Finding Ways to Engage Employees

Finding Ways to Engage Employees

Every year, companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to increase employee engagement. But is it working? And why is it so important anyway? Dr. Bob Nelson, author of 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees, joins us to answer these questions and more. We’ll cover simple but impactful methods for increasing engagement, the areas you need to focus on the most, and new strategies for empowering your people to grow and stay engaged on their terms.

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Run Time: 39:37

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Brandon Laws: As the title of your brand new book 1001 Ways to Engage Employees suggests, you offer a ton of ideas about how to engage employees. I want to dive through some of that. We won’t be able to get through all 1001 of them. But I wanted to ask you first – how did you even start writing a book like this? How do you come up with as many ideas as you came up with?

Dr. Bob Nelson: The first “1001 Ways” book I did was 24 years ago, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees and I just had a – we know recognizing people, thinking that we’re doing a good job, works.

We’ve got hundreds of studies that say you get what you reward. I focus in on, “Well, why the heck don’t people do it if it works?” and that’s actually the core question I had in my – I did my doctoral dissertation which I did a three-year study answering that one question. Why don’t people do this? And compelled me to do a resource that just is light on theory and charts and is showing people the power of a great example.

Here’s what this company did. Here’s what happened when they did it. Here are the results they got. You could probably get the same.

Brandon Laws: Yeah, it’s so powerful because there are so many simple ideas in this book. To your point, it’s not all theory. It’s actual practical ideas that don’t cost a lot of money to implement and I love that because you really connect with the reader, I think, by simplifying that message.

Dr. Bob Nelson: Yes, yes. If that idea, you open the book anywhere, here’s a usable idea. If that one doesn’t work, turn the page. So, then all of a sudden, the task is to find the ones that fit for you or you use this as a base to have your own discussion, this type of things and get something going in your department or in your company, wherever you’re trying to make a difference where people work.

Brandon Laws: So, what does it take to finish this book? I mean did you have to do hundreds, thousands of interviews with businesses or how did you like get all this data?

Dr. Bob Nelson: Well, it’s funny because you look at a book like this and it looks like, “Yeah. Well, what could be easier?” You piece together a bunch of examples. Done. But actually this – it took me about 12 years.

Brandon Laws: Oh my gosh.

Dr. Bob Nelson: Yeah. Well, I’m doing other stuff along the way. But you have an idea for a book, you can have that in three seconds and then you do a proposal and then you get people interested and so it becomes iterative. You get stuck in different parts of it or you go to sources that worked for the previous book and didn’t work for this one.

So, it’s a combination of primary sources where you go to people directly. I reach out to my clients. I reach out – I might speak to people who have ideas or I’m almost a clearinghouse for usable ideas around motivation for employees today. Then you look at secondary sources.

From magazines, from newspapers, to business journals, anything that gets down to the nitty-gritty and real-life example. Then you – what’s unique about this too is that these are likely ideas, but it’s research-based. By that I mean that the foundation for the book, the structure, the categories that are discussed are validated research as to the variables, the factors that most impact people being engaged at work. By that, I mean bringing their A-game fully motivated to their best on a daily basis.

So, actually in priority order, from the start of the book on back, it’s – what the research indicates is most significant in driving the variable of engagement, which is very big today in all organizations because the benefits are so immense that we can get right now. It has been the same for the last 20 years, which also prompted this book. The number of engaged employees in our country is about 30, 31 percent and that number has not changed in 20 years of the Gallup organization researching this topic.

So, at some point, you go, “Well, gee. We’re not doing something,” because – since we’ve moved the needle on that and in fact the other two-thirds are either disengaged or actively disengaged, almost on the border of sabotage. It’s like – so I guess I was a little frustrated that there’s – as important as the topic is, there’s not a lot of movement on helping companies do it better. Again, the power of a great idea on this specific topic. I hope it would be of great value to anyone in any industry, any size organization from a corporation to a small business, to just working with one person.

