The "carrot and stick" approach is an idiom that refers to a policy of offering a combination of rewards and punishment to induce behaviour. It is named in reference to a cart driver dangling a carrot in front of a mule and holding a stick behind it.
A slightly outdated phrase now, a phrase which the majority of my colleagues hadn’t heard of for some time…The carrot or the stick?
The "carrot and stick" approach is an idiom that refers to a policy of offering a combination of rewards and punishment to induce behaviour. It is named in reference to a cart driver dangling a carrot in front of a mule and holding a stick behind it. In the work place which method works for you if you were that mule, or is it as simple as that? Do you like being encouraged and motivated by rewards and targets?Do you like being encouraged and motivated by rewards and targets for the work that you complete or excel in, or do you work best when your manager is holding a metaphorical stick behind you, critising you and honing in on the targets you didn’t hit? Is it a mixture of the two?
When we were growing up, the carrot and the stick was a prevalent idiom and there was a clear separation between the two. Parents and teachers would offer us rewards for working hard at school and getting good grades. These rewards could be extra time with your friends, sweet treats or even money. On the other hand though, if you didn’t get good grades or if you messed around at school, you’d face groundings or after school detentions. It’s definitely not as clear cut in the work place, especially in recruitment, as consultants really do need to find that self-motivation.
Managers now have to figure out what motivates people so they can offer that carrot and push them forwards. Right Management Consultants conducted a survey sometime back and found 83% of about 500 that workers surveyed were motivated by “challenges at work”. That carrot has significantly developed and grown in size; it now takes the form of promotions, pay rises, title changes, extra leave, etc. for doing well, meeting targets and working hard. That metaphorical ‘stick’ has very much diminished in size. If it is regularly used on everyone in the same way, the manager or leader hasn’t taken the time to work out what motivates each individual and most people won’t tend to respond positively.83% of 500 workers surveyed stated they were motivated by “challenges at work”.
That’s not to say that some people like the constant punishment or nagging to achieve those KPIs. Some people only work well under that constant pressure. We most commonly see the stick approach used though as a very last resort for unresponsive team members, those who aren’t being motivated by rewards or challenges. Science shows that if you reward something you don’t always get more of it and if you punish something you don’t necessarily get less of it. It’s about finding the happy medium and that balance to manage your team on a daily basis.
Jobs nowadays have developed over time and are now more complex than ever. The jobs are more demanding of self-motivation so the carrot and stick approach has become less prevalent and almost unstuck altogether; the carrot if anything, has taken over. Therefore team members and especially leaders must be attentive, cognizant, and up to date on motivation techniques to make the most of their team and activity levels.