

Clearly this gentleman has had some bad experiences. I understand his frustration but do not agree; therefore, to help explain the work ethics of Millennials I responded to him by sharing 4 Best Practices on how to motivate Millennials. Because I have more room in this blog post, I’ve taken the liberty to elaborate and to include 7 Best Practices.

My Expanded Response Is As Follows

Thank you for your feedback (name removed for privacy).

I don’t doubt you’ve had some challenging experiences. I think everyone has ran into a Millennial who did not perform well. I have to balance the scale however and say that as a Boomer – I’ve worked with Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials who have fallen short of my expectations. I’ve also worked with Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials who have been amazingly hard-working, creative, devoted and who have sincere work ethics.

Speaking of Millennials specifically – they are different – no doubt about it. They cannot be defined in general terms as we’ve often been able to get away with when speaking about Boomers and Gen Xers… but good people from any generation can be good employees… if motivated. The following are 4 ways [expanded to 7] to motivate Millennials; they are:

  1. Make sure Millennials know the company mission, vision and values. This provides meaning to the employee. All employees – but especially Millennials are looking to take pride in their work as well as the company they work for. Sharing the companies value-based mission, vision and values and how you support your community as good corporate citizens will help the individual employee be motivated and engaged.
  2. Make sure you hire a Millennial whose interests and talents match the work. As they gain experience you might need to restructure their job to keep them engaged and learning new things. Two, three or four years in the same job will be torture for most Millennials (Gen Xers and Boomers). If they have talent you want – think about how to keep it. Perhaps job-sharing or cross-training is an option. NOTE: Millennials love to mentor others… and this enhances their leadership skills.
  3. Millennials enjoy being friendly with the people they work with including regular customers and suppliers. So, focus on relationships to keep things interesting for them. Find ways to have fun and build camaraderie. Perhaps take advantage of how socially responsible they are and have them take a leadership role in developing a fundraising event to support a local charity.
  4. A growing popular opportunity is to provide Millennials (and all employees), time to work on self-defined projects. This good for the company and the employee as it helps the employee feel more engaged and in control and boosts creativity and innovation within the company.
  5. Another must-have for Millennials (and some Gen Xers and Boomers like it also), is to offer ‘respectful’ flexibility. Being able to work from home one day a week – or come in late / early will be seen as a great motivator for many… and add to their loyalty to your company.
  6. Millennials do better with very regular evaluation and feedback; this helps keep them motivated and on the right path. You don’t need to make a big big deal about it – letting them know verbally or with a short, handwritten note will let them know you care enough to notice… so will work well.
  7. Treat them like adults. But be sure they know this means taking responsibility for successes and failures. Work with them to identify goals – timelines – and establish set times to mentor them. Remember – their strengths are knowledge not 25 years of experience. They are energetic, creative, technically savvy; they are also a fresh perspective. Give them a goal and then come up with ideas on how they’ll do it. If they suggest a way that will work within budget – but it is feasible… let them go with it… even if it isn’t the way you would do it.

Conclusion To: How To Motivate Millennials

Millennials want work and work/life balance that most of us would want… no matter how old we are. Millennials want meaningful work that expresses their needs, values, talents and desire to learn. That doesn’t sound like unrealistic work ethics… in fact it sounds quite normal.

The challenge is because Millennials rarely hold back (they were taught not to), they are going to actively pursue the career and the work/life balance they want. It’s not that they are not loyal – they are… and they will stay with your organization as long as their needs are being met.

You might be interested in my recent blog post called Baby Boomers And Millennials Are Alike.

Happy communicating and creating workplace harmony.

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 brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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.

Multigenerational Leadership

Look around most offices.  In most, there is a mix of at least three generations – all with very different work / life values and motivators. This multigenerational workforce is the new norm.  And because of this multigenerational mix, organizational leaders must break with traditional thinking that money is the ultimate reward and the organizational structure follows a hierarchy.

For the last 30-50 years leaders were able to rely on the knowledge – the truth – that most people from the same generation and cultural background share similar motivators and values. Leaders were able to rely on this because most of the North American workforce was made up of Anglo-Saxon Baby Boomers.

Today, we are experiencing a wonderful and expanding multigenerational and multicultural workforce.  In the next few years half of our eligible workers will be Millennials. In addition, many Boomers are not retiring (because they have to keep working, or they find work fulfilling), and early Generation Z employees are also now entering the workforce.

What this means is that leaders will need to help employees from all generations learn how to communicate with… and motivate each other. When multigenerational communication works, respect, loyalty and personal / organizational success flourishes.

For organization that wish to succeed, investment in multigenerational leadership and multigenerational communication is just as important as an upgrade of a critical piece of machinery. The only difference is that an investment in multigenerational leadership and multigenerational communication is without doubt one of their greatest competitive opportunities to propel their business into:

  • Greater employee engagement
  • Greater employee creativity
  • Greater employee retention
  • Greater employees and customer satisfaction
  • Greater growth / market share
  • Greater profitability
  • Lower costs

The organization that succeeds helps it’s employees recognize the value each generation offers and creates thriving, respectable teams. Successful organizations understand each individual can (and should), express their unique talents and personal goals as they focus – together – on shared organizational goals.Shared Goals

An organization wants a full system upgrade done in 6 months. As part of the upgrade team:

  1. Boomer employees will likely want to know:

  • Will there be a bonus for a successful upgrade delivered on time?
  • Might this lead to a promotion?
  • Will there be sincere recognition for meeting deliverables (from their boss is usually OK – or could be something bigger like within the company newsletter)?