The things I talk about, the examples I share are simple and it’s the type of thing where you hear when you go, “Oh, yeah. One, I could do that and wow, what a great idea,” and then we will try it and then see if it works. If it works, then keep doing it. So, it’s that type of – it was Voltaire in the 17th century that said that, “Common sense isn’t often common practice.”

So, in many – and I take it as a compliment. People say, “The whole book is common sense.” Well, thank you. Thank you very much. Common sense but not common practice. So hopefully having this book can find someone that – it helps make it easier. If they’re looking to do something, they could flip through the book or I have management that tells me, “I take your books and I pass them around my group and I have them initial ideas like in the margin. It doesn’t mean I have to do any of them. But if I want to do something to surprise or delight someone, well then I can take the guesswork out of it.”

Brandon Laws: You earlier defined what employee engagement means and I think you put it simply. Like it’s when people bring their A-game, right? What does it look like – if everybody is bringing their A-game, what would the company, the organization culture – what would the results of the business also be like? What is the feel of if everybody brought their A-game, what does that look and feel like?

Dr. Bob Nelson: Well, it’s very exciting because it compounds upon each other. So, you’re excited and then if you get that bounced back at you from peers, from your boss then you’re even more excited, now you’re thinking about work on your commute to work, you know. You’re excited about making a difference. You’re excited about sharing your ideas, about – your ideas being used. And it just gets better and better and it’s kind of like a fever pitch. The company gets better and better.

I had – for example, I worked with one company in Connecticut where – and again, this is a simple idea and this is part of engagement, asking people for their ideas and input. OK?

What does that cost you to do that? Anyone have an idea on what we should do about this? Just doing that and doing it well, they start asking all employees to turn in two ideas a week and well, OK, that sounds like a good idea. Anyone could do that. Next week, we’re going to do that two ideas or this week.

Next week, they did it again. How many ideas can someone have? The week after that, two more ideas. Oh, you got to be kidding. This company has been doing it now 17 years. So, what happens is you develop your idea muscle. You get ideas from other people. They have meetings. Everyone brings their ideas there and so they brainstorm and so as a result, what happens when – this is just one idea by the way.

When this triggers, they end up increasing their revenues five-fold in three years just by asking people for ideas. That’s a great idea and they didn’t have a big committee to evaluate and shoot them down and say, “What gives you the idea to say what we should be doing?” None of that. They took a volunteer from the work group.

One of the people suggesting ideas and he would go over them this week and wow, that’s a great idea. Jerry, you should really do that one. Let us know if we can help you with your idea. Just give more energy to the idea that the person came up with it and now it’s being supported. You’re being thanked and well, if the person needs some resources, make that happen. Who wants to help Jerry? And off we go.

So, all of a sudden, work has a whole different meaning when you can actively engage it and you bring your best ideas, your initiatives, your energy and help other people with theirs. Now you got more teamwork going. It’s just the whole thing is upward trend. So that’s the power of that.

Now to be honest, it took a couple of tries, a couple of false starts and then they learned lessons on the way. So, for example, if you’re new at that company, for the first year, you’re only allowed to do ideas that relate to the job you’re doing. They’re not going to throw mud at the accounting department in your first month on the job.

So, you develop this maturity among people that ideas here are what we think could make things better from – here’s what we did in my last company. I did internet search. This idea looks like something that’s viable for us.

So, let people loose and let them maximize their input. That’s just a – this is just on one theme of ideas. So, you take – I remember Best Buy when they hit the recession, which kind of hammered all retail. Well, they – what they did is they sent out an email to everyone. If anyone has any ideas for how we could save money, this is a time we really need it.

Now they could have done that anytime – but now at the time of crunch time, they reached out to their employees and say, “If you got anything, give it to us.” They got 9000 ideas for how they could save money, 9000.

Brandon Laws: Unreal. Wow!

