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.

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Call us at 416.617.0462.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

Bruce

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 brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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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.

Bruce

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 brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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How Busy Professionals Improve Work-life Balance: Time Management Tips for home and work

The sacrifice is worth it” says many professionals who take pride in being dedicated workaholics. They even take their smart phone on vacation with them. And then they suddenly realize they’ve put on 50lbs, haven’t seen their partner or best friends in a year, don’t know their children’s favourite colour, book, food or sports team and likely can’t even remember the last time they socialized in a meaningful way (weddings and funerals don’t count). In short, their work-life balance is out of balance.

I’m not knocking working hard. As an entrepreneur I love what I do and don’t expect to retire; I hope I’m still delivering keynote presentations and communication skills training when I’m 65. I also totally agree there are crunch times when sacrifices must be made. But, when sacrifices go on for most of a year or two or more, many people who study organizational behaviour and productivity believe long-running sacrifices rarely benefit us personally, financially or professionally – or from a healthy living perspective.

Really? Perhaps you think “If I work hard I’ll make more money and be more successful?” For a sort time, yes… that is often the case. But, if we work all the time and are chronically exhausted, we are likely:

  • Not going to make the best strategic decisions
  • Going to make some mistakes we would not otherwise have made
  • Short tempered – perhaps hurt important relationships
  • Building a work environment that Reacts not Responds to client needs or business opportunities
  • Putting our mental health at risk
  • Dramatically increasing our risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes & more
  • Growing apart from our family and/or friends
  • Creating an invisible barrier called unfamiliarity with the people who should be close to us
  • Causing resentment in our family and/or friends
  • Losing our family and friends trust that you care… and will be there for them when needed
  • Missing important dates / occasions causing resentment, disappointment and further emotional distance

Question 1:
“How does a busy professional find work-life balance that involves all aspects of their lives?”

Answer: We must all make time for each (not some), of the following:

  • Work responsibilities
  • Home / living responsibilities
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Personal interests

Question 2:
“Why should bosses care about work-life balance for their employees?”

Answer: When we feel valued, respected and supported in our work life and our family life we feel more loyalty to our boss and to the company. When we feel our contribution and our time are respected we also care more about the quality of work we do (and we make fewer mistakes because we are not chronically exhausted).

When our personal and professional lives are in balance we are happier, more positive, more creative, more collaborative (I can go on), in both our work and family lives. This balance also enables us to pursue our professional goals which is again, benefits the company and our family.

Question 3:
“How do we make time?”

Answer: We also have to take more responsibility for our schedule than most of us currently do. We also need to recognize we all do better when we follow routines. Not only do routines help us manage our expectations and the expectations of others, they help us build memorable experiences with important people. Routines also help us save time by letting us prepare in advance and put hardware, software and support systems in place to help us with our routines. So:

  • Have a morning routine
  • Have a predictable routine at work
  • Have a routine in the evening
  • Have a routine for Saturday
  • Have a routine for Sunday

One ‘event’ many professionals feel helps balance work and family promises is committing to family dinners. Breakfasts might be out of the questions if you leave early for work, but a 6:30PM family dinner should be manageable for most professionals most of the time; especially if you get to work early in the morning.

Dinners with your partner and/or family are amazing for many different time management and relationship building reasons. One significant time benefit from a pre-scheduled meal routine is it makes grocery shopping efficient. It can also save you money because you know what to stock up on when they are on sale. Other benefits include:

  • You are not wasting time dashing out for last-minute items or making bad ‘fast food’ choices.
  • You may be able to make extra and freeze left-overs saving you time and effort in the future
  • You can bring left-overs for lunch giving you a healthy and cost saving alternative to food courts

Family dinners enable you to involve your children in all aspects of meal planning including meal choice, shopping, cooking and cleaning up. Not only does this teach children how to cook, involving your children teaches them responsibility, social skills and how to confidently care for themselves. Involving children in meal preparation also can develop a sense of pride… and can exercise their creativity if they start experimenting with recipes – adding ingredients they love or finding alternatives for ingredients they dislike… like Brussel Sprouts).

