Is a Carrot and a Stick the Best Way to Motivate Employees

Is a Carrot and a Stick the Best Way to Motivate Employees?

I’ve often thought that in order to motivate employees into doing the behavior you want, the most effective way to do that is by hanging a giant carrot from a stick and say, “go for it!” However, after quite a bit of research, I am learning that is not always the case. 

According to Daniel Pink and his mass amounts of social studies, a carrot and a stick works for people who push a button or turn a crank. But for people whose jobs require even a little critical thinking, a carrot and a stick not only doesn’t work but it can even impair success.

So, what does motivate people when they have to use critical thought?  According to Daniel Pink, it is Autonomy (the ability to do a job when and how they like to do it), Mastery (the ability to learn how to do a job and do it well), and Purpose (Does this align with my values and what I believe in?). 

So, what does this mean?  It means that people like the ability and freedom to explore ideas and find out the best ways to do it and to also do the job when they have the most energy.  They enjoy exploring those ideas and becoming the best at it and they enjoy working for a company that is bigger than itself.  They enjoy a company that is bigger than their own ego.  So, my question for you is, do you have a lot of turnover?  Are your employees enjoying coming to work?  Is your company growing beyond its owners?  Are your employees finding better and more efficient ways of doing a job?  Are they experts at what they do?

Jaime White

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