Dr. Bob Nelson: Now all those didn’t get implemented. But a lot of them did and right behind that, just thanking people for those ideas. It’s going to set the next wave of ideas and again that helped them to actually go stronger during the recession and their – one of their main competitors Circuit City, who didn’t take that approach, yeah, they actually – they got crunch time. What did they do? They did what a lot of management did. Oh, gee, we’re going to have to cut people. Ninety percent of our budget is salaries. We’re going to have to cut people and cut they did. They laid off 9000 people all throughout the organization.

Well, great, except now you’re in a store and you can’t get help. So, they end up going out of business. In the same time frame, well, their competitor took off. That’s the power of this. In just a nutshell, just in one idea. So, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked to people and they say, “Gee, your book helped us grow our revenues 20 percent. Your book did this, your book did that.”

I had a guy once tell me in a conference walking by and – he saw me, came over and said, “Your book saved my marriage.” I go, “What?” Well, I’m not talking about relationships and how to improve these. Oh, actually, that works in any relationship, to be considerate and do thoughtful things. So instead of giving your loved ones the dregs of what you have to offer, start treating them special. Anyway, so that’s the power of idea. That’s the power of a big book that captures ideas.

Brandon Laws: What a great illustration. I’m really curious. From your perspective, who owns employee engagement? Is it everybody? Is it HR? Is it the senior leaders? Is that like – what’s the answer if there is one?

Dr. Bob Nelson: That’s actually a very great question and actually the foreword of the book – Marshall Goldsmith wrote and he wrote it on that question. Who owns employee engagement? Because – and the – you would think that who owns it is the company because whenever they survey their employees, they ask, “Are you engaged? Do you feel valued here? Are you respected by leadership?” It makes it really easy for an employee to go, “No! No, I’m not.”

Even if you do better and say, “Keep working on it!” and then you’re never off the hook. Whereas Marshall’s foreword, he said no, who owns employee engagement is the employee. So, he said instead of asking, “Do you feel valued?” and similar type questions, Q-12 type questions from Gallup which all phrase in what I can do for you kind of thing, they should be turned around to be – to ask, “What are you doing to deserve recognition in your job? What are you doing to do your best to set clear goals? What are you doing to make clear the resources you need to do a great job?”

So, all of the onus is now – this is on the employee. Ultimately that’s where we can change things. If it’s just the same, it’s all management’s fault or upper management’s fault, then we’re never going to get anywhere.

Brandon Laws: In the research that you’ve done, what are the areas that you found hold the most significance in fluency and employee engagement? Really, this is I think the foundation for your book and maybe there’s a particular order in which you found things are more important than others. But what are some of those things?

Dr. Bob Nelson: Well, yes, and actually I’m very proud of the fact that I organized the book in priority order. The first chapter shows the most impact on influencing engagement. In fact, 56 percent of engagement comes from just doing things in the first chapter, which is on recognition. This is what the research shows, which I love because I’m kind of the godfather of recognition. So, I did my doctoral thesis on this. I did 1001 Ways to Reward Employees. I did a dummies book of a thousand – recognizing and engaging employees for dummies.

So, I’m all about how to do recognition better and here research indicated that’s the number one driver of the culture of engagement. So, hey, that would be first and foremost.

So, what does that mean? Well, again, it comes down to the easiest is also the most impactful. So, a simple thank-you for doing a good job. As simple as that is – and similar things that are feeling valued and a meaningful recognition. That could be a note. It could be from the department and staff. It could be an email. That category of things. Personal praise, electronic, written notes, public praise. It’s a really rich dimension. In fact, in my research, those four categories, personal, public, electronic and written, were what popped out as being mutually exclusive, which in statistical terms means that they don’t overlap. My initial reaction, well, how could that be? Because those are all praise. Isn’t praise one big bucket? No. Actually, it’s not. It’s such a powerful dimension that the different types of praise have different meanings to people.

Think about it. Think of the time that someone personally thanked you for something you did versus a time you got a note from somebody that thanked you. Did those resonate different with you? Did you save the note?