For example, a family end-of-day meal schedule children can participate in is:

  • Slow Cooker Stew Mondays
  • Homemade Veggie Pizza Tuesdays
  • Burger Wednesdays
  • Mexican Chicken Veggie Stir-fry Thursdays
  • Spaghetti Fridays
  • Surprise Saturdays (you might even go out)
  • Roast Sundays

Three More Things:
Three more things busy professionals with a family can do to improve time management both at home and at work:

  • Prioritize your to do list – plan your week not your day. Possible solution, spend 5 minutes planning at night and then 5 more minutes first thing in the morning.
  • Have discussions at work and at home about expectations, values and responsibilities.
  • Embrace delegation – share responsibility – and accept responsibility with your coworkers and family. When you delegate, use it as a mentoring, learning experience.

Conclusion:
One of the best ways to start your day is to get a good night sleep – that means get to bed at a decent hour. This helps you wake up refreshed in the morning.

Some of the most successful professionals believe it’s critical to have a good morning routine that includes some exercise and a healthy breakfast. For example, Sir Richard Branson says, “I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness,” says Branson to FourHourBodyPress. Branson continues,“I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit”. Mark Zuckerberg (who usually exercises first thing when he wakes up) says, “It keeps the brain functioning well”.

Every morning might be slightly different but routine helps you, your children and your co-workers manage expectations, increase productivity and experience work-life balance. The following is a sample morning schedule.

Time Management Morning Schedule for Professionals

Routine is critical as well as calendar management. Let either of these out of your control and you can kiss productivity away.

Final Note:
Have a weekend schedule: For example, on Sunday:

  • Sleep in
  • Family pitches in together to streamline:
    • Everybody helps clean the Kitchen, Family room, Bedroom & Bathroom
    • 50% of you do Laundry
    • 50% of you go Grocery Shopping
    • Everybody helps on Pre-Meal Preparation
    • Reward Brunch in a restaurant with the kids and friends
    • Sunday night – no plans
    • Schedule some downtime
    • Schedule 30 minutes to get acquainted with the next week.

Happy communicating and training… and taking responsibility for your schedule and work-life balance.

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Work From Home: Tips to be a better communicator and a better listener

One of the biggest challenges for work from home professionals is connecting with other people.

We are constantly bombarded with texts and emails, but what we miss is the opportunity to join in meaningful conversation with someone outside of our personal support circle. We miss the casual unexpected and undocumented updates many at-office workers share as they walk to meetings together.  We miss connecting at the water cooler, Starbucks or having a quick lunch with someone in another department… which all seem harmless and often insignificant, but do have a way of disseminating information, building trusting coworker relationships.

So, as a work from home guy, having face-to-face conversations is something I actively try to have. Sometimes it is with clients or prospects, sometimes it is with thought-leaders who challenge me. Sometimes it is just with friends – where we find time when we are not at a movie or a loud bar… but someplace where we can chat and reconnect.

Most of the time I find the conversations I have invigorating. Why? Because being a work from home guy means I am in control of much of my own thought processes – patterns. Having an intentional conversation with someone stretches… and sometimes reaffirms my beliefs / opinions. Almost always they challenge me.

If I was to give someone advice about working from home and work-life balance, it would be to make sure you have face-to-face conversations with someone outside of your traditional circle at least once a week. And, I recommend you adopt a rescue dog who will force you to get up and go for a walk … they make great companions.

Conversation & Listening Best Practices

When I’m having a conversation I do my best to choose to “Be in conversation” which often means I am conscious that I want to do more listening than speaking. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Here are 5 steps I use to remind me how to be a better listener:

  1. Decide you will be a listener. Pay attention. If you are easily distracted (like I am), put your back to TV’s or crowds or windows. Don’t talk over or them. Ever. Listen with your undivided attention.
  2. Agree with yourself that you will not be the expert. And you will not drive the conversation to a topic where you are the expert.
  3. Let the other person have a story – and the spotlight. If they are telling a story about a guy who cut them off in traffic, listen to what is important for them. Don’t start thinking about or telling your story of when some guy cut you off in traffic. 9 times out of 10, your story doesn’t matter at this moment!!!
  4. Watch their body language. Are they excited about what they are talking about? Proud? Worried? Surprised? Their body language can often tell you a lot about what they are saying… and how important it is to them.
  5. Treat them with respect. Ask great questions. By being a good listener and by watching them, you will be able to ask insightful, relevant, meaningful questions that show you are curious and perhaps challenge each of your thinking.

