3 Tips to Help You Move Beyond the Carrot and the Stick

Posted on July 9th, 2012

Incentive schemes, that control and reward, have a major flaw – they tend only to motivate the already motivated. There’s a far more powerful mechanism you can bring into play- the ability to inspire.


As Harvard Professor John Kotter puts it. “Inspiration energizes people, not by pushing them in the right direction as control mechanisms do, but by satisfying basic human needs, a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life and the ability to live up to one’s ideals.”


The only way to have consistent levels of service excellence is to communicate to the workforce that you believe in, value and care about them. Hammer the point home in your leadership and management training. Here are 3 tips to help you inspire your team:


1. Treat people well.


It’s common sense but not common practice – engaged staff produce engaged customers. Customer relations always begin with employee relations. The way you treat your staff affects your business more than any other variable. FedEx co-founder and leadership training specialist, Frank Maguire says, “Your staff can get the same pay, same benefits and same working conditions somewhere else. Maybe better. But what they can’t replace is their relationship with you”.


2. Give your people the chance to be creative.


People feel more inspired when they are given the opportunity to be creative. Give people freedom to make some of the decisions. Encourage collaborative problem solving. Ask the team for feedback on issues and listen closely to their responses. People enjoy tasks in the optimal-challenge zone: not too hard and not too easy.


When you delegate a task, explain WHAT you want done, WHY you want it done and BY WHEN, but let them work out the ‘HOW’. That’s the difference between good and bad delegation. What decisions could you devolve to your people?


3. Catch people doing something right


Part of every manager’s job is to highlight what is unsatisfactory and help people to fix it. But feedback must be fair. If the only news we get is bad news, we have trouble believing that any aspect of what we do is acceptable.


So catch people doing something right or almost right. It builds confidence. This is especially important when someone is new or learning a new job. As former GE, CEO Jack Welch said, “Building confidence in others is a huge part of leadership”.


You can find out more about our approach to leadership and management training.