Think of a time that you were in front of other people. You were thanked. They each have a different – it’s like a different cylinder of the car fire and you got to fire into all of those. So that’s a big one and – but other things that are also no cost from my research are – I mentioned asking people for their ideas and suggestions. If they got a good one, allow them to pursue it. That’s autonomy, authority. Those are great forms of recognition. I trust you to do a good job. Someone gave you the authority or resources to do it because you’ve shown that you can make things happen. That’s a good one.

Not only will that happen but they’re going to be looking to do more. Communication, two-way communication is very powerful. Involving people in decisions is – again, what does that cost? Hey, I want to get everyone’s input on this decision.

Even if you say, “I’m the manager. So, I got to make the final decision. I know it will be a better one if I get your input because you’re closest to the jobs you’re doing and we got to implement this together.” So, wow, just start with the people you’re going to have to sell it to.

Again, common sense, right? But not common practice. If someone makes a mistake, this – I love this one. If someone makes a mistake, there are so many managers that see their job as managers being a super worker to find all the mistakes and fix them for everybody or maybe take the job back because I couldn’t trust you to do it to begin with.

Well, bravo, bravo. You’re the smart person in the room. They’re getting their resume ready because they can’t stand working for you. They’re not learning. They’re not growing. They’re not challenged. There are so many people. That’s the story they get at work and so don’t be the manager that reacts and jumps all over mistakes and embarrasses the person in front of the staff and – they already know they made a mistake.

So just take a breath. Take a step back and say, “You know, Tony, I’m not sure we’re doing it the same way. But what did you learn from that? That could be the best training you’ve had all year. I’m glad you made that mistake.” Wow! How would you feel if that was your boss that said that? Wow, I’m not getting my head taken off. Wow, the person had my interest and our relationship was more important than any given mistake.

Wow, that is sending a message through your behavior and that’s going to come back and serve you many, many times. You’re not working for a jerk. Now everyone goes to work for a great company and they end up leaving a bad manager. If you have a good manager that’s doing these things I’m talking about, you’ve got a great job and your life is better.

If you’ve got a poor manager that’s not doing these things, micromanaging you, finding fault, embarrasses you in front of others, upper management, makes you feel small, well, not only do you hate your job. You hate that person. You hate your job. Yeah, you take it home and your whole life is a living hell. You can’t stand your job.

Fifteen percent of the time at home – research indicates that we spend 15 percent of our time at home complaining about the boss.

Brandon Laws: That’s a troubling stat.

Dr. Bob Nelson: Isn’t it? Just flipping that. What is it? Fifteen percent – we could just as easily spend 15 percent and say, “Hi. You won’t believe what happened today. My boss, yeah, he called me in his office and he just said that, ‘I want to tell you I’ve been noticing that you’re really doing a great job. You’re working out really well.’” That’s all. He didn’t want to dump an assignment on you. He didn’t want to – that’s all just, “I really value you being on my team.” Oh my god. Who wouldn’t share that with their spouse, with their family?

Brandon Laws: Exactly. You had another example I love in the – in one of your case studies, you said like managers or even senior leaders could like send a letter to the employee’s family, letting their loved ones know why their – this employee is so important to the company’s mission.

I thought of it. I said like, “Wow! This is a free thing that you could do.” Like that would be so rewarding to go home and talk about that with your loved ones at home.

Dr. Bob Nelson: I’ve had – yeah, it gives some deviations. This is the thing. You have a good idea that you get deviations on it. I worked for the hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan where they gave managers notes where they can thank people and then they got creative with that and they started sending notes home to the kids of family members that had to work late or work over the weekend or something and the include some coupons to take your folks out for ice cream on us.

Just having, you know, just a fun thing or I’ve had several managers where they actually set it up as an incentive. Incentive is telling someone on the front end what you could do for them at the back end if they achieve a goal. So, they have a project goal.

Hey, one manager said – I said, “Just out of the blue, it just struck me.” I said, “Whoever makes their goals on this, I’m going to call your mom and tell them what a great job you’re doing.”

Brandon Laws: Oh, that’s great.