So there you have it. My take on work from home and the importance of being a better listener.

We hope you enjoyed this post. Happy communicating, listening and working from home.

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

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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.

Conclusion

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.

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

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

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

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

Work-Life Balance Is More Achievable Than Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter ROWE (Results Only Work Environment).

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

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

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

How You Can Build a ROWE Performance-Driven Work Culture

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

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

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

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

Do Flexible Work Hours Count?

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

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

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

ROWE Will Attract Loyal Millennials… And Other Generations

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

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

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

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

It’s Critical To Measure Deliverables

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

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

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

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

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

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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

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Millennials vs. Other Duties As Assigned: 3 Approaches For Success

Employees from all generations want work that’s interesting, rewarding and meaningful. But as one Baby Boomer parent (and boss), recently said to me , “Many Millennials feel ‘Other Duties As Assigned’ are a waste of their potential“.  

The challenge is that there’s always uninspiring work that simply needs to get done in every organization and every department. So what can Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials do to help each other?

Millennials In The Workforce

  • As a Boomer or Generation Xer boss, this is where you have considerable impact as you help Millennial employees see value in even small tasks and grow into valuable, productive and happy employees.
  • As a Millennial employee, how you shoulder these ‘Other Duties As Assigned’ may be one of the best demonstrations of your professional character. For example, do you complete these duties with professional confidence, pride and respect or do you choose a less flattering approach?

Here are 3 approaches how all generations can help each other ‘Lean In’ to ‘Other Duties As Assigned’. 

Approach #1: Ask Millennials For Their Unique Perspective

Since Millennials instinctively look at situations from a fresh perspective, use this as an advantage.  Ask for their ideas on how to get the task done better / quicker / differently?  This will engage this newest workplace generation because they get to use their creativity and feel they’ve been able to make a real difference. Be warned – Millennials can see an insincere request from one thousand paces so if you ask, be sure you also consider their recommendations; if they feel they’ve been manipulated they’ll become even less motivated.

Approach #2: Engage Teamwork

Most Millennials place a high priority on workplace culture and love to work in teams. Also, when they see their associates participating they’ll be more inclined to want to join in.  While Millennials are always on the lookout for ‘Important Work’, they certainly won’t want to miss an opportunity to gain experience or to enhance their reputation with their boss.

Approach #3: Respect Work/Life Balance

Work / life balance is very important to Millennials. If they have to do ‘Other Duties As Assigned’, these duties should be part of their expected working hours. Millennials will expect to be compensated if they have to work late/weekends (which is less common a need for Boomers and Gen Xers). Turn this Millennial expectation into an opportunity by positioning this time-off as a flexible perk your employees get to control (which translates to higher engagement and corporate loyalty).  Note: As Boomers and Generation Xers get older and have grandchildren and financial freedom they also enjoy more time-off and flexibility.

Conclusion

With the number of Millennials in the workforce growing everyday, it’s critical to corporate success that organizations revise their talent management strategies as soon as possible.  Every year this inevitable task is delayed will create exponential challenges in the future to attract and retain employees with key skills your organization needs… and your competitors want.

You can be the change your company or department needs. You can start this powerful change. Be the leader that will help your organization to become The Best Company To Work For in your market.

Happy communicating.

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

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3 Easy Time Management Tips For The Office

Effective Time Management wasn’t part of my upbringing.  My family dynamic was certainly Work Hard… but Working Smart wasn’t on the radar.

I’m not saying my parents wasted much time. They did not. I know it is cliché, but things were less complicated back then.

  • At home my parents didn’t drive us three children from one practice to another – we entertained ourselves.
  • At work my parents didn’t have computers or email. If they wanted to speak to someone they did it face-to-face, over the (hard-wired) telephone or mailed a letter (all three increase comprehension and facilitate trusting relationships).

Almost dinosaur times eh?

Then in the 1980’s the theory called Working Smart became popular which was – and still is about goal setting and reorganizing work to improve performance based on company objectives.

