Dr.Bob Nelson, President, Nelson Motivation,Inc.

Performance Management Interview with Dr.Bob Nelson, President, Nelson Motivation,Inc.- GroSum TopTalkDr. Bob Nelson is the leading advocate for employee recognition worldwide and the only person who has done a Ph.D. dissertation on the topic. He has consulted on that topic and related ones (employee engagement, retention) for 80 percent of the Fortune 500 as well as presented on six continents. He has sold 5 million books, including 1501 Ways to Reward Employees, The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, The Management Bible, Recognizing & Engaging Employees For Dummies and Ubuntu! among others. His latest book is 1001 Ways to ENGAGE Employees. Dr. Bob has been featured extensively in the national and international media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CBS 60 Minutes, MSNBC, ABC, PBS and NPR about how best to motivate today’s employees.


What is currently missing in the way overall employee performance is being managed? 

As the world of business has become more “high tech,” virtual, faster moving with constant change, management needs to be more personal and “here & now” in how it deals with workers. 

Given that a company’s workforce now has a significant proportion of virtual and freelance workers, how should performance management include them?

All relationships are built on rapport and all rapport comes from shared experiences. If you have an employee that will be working virtually or on a part-time or project basis, it is especially important to invest time in getting to know the worker at the outset of the work and then to provide clear and frequent communication opportunities to be assured that work is progressing as you (and they) anticipated. For example, a lot of virtual workgroups begin each day with all members of the team on a video or audio conference call and a quick sharing as to what each person is working on and who might need the help of others in the group on that day. Then group members can check in with each other as needed as the day progresses. “Out of sight” does not and should not mean “out of mind.” 

What are employees, managers, and decision-makers looking to make performance management more effective?

A steady stream of two-way communication that is primarily positive and supportive and yields no surprises to anyone along the way.

What are some of the new things being introduced in Performance Management that are working/not working?

One of the latest trends in Performance Management is to do away with performance evaluations and substitute those with more periodic (monthly, quarterly) review meetings to see how work is coming. This can have its advantages, especially since most managers are uncomfortable in personally judging employees, delivering negative news, and discussing potential salary actions that employees expect. Often, since they are given a fixed percentage of their group payroll, eg, 3-5 percent, to award to individuals, giving one person a higher increase means giving someone else on the team a lower or no salary increase. This is why most managers dread performance reviews, along with the time it takes to do the paperwork, plan for and hold the discussion with employees. Replacing this process with a more regular form of communication is great–if you keep to that commitment and still deal with negative issues when needed. Payment actions should be taken as needed (for increased responsibilities and stellar performance), not just because another year has gone by. 

If not periodic appraisals, then what & how?

The best management has no surprises. It treats employees as partners with a steady stream of communication, leading with the positive (vision/thanks/support) and dealing with the potentially negative (redirecting/learning from mistakes/development) as necessary in a positive, supportive way.


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