Dr. Bob Nelson: Everyone laughed. But he held to it. He said, “Give me your mom’s number,” and, you know, that made the mom’s day and then. It’s just a fun thing.

Brandon Laws: Yeah.

Dr. Bob Nelson: It’s a fun thing and tapping into that kind of things, recognition is all around us every day. So just open your eyes to it and that’s again the – my desire on doing the “1001 ways” book is to open people’s eyes to the potential all around them all the time.

If you could see what’s there, you could see what has been there all the time. But you see it in a new light. You could tap into it and that’s very powerful to help someone take the wool off of their eyes or whatever, and let them see that this really could have value for you.

That sounds as – it’s very simple. Usually I find – I mean you could spend money on recognition and have a great celebration and – but companies that do stuff, they tend to – like one of the examples I have in the book, this CEO wrote me and said, you know, I do this – we do morale stuff once or twice a year, whatever. We do something for employees. I come up with something and no one ever really seemed to like it. They really didn’t seem to have fun. I’m spending a lot of money. What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, when he thought about it, he goes – he’s doing things he wants to do. He didn’t take time to find out what they want to do. He scheduled them when he had time. He didn’t consider that they got families. They got stuff going. So, he had another – the same results. So finally, at least, God bless them, they kept trying. They said, “Let’s do something different.” They went to a millennial and they said, “Hey, I want to see if you would be interested doing this.” I would love to do that! And they came up with a very creative list and they used high-tech technology to survey people and to see what they want and they even scheduled an event. People loved it.

They did something that people really wanted to do instead of something that the boss wants to do. It was a great success and then they enjoyed doing it too. It gave them visibility and one of the characters is a millennial, and they’re more group-oriented. So, it came naturally to them. So, sometimes your best intentions are going to cut it. You’ve got to really find an approach that will work better than what’s not working for you now.

So many companies now, they’re very good about what’s not working and engagement is again the mother lode because everyone wants more engaged employees. But the things they’re doing aren’t making it happen. So, I’m going, “Open your eyes. Here’s a whole book of things, each one of which will improve engagement,” whether it’s one employee or department or the whole company. Get a critical mass of these things. You’ve got like –

Brandon Laws: The bulk of the book covers 10 areas of employee engagement. You just talked about recognition as being that top piece. Chapter two covers career development which is that second tier for employee engagement. You said something –

Dr. Bob Nelson: Second most important.

Brandon Laws: Yeah, and I caught something that I thought was really interesting. You said every employee is ultimately responsible for his or her growth and career path and I kind of looked at that and I thought, “Wow, most people, I don’t think they quite understand that,” and they look to their company to develop them versus them taking a really partner approach to it. What are a couple of your favorite career development strategies that you have uncovered from the research and just kind of going –?

Dr. Bob Nelson: To amplify that, 90 percent of all development is self-development.

Brandon Laws: Wow.

Dr. Bob Nelson: So, it has to be what you do differently. So again, we tend to – a traditional company tends to think of well, development, that’s going to be a class training and we do X number of them and you get to go once a year and we’re done. Or maybe take out all the stops and we do tuition assistance. So, you take a class, get an A and we will split the cost with you and we’re done. That’s not even scratching the surface. Most development occurs on the job you’re doing now, not in the classroom. So, have a discussion. In fact, have this discussion the first time you talk to someone after they started. Take them out for coffee or lunch and get to know them and say, “You know, why did you come here? There are a lot of places you could work in town. What was it about this company that attracted you? What do you hope to learn while you’re with us? Where do you want to be five years from now? What excites you?”

Have that first conversation. Don’t wait until they’ve been there for 10 years or they’re ready to quit. First conversation and the more you learn, the more fodder you have to motivate them, not to trick and manipulate them to work harder, but to truly align their interest with those of the organization. That’s another great definition of entitlement is alignment of personal aspirations with strategic organizational goals. The closer we can do that the more excited people are going to be. Now, they’re not working for you. They’re working for them and so career development is – it could be as simple as giving someone Audible, $15. The first book you get free, an online book.