This theory was successful helping employees be productive. But today that’s not enough. Our economy and our work are motivating us to Work Hard and Work Smart… and new technologies (like computers and smart phones), are supposed to be helping.

Unfortunately we are adding many hours back in our day and I believe we’re letting technology distract us from Working Smart. We’ve replaced Working Smart with Working Fast… and the Tortoise and the Hare fable reminds us Working Fast doesn’t create long-term results. 

6 Signs You May Be Working Hard – Not Working Smart

  1. You get to the office before 8AM and leave after 7PM… or later
  2. Your email inbox has many unread email
  3. You have trouble getting a restful sleep
  4. Your temper is shorter – and the people closest to you feel this first
  5. You uncharacteristically miss due dates
  6. You work every weekend – even at the cottage

I believe the only way for each of us to stay healthy and for our companies to survive is to once again achieve greater work / life balance.

Tip 1: Identify Important Work Vs. Busy Work

Make sure your key objectives and Important Work take priority.

Early in my career I had a great year having added a few special projects to my workload. Unfortunately my boss gave me a ‘Meets Expectations’ performance rating that year. His simple answer was that my performance was measured on my key objectives… and all I did was meet them. He was right, I let my above average performance suffer because I took added many special projects that did not advance the key objectives for my job.

Busy work takes on many forms including:

  • Special Projects
  • Volunteering to help a co-worker
  • Work you like doing that may not be part of your job, or a low priority
  • Distracting habits (like checking Facebook, going for coffee, cleaning your office)

Tip 2: Minimize Interruptions From Technology And People

Our computers, smart phones and tablets all have alarms and because these systems are synchronized, when the alarms go off it turns into a cascade of interruptions. Turn off reminders and alarms on all devices except the one you have with you at all time. For that one – put it on vibrate so it’s a reminder – not an interruption.

Our co-workers are fabulous people but many want to say hi every time they walk by our office. If “sorry, I really need to concentrate on this” doesn’t work, book a meeting room or use an empty office. There are many ways to minimize interruptions, just know that the right solution for you may not work for me.

It’s important to block out the world when you need to focus.

Tip 3: Do Strategic Work In The Morning

Study after study shows almost all of us are more creative and strategic in the morning… even people who don’t think they are morning people. The reason is that we are most rested then.

To paraphrase author Laura Vanderkam, author of the e-book, “What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast,” the most successful people do their important work in the morning (Laura calls it things they love).

If you lead a team you can get the best of this Tip and Tips #1 and #2 by starting each day with a team meetings to review key projects and deliverables.  This gets everyone focused on:

  • Their own important ‘TO DO‘ list
  • Key department issues
  • Being in the office on-time
  • Casual conversations (which can help foster a caring at-work team)

Conclusion

Work / life balance means we will all experience time at home to do the things that are important to us.  And almost immediately, work / life balance leads to higher productivity, company profits and enjoyment / pride at work.

How you manage your time will reflect on you and your success.

Happy communicating.

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

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I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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

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I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Improve Your Time Management Skills

You feel stressed with how busy you are. You are having a challenge and you know your time management skills are part of problem because you:

  • Answer email at all hours of the day and night.
  • Work long hours – even weekends.
  • Feel you often do other people’s work.
  • Don’t get rewarded for some of the work you do.
  • Sometimes miss key deliverables associated with your key performance objectives.

You want change. You want a work-life balance you see others enjoying.

The first thing I would like you to consider is that busy doesn’t mean important. In fact, busy work often means your important work is not getting done and the quality of your work is suffering.

Working more effectively means being able to make important work your priority.

Scheduling your important work is one of many time management skills that can help you fulfill your dreams… but change isn’t easy. Learning how to schedule your important work first takes practice and often coaching.

How To Identify Important Work

Ask yourself “What are my top priorities?” You need to define what you need to do today to be successful tomorrow… and even more successful in 18 months.

For individuals, important work means identifying all of the tasks, steps, partners and dates that are critical to you reaching your key performance objectives and / or driving your business forward.

  • For a sales professional, important work might mean reviewing last years high-growth markets so you can identify and make contact with enough qualified sales calls to meet your end-of-year sales target.

