The Favorites Game: Bob Nelson

By: Interview by Kristin Clarke CAE

Author and workplace consultant Bob Nelson shares his favorite productivity boosters

Productivity declines seem counterintuitive during a weak economic time. Isn't everyone trying to prove their value to an organization to avoid a layoff? Quite the opposite, according to author and workplace consultant Bob Nelson.

"Actually, 74 percent of employees today acknowledge that their personal productivity has dropped. As a country we [experience] $4.4 billion a day in lost productivity, so it's a real concern," says Nelson, whose work—including his latest book Ubuntu! An Inspiring Story About an African Tradition of Teamwork and Collaboration—explores high-performance workplaces and motivation.

Nelson urges managers to ask subordinates one of his favorite questions: "What do you think we should do about this problem?" Listening to the employee shows great respect, Nelson says, even if the response can't be fully implemented. Here are Nelson's other favorites:

Bob Nelson's Favorites

Favorite motivation myth: One size fits all.

Favorite performance review question: "Tell me what you're most proud of in the past year."

Favorite team motivator: Ask what they'd like to do if they successfully achieve their goals.

Favorite question to ask a boss: "How can I best help you be successful in your job?"

Favorite way to change a work culture: Create a conversation around the question, "If we could do something, anything, what would that look like?"

Favorite Ubuntu moment: "I am because we are"—realizing that for all the focus on differences in society, we are all connected, and the more we realize that, the easier it is to start with any person to find commonality.

Favorite personal reward: A massage.

Favorite thing about living in California: Here comes the sun!

Interview by Kristin Clarke, CAE, a writer, editor, and researcher  for ASAE & The Center. Email: [email protected]