You got to communicate. Yeah, I thought maybe you would like to listen to books on tape while you’re – yeah, we will start you off here.

Brandon Laws: I love that. That’s a good one.

Dr. Bob Nelson: And $15 here, you know – you know, you’ve been with us for a while. You’re – I think you have a great future. If you want, we want to assign you a personal coach, a professional coach for three months to help you. Really? Yeah, really to help you with your goals and whatever is important to you. To better manage your time, better work-life balance. You work out those goals with the coach we assign you. Yeah, that’s a wonderful idea or the chance to attend a conference of your choice. You always send the same people to the same conferences to the point where they’re bored with them. They actually hate going. They hate being away.

Send the person that has never been – they would absorb everything. Have them come back and share what they learned. The company is going to save a lot of money instead of sending the same people to the same conferences that they’re burned out on, etc, etc, etc. What tasks – I remember my first manager I had, he gave me an assignment to do and he prefaced it. He says, “You know Bob, I could do this assignment much easier than you. I’ve been doing this for years. But I thought there would be some learnings here for you. So, I wanted to see if you would be willing to take on this assignment.” He gave me a choice. Because I know you’re pretty busy and all that stuff you’re doing is pretty important.

So, if this isn’t a good time, I’m not going to hold it against you. But if you’re willing to take on this responsibility, this task, there’s not going to be a thing such as a silly question. I’m going to help you any way I can. The fact of the matter, it will probably take you a little longer than if I did it myself. But that’s time I’m willing to invest in you based on what I’ve seen with you in working for me and for our organization. So, think it over.

I didn’t have to think it over. Thank you. I would love to do that assignment. What a great opportunity to shine. For any person, you get the rote and mundane parts of your job done more quickly to be able to take on that special assignment where you’ve got – you know, learning something new, access to other people, visibility in the organization. There’s a lot packed into just an interesting assignment or you get someone to a place where you say, “You know what we’re trying to do here. Where do you think you can make the biggest contribution? What do you want to do next?”

Wow! I worked for a company for 10 years and the reason that I was there for so long is that I had five different jobs. Everyone I created because they would do that. They said, “Bob, you see what we’re trying to do.” I said, “Well, I really figured it would be helpful if the company did this. I would like to take that on.”

Brandon Laws: Yeah.

Dr. Bob Nelson: Great! Go for it. Yeah. Five times, five different jobs and each one that – you know, more responsibility and it was great. It was wonderful. It makes it hard to leave.

Brandon Laws: You had an example from a company called Juniper Networks where they created – I think they were having attrition problems and they did some exit interviews and realized there’s just not a lot of career development. So, they end up coming up with an idea to do two tracks, one for management and one for professional. I thought that was a really good example. Have you seen a lot of companies doing something like that, where they actually have a career development program in place for a professional track, or a management track? I mean that’s really fascinating to me.

Dr. Bob Nelson: A lot of tech companies do that because how it works in technology, if you’re like a software engineer, to be promoted at some point, you’ve got to become a manager.

Brandon Laws: Yeah.

Dr. Bob Nelson: Because that means we’re going to make you do something that you don’t want to do, that you’re not good at and that’s manage people. You hate doing it. You just want to code. You just want to code and you could take on – you’re very good at it and you take on better and better skills and challenges and troubleshooting. But you don’t want to manage someone and deal with their personalities. That’s common for a lot of tech people yet well, if you want to grow in the company, if you want to earn more money, you got to be a manager.

It’s like oh, great. So, let me do that until I hate my job and then I miss the technology parts. So, if someone is doing that who’s working for me, I’m going to be half in their job, helping them do it instead of leaving them do it themselves. The whole thing is a disaster.

So, a lot of tech companies have figured out these two parallel tracks. So, you can actually advance and just remain the technical person, become a lead, become a principal, become even an executive, an expert at the technology. We will leave the managing people to other people that better enjoy that or are better at it. So that’s again a very – I’ve seen a lot of tech companies do that.

Brandon Laws: Love it. So, this book is just packed with a ton of great ideas and we got to wrap up. But I wanted to just kind of end with this. When a company needs to engage employees, they’re having some problems with that. I’m assuming that they could use this book and they don’t need to implement all 1001 ways to engage their employees. But how do you recommend people use this book? Can they flip through, take a couple of ideas from each chapter? How do you recommend just getting started with some of these tactics? Because you have so many good ideas in this book.

Dr. Bob Nelson: Well, it’s a type of book where you can jump around and so I like that. My wife said I write the type of books that I like to read where you could dip into it, wherever it’s useful. I mentioned you could share it with people. This management is what you do with people, not to them. So, you can say, “Hey, I got some great ideas. I want to see if anyone else …”

You know, it’s passed around the group. Have people initial ideas they like. I had an HR manager tell me that – I was working with them and they pulled out one of my books. He said, “I got this years ago and I wrote my name on the front in colored ink and I circled three ideas in the book that I was committed to doing. I passed it on to another manager to do the same thing.”

He showed me this book. It had hundreds of names in the front of it. Each manager was making a public testament to what they’re going to try and do differently. So, there are lots of ways to break the ice and get into it. But the more you can – my hope is that it’s a conversation starter, that people say, “Hey, I looked at that book you had and it had something about – just pick any chapter here about better communications,” which of course we all could use more of. Why don’t we do this? We had an idea board that we can just post a question. Anyone else can answer it. Why don’t we try that?

Worse comes to worst, you try it and no one does anything. Yeah, you find something else to do. But maybe you get people writing up their responses. All of a sudden you solve a problem without even having a discussion.

So, lots of ways that we can – why don’t we do – talk about town talks? I’ve heard about that before. Why don’t we do that with someone from the executive team? Why don’t we invite them to our department meeting? And just listen and at the end of that, we will take a few questions from us. Wow. Just showing up is going to show that they care and we’re important to them. That’s going to go a long, long way, and trust and respect and we’re in it together. So, it’s the power of any idea. Find the ones that work for you.

Brandon Laws: Dr. Bob, where can people find the book and learn more about you and what you’re up to?

Dr. Bob Nelson: Well, wherever fine books are sold. So, whether it’s your favorite local bookstore or Amazon or of course my website, we carry all my books at discount prices. I get a better price from the publisher and that’s We have an online store. But do that and I love hearing when people have gotten a useful idea, something they’ve used. I love hearing the stories. A lot of times, with the book I mentioned on the 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, the 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, the 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work, etc, etc. I have people contact me and say, “Hey, you mentioned our company. We do that but we do a lot of other stuff.” I go, “Lay it on me and I will put it in the next frame.”

So, it’s like we try to get the word out. So, if you’ve got other good ideas, please share those and I always give people credit. All the examples are 100 percent positive. So, I’m not knocking down – you know, and a general rule of thumb, you want to praise publicly, recommend privately. I do that in all my writings. Positive examples amplified. Negative ones, maybe I will – if I mention one, I will never use the company’s name. I will say a Midwest manufacturing firm did such and such.

So yeah, it’s like a muscle. The more you use it, the better you get at it and to reach every manager, every leader in your organization.

Brandon Laws: Dr. Bob Nelson, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. We really appreciate it. You’ve got great ideas, an awesome book and I encourage people to go get this. So, thank you.

Dr. Bob Nelson: Brandon, thank you. You’re a great interviewer.

Brandon Laws

As Director of Marketing, Brandon Laws leads all marketing efforts for Xenium, providing oversight on all marketing campaigns, digital marketing strategy, events, sponsorships and public relations. Brandon brings a positive energy to every aspect of his role at Xenium—from internal initiatives around culture and wellness to industry thought leadership through the Xenium podcast and other social efforts. Active within the HR community, he currently volunteers on the board of the Portland Human Resource Management Association as the Director of Marketing & PR.

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