Smart companies (or Presidents / Boards) know what the long-term goals are and how these goals break down into important work for each department and individual.

  • For a company like Apple, important work means aligning all the tasks and decisions thousands of employees must complete for Apple to stay on schedule with a new product release.

Important work and time management skills are a balance of many things. They depend on your job, personality, support systems, natural abilities, education and many other influences. Whether they are personal objectives or corporate objectives, important work has to be planned for and has to have the appropriate time set aside.

One of the most common time management challenges is that long-term objectives are pushed aside and less important busy work assigned until important work becomes urgent work.

Important work should also engage your creativity, be useful and make you proud. Nobody will fully invest their talents and create high-quality work if they expect it will be ignored.

How To Identify Busy Work?

Work is bad if it distracts you from your key performance objectives… unless you purposely use it to fill a temporary gap in your schedule (or experience).

One of the most common reasons people feel overworked and not recognized is because they get pulled into urgent work that’s not their responsibility. Is any of your current work someone else’s responsibility?

Your boss or associates may try to pull you away from your important work without realizing the impact they are having on your deliverables as they try to meet their key performance objectives. But remember; important work for them might be busy work for you. You might need to learn to say no… carefully.

It’s easy for us to get caught because many of us like to be the ‘knight in shining armor’ who helps save the day. But unscheduled busy work is often the cause for:

  • Long hours
  • Your work quality decreasing
  • Missed strategic timelines
  • Stress
  • Low personal and team morale

When this happens your customers (and boss) lose confidence in you!

What’s The Impact Of Effective Time Management Skills?

I have more to say on effective time management than I can include here. But at a high level, effective time management skills leads to:

  • Increased personal productivity
  • Increased work quality
  • Pride & job satisfaction
  • Greater engagement
  • Less stress for you and the people around you.

To be an effective time manager you have to be clear on your key performance objectives. To be clear about what these objectives are, it’s good for you (and for your boss / associates), to write down AND schedule your important projects.

People and companies that manage time well often are more responsible to their market, their customers and build more creative solutions since they take time to plan, research or brainstorm projects / objectives.

Here are a few more time management tips to get your started.

Time Management Tips

Good time management helps you focus on your important work.

1. Experience Every Moment

Even when you are delayed you have an opportunity to do more than procrastinate. I always have important work with me to read or edit. Most of the time I don’t need it but for the times a meeting is delayed or cancelled I am very happy I have it.

2. Manage Interruptions

One of the biggest time wasters are the short interruptions and quick questions people ask us throughout the day. This is similar to trying to multitask – and research shows that productivity drops when we try this. The result is that errors go up and quality goes down.

What if every day between 10:30 and 1:00 PM was quiet time with no calls, no email, no interruptions, no meeting for your whole department?

or…

What if you hung a “Can it Hold” or “Unavailable until 11:30 AM” sign at the entrance to your office / desk or on the back of your chair.  This is more positive than a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Encourage others in your office to do the same. Help manage people’s expectations about your needs – and theirs.

3. Manage Your Alarms

Turn off your email, IM service, telephone and smart phone.  Check them 3 or 4 times a day – even hourly… whatever makes sense for your job. But the distraction caused by the constant ringing drops your productivity, quality and creativity like a stone.

4. Plan For Busy Work

Leave some time open in your schedule every day to deal with “items that have developed” especially if you have people reporting into you.  If nothing happens during this time – treat yourself to a coffee, go for a walk, then get a jump on your next project, brainstorm an idea you’ve had or make a few courtesy client / supplier calls.

The important thing here is to prepare for the unexpected to happen. If you don’t “Urgent” issues will have negative repercussions in the short AND long-term.

Conclusion

Effective time management means that the important tasks get done first – and that you do these tasks when you are at your best.

If you want to improve your time management skills you have to start by defining your job / work responsibilities and then identify the ‘important’ work that will lead to your success.

  • What is that work?
  • What does success look like?
  • How will success be measured?
  • Who do I have to involve – and put on notice?
  • What are the critical timelines / project milestones?

Are some of your work habits (time management skills), holding you back?

It’s time for you to achieve greatness.

Happy communicating… Happy training.

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.

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