Chris J Powell

Management Style – The Carrot and the Stick

I have always been fascinated by different Management Styles and as a Sales Professional, there is always an assumption that it is all about the money for us.  While money and compensation is an important factor in what we do, for me it is the satisfaction of helping my customer be able to do something that they either could not do before or I assisted in making it easier to do something with the product or service that I provide (or at least represent).  For managers though, I am a challenge because financial compensation is not my primary motivation and when the standard “If this, then that” concept of motivation (the classic Carrot and the Stick)…does not necessarily work on me.

That is not to say that present the right “carrot” and I am not motivated.  For me it is more about Job Satisfaction and the Freedom to “fly”.  My current role as a Business Development Executive is a perfect example of the right level of Carrot and Stick.

I put this out there more for the Sales Managers who have teams that have diversity in it and that there are likely people who no matter how big the Carrot is, or how pointy the stick…they can not be motivated.

Take a step back and really look at your employees, your colleagues and the objectives that you are trying to achieve.  In 2014 it can no longer be good enough to just put Sales Numbers on a board…it has to be about empowerment and ownership.  Good or bad, I like to know that I have been Master and Commander of my Destiny and there are many others that feel the same way…especially in the world of Sales.

In a recent article in Psychology Today: “Carrot and Stick” Motivation Revisited by New Research it is revealed that the Carrot and the Stick can work…but it will not work equally on everyone.  The world does not need more “good vibes” and “positive reinforcement”…competition is good, having consequences is good…but measure twice and cut once!

“Different players use different strategies. It all depends on their genetic material. People’s tendency to change their choice immediately after receiving a punishment depends on which serotonin gene variant they inherited from their parents. The dopamine gene variant, on the other hand, exerts influence on whether people can stop themselves making the choice that was previously rewarded, but no longer is.”

The best information that I gathered from the article and from my own life experience, is that my own success has been when I was asked “What do YOU want?” and then a plan was built to achieve that goal…as long as that goal was mutually supportive of the organization’s goal.  So yes the Carrot and the Stick can work, especially when the Carrot is tailored to the individual, and the Stick is sufficiently “motivating” and then combined with good Engagement Strategies, Learning Opportunities and the transformation of a culture that people actually WANT to succeed…then things are very powerful indeed and for all those Sales Managers out there…you become a real AGENT of CHANGE!




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