A Carrot or a Stick - Which Would You Pick?
In history, much before the introduction of organizational behavior, superiors were influencing their subordinates applying different methods to navigate the working process. The oldest technique used to motivate the others is known today as the Carrot and stick method. There are two fundamental axes of control-reward and punishment. Carrot and stick approach, as a part of motivational theory, in its’ basic nature provides a combination of the both to induce behavior. This metaphorical name comes from the situation in which a cart driver is dangling a carrot in front of a mule to make it want to go and holding a stick behind it to force it go.
Today all organizations are faced with the question how to motivate the employees to perform better. There are different ways- through tangible or intangible incentives or punishment, but no one best answer. Motives differ from situation to situation and from person to person.
When an immediate action is required the Stick approach is appropriate - the motivator is fear of unpleasant consequence. If all other measures are unsuccessful, fear is an effective tool to bring results. In Malaysian management and organizational system it has been widely used as a ‘convenient’ choice. However, this method can only be implemented for a short-term, as it will lead to stress and discontent in the working environment when used for a continuous period of time.
A more productive long-term motivational model can be the Carrot approach. Through appraisals and encouragement in the common practice people are more willing to strive for better outcome and improvement. In the older theories money were seen as the number one motivator to work harder, followed by the tangible rewards like gifts, coupons, bonds. Nowadays, organizations realize that there are other factors as well, besides of the material ones, leading employees to contribute more - like a positive feedback or a friendly workplace. A fact is that world billionaires like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, in spite of their fortune, are examples of people highly dedicated to their work.
Professor Etsu Inaba of the Asian Institute of Management conducted a survey researching middle managers from well-organized Asian companies in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. The salaries of the managers were a little higher than the average for the industry and they had the choice to join the competitors' companies that were offering to pay from 30 up to 50% more. To the question ‘What would make you stay with the company you are working for now?” their responds were:
Clear growth potential for the company
A career development plan for employees
Professionalism in management
Therefore, there are more stimuli to be considered important than just the external factors like money. Another survey confirms this thesis. It has been carried out by Towers Perrin- New York based consulting company. The respondents were asked "What is the biggest long-term motivator for you?" and their answers in ranking were the following:
1. Working for a leader with vision and values.
2. Pay raises and bonuses.
3. Being given greater responsibility.
4. Developing the respect of subordinates and peers.
5. Being given recognition from supervisors and managers.
It can be concluded that companies which would like to motivate their staff to be more productive and likewise to create a happy working atmosphere should balance their influence between material and non-material rewards and punishment if that is necessary. It is wise to keep in mind that while some tangible incentives will lose value with time, internal stimuli like a praise and recognition can permanently affect workers to maintain and even increase their contribution.