Hey Manager, stop using carrots or sticks!

Employee motivation with fake promises or fear?

How to motivate employees?

As a manager or leader of a team, there are multiple ways to motivate employees. Some are sensitive to some pressure, some need a pat on the back. Another way is motivating employees by using fear or promising things can work for the short term. However, in the long term employees get disengaged.

The stick is also known as fear, will not give you engaged and motivated employees. And as a result of this, not the best customer experience and bottom-line result. It is used in the old industrial age where employees were treated like machines. The stick sounds like: You have to do this, or else… The stick punished when targets are not met.

Carrots are just as wrong to use. Because employees will notice if you are promising things that you might not be able to deliver on. There is a big difference in motivating employees with a positive future outcome aligned with a strong focus on the process, hard work and perseverance. Versus promising promotions, bonuses or a salary increase without being sure you can deliver or without supporting the process to reach the goal. Carrots are healthy to eat, so use them for that! 

Both the carrot and the stick will disengage your employees in the long term! So stop using them! 

Employee happiness

Napoleon Hill wrote in his book Think and Grow Rich: ‘The watchword of the future will be human happiness and contentment.’ This book is dated from 1937! So it’s about time that we change our approach! 

Support your employees by developing conditions and processes for an optimal work environment where growth is key focus element. Never promise if you do this, then in 5 years you will be a manager. It’s better to promise we will provide and support you with these tools, time, training and mentoring to make sure you have everything available to grow.

Walk the talk

Practice what you preach. Walk the talk. Lead by example. Probably you know these oneliners. Do you know that they all have the same result: they increase your influence! It’s not your title, your mandate, the carrot or stick that gives you the best engagement. It’s your daily behavior, your attitude and the impact you have. If you want to change the culture, the way you work, just start doing it yourself. For example, you want to have more teamwork and supporting each other. Help someone else first and really help, also when no one is watching! Consistency and perseverance are key. Keep walking the talk. Celebrate and reward the first employees (helper and the helped employee) that follows your lead to show them how important this is to you. By also acknowledging the helped employee asking for help you create a safe environment to ask for help. 

How do you motivate your employees?

Please let me know your thoughts! We at prototyping.work share simple guidelines, practices to change the way we work. Start prototyping with these related practices:

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About the author

Arie Drost

Arie Drost

Arie is HR manager. Currently transforming his organization towards a Great Place to Work. He shares is practices.

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