I’m often asked by leaders if they should manage using the stick or carrot approach. The best answer is to beat employees with the carrot.
No, I’m not advocating any form of coercion or violence. I am suggesting a better system than the traditional threats and rewards that permeates global business culture.
People tend to fight more to keep what they have with loss of any kind being something they wish to avoid. So, instead of threatening people if they don’t achieve something (the stick) or dangling rewards if they do (the carrot), just give them the carrot right now. And make it their job to keep it.
For example, one of my clients has a President’s Club that 42% of team members were a part of in 2011. To earn a spot, each individual had to meet specific goals and expectations. One of the benefits of President’s Club membership is a yearly trip, with the one in 2011 going to Hawaii. This carrot approach had served the company fairly well, but no more than half of the company ever qualified.
The following year, they took my advice and beat ‘em with the carrot. At the kickoff meeting in January 2012, it was announced that everyone had already made President’s Club and that each person had to meet their expectations to keep it. That year, 78% of the team achieved their goals and went on the trip while the company increased gross profits by 55%. Turnover that year was less than 2%. As one team member, who had never made President’s Club in his eight-year tenure, put it, “There was no way I was going to lose something that valuable.”
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Start handing out some carrots and get rid of those sticks. Give everyone on your team a renewed reason to come to work each day and strive for what matters most.
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