We were familiar with it as we grew up and then later as we tried to teach our children the right way to behave…it was the “carrot and stick” philosophy.
This approach to child rearing was named as it refers to a cart driver who dangles a carrot in front of a mule to motivate forward progress while at the same time holding a stick behind to urge him forward if the carrot didn’t work. Basically it is a policy of combining rewards and punishment to motivate desired behavior.
All well and good. What we can’t understand is how, in the business world, leaders have lost sight of the power of the stick.Many leaders seem to believe that behavior is driven only by rewards.
However, what we have learned in our 16+ years of high performance research with elite institutions such as Harvard, the U.S. Special Forces, Cisco, Accenture, MIT, NASA, Juilliard, and the Olympic Games, is that the stick, when done right, is needed too. The pressure to perform (symbolically the stick) is a necessary component to building high performance environments. If there are fair, proportionate, timely, accurate, transparent and meaningful consequences in the mix, team members work to avoid failure and achieve success more productively than with just the carrot alone.
We take issue, for example, with an article published recently on the BBC News web site (http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35763908) that was critical of the way Amazon tried to deal with theft in their warehouses. Citing a report by Bloomberg, the article talked about Amazon’s screening of video clips that were designed to show what happens when employees are caught stealing. Not surprisingly, these employees, when caught, were fired. Some considered these videos offensive. Sure they may not be pleasant viewing but they leave no confusion about the consequences of warehouse theft. This is clearly the “stick” behind the mule.
As part of a balanced and high performance culture, we believe that the stick can be as powerful and persuasive as the carrot and that the two should be wisely used together. But we also know that performance pressure must be carefully watched and offset by other factors. If you create too much or too little performance pressure, your culture may suffer even if you have the “right” people and a “great” strategy.
Meaningful and purposeful cultures make employees proud and motivated to do their best at every task. High performers seem to do this effortlessly. But low performers need to be motivated to do their best and beyond. This is where the stick sometimes comes in. High performance cultures require that substandard performers (when given needed support) must improve relatively quickly if they wish to remain employed. This “improve with support or move on” mentality ensures that people focus on and are rewarded for pre-agreed-to performance standards.
And it keeps high performers motivated too. They are the ones who get discouraged if there are no consequences for low productivity on the job. They are apt to wonder the value associated with striving for excellence if the leaders don’t seem to notice or care when others slack off.
While we certainly believe that intrinsic motivation and positive reinforcement is a critical component to a high performance workplace, we also know that the highest performing organizations create an organizational culture with very clear performance standards and consequences for failing to meet minimal expectations.
We recently contacted LSA Global to assist us with a unique training request. We gave LSA a very short deadline and LSA custom designed a training program to meet our exact requirements within the limited time allotted to them. We found their facilitator to be well versed in the subject matter and very credible; the design provided practical and valuable information to our team of managers. I highly recommend LSA Global, particularly in the area of management training.
Julaine K. Souza
Senior Vice President
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VP Human Resources
Working with LSA Global has proven to be extremely valuable and worthwhile. LSA understands our business, has deep expertise in content areas, and tailors the programs to deliver great results. The facilitator was extremely knowledgeable about Working Globally with India and her energy and passion made the session interesting, fun, and enjoyable for all that attended. The participants walked away extremely pleased along with highly useful practices and tools. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company that has partners or offices in India.
Human Resources Business Partner
On behalf of Roche and my staff I would like to sincerely thank you for your help with this. The English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment and coaching that you provided for our team was a great success.
LSA Global’s consultant brought a fresh perspective to our behavioral based interviewing strategy for two key executive positions we needed to fill, and their consultant helped us develop questions that produced a much deeper understanding of candidates’ capabilities. I am confident that the two new executives joining our organization have the right skills to add significant value. Throughout the process LSA was also very responsive in dealing with short lead time requests.
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SPO Partners & Co
Kim Silva, CFO
We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.
Director of Global Recruiting
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Global Financial Services Company
Director, Organizational Effectiveness
We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR
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The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.
Vice President, Information Technology
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Learning & Development
We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.
Director of Human Resources
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Director, HR Business Partner
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Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region
We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.
Vice President Human Resources
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