  2. Millennial employees will likely want to know:

  • How can they uniquely contribute to the project?
  • What are they going to learn?
  • Who are they going to meet?
  • What might be the next opportunity that this opportunity leads to?

In a multigenerational workplace we need to give our employees / teams the tools, motivation and knowledge to build honest, respectful relationships based on ability (skill, knowledge and experience), and goals.

Quick Multigenerational Recap:

  • Boomers are traditionally motivated by money and status like office location, attending events and being the boss.
  • Xers are the first generation to focus on work / life balance – they saw their parents who were very loyal to one company 20 or 30 years get laid off.
  • Millennials want more work/life balance, freedom and opportunity. They are driven by a desire to better themselves, get recognition for and share their successes and to do meaningful work.
  • Generation Z (1995 – 2007), are optimistic, flexible and networked like no previous generation. Several other descriptors include “Generation V” (for virtual), “Generation C” (for community), “The New Silent Generation”, the “Internet Generation”, and even the “Google Generation.”

Conclusion: Multigenerational Leadership – Managing 3 or 4 Generations

To manage across the generations we have to learn to be mindful of each other and treat each other as individuals.

No matter what generation we are from, it’s too easy to keep doing what we are doing now and acting like each generation is (or should be), motivated by the same things we are.  Even if our professional – management instincts say “no – of course we don’t do this,” we have to be careful that our actions don’t demonstrate that we do.  We always have to be mindful of our actions and stay open to listening to each other.

Use everyone’s ability and goals.

Happy communicating.

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 brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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.

How Millennials Impact Employee Engagement

An employee engagement opportunity is upon us and we have two options:

  1. Take advantage of this opportunity to increase corporate profitability, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and employee loyalty.
  2. Hold onto our old ways and try to force… basically a square peg in a round hole?Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 1.22.28 PM

For organizations to be successful, one important part of the equation is to find and keep individuals who consistently give maximum contribution. Employees from all generations including Millennials will perform “consistently wellif they “Feel” consistently motivated and appreciated. Force is not an option; force will only make your workforce quit – or if they can’t quit… they will stay and check-out which is worse. This is worse because you are still paying them, their productivity drops and they will likely develop (and share), attitudes that negatively impact everyone else.

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 1.17.39 PM


For years employee motivation has been straight forward – Baby Boomers have worked with other Boomers… people who have all similar work/life values and approaches. For the most part they value hard work, paying your dues, good salaries, hierarchy and time in the office. Even when Generation Xers (roughly 2/3 the population size of Boomers), showed up things remained OK. Why? Because while Gen Xer values and approaches are different from Boomers (and Gen X did push certain employee engagement boundaries), they are also a very resourceful population and quickly figured out how to work in a Boomer dominated world.

Now Millennials are entering the workforce… and this is the opportunity… or the threat.  Millennials or Generation Y are ambitions, well educated and have always been encouraged by their Baby Boomer and Generation X parents to strive for more, be creative, learn and not settle… especially if it goes against what they think they want (and we’ve told them they can have anything). Millennials are also roughly the same population size of Boomers. And according to Time Magazine, by 2025 three out of four workers worldwide will be Millennials. 

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 1.18.43 PM


How To Positively Impact Employee Engagement?

The expanding Millennial workplace population share similar values and approaches, but each of them are on their own unique path to success. Therefore a group Employee Engagement Survey isn’t going to work. Employee engagement is not one size fits all anymore. We have to:

  1. Meet our employees demographic profile
  2. Respect their communication style
  3. Meet their individual, unique needs that to satisfy their unique path to success.

Improved employee engagement, productivity and group success means consciously taking advantage of (and mentoring/rewarding), the natural strengths of each team member. When we understand communication styles and values we are able to:

  • Accommodate different approaches to work, recognition and problem solving
  • Better align team members expectations and supervisor requirements
  • Improve individual and group creativity and productivity

It’s only when their employer consistently meets their values and personal goals, these Millennials will consistently demonstrate employee engagement and employee loyalty.

This process doesn’t mean tones of work – in fact in the long run it can mean less work and cost vs. training and retraining employees that get frustrated and quit. To have your employees want to consistently give maximum contribution, managers need to have one-on-one conversations… treating them as individuals and consistently addressing their personal and professional goals (including Gen X and Boomers).

For Millennials this means consistently addressing employee engagement goals that are important to them including travel, flexibility, continuous learning, self-expression and knowing how their work impacts the bigger picture.

Additional Benefits

When your team members understand their own and each others communication, mentoring and reward preferences, they can then focus on where they can add the most value based on talent, interest and individual / corporate need. The result is greater employee engagement, better team dynamics and productivity, greater employee loyalty resulting in lower turnover, and fewer conflicts to resolve.

Employee engagement; Develop Your Human Capital to Boost Growth and Efficiency.


Every workforce is fluid so employee engagement is something we have to work on every day – it will be part of daily meetings, feedback sessions, planning, project management, brainstorming sessions, and compensation and performance reviews – everything.Bruce Mayhew on Global TV

Addressing the needs of your multigenerational workforce will catapult employee engagement and performance in a way that will lead to individual and corporate success.

Happy communicating.

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 brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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.

%d bloggers like this: