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.
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Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.
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I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.
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What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.
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In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.
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We engaged LSA to design and deliver a 6-month custom executive coaching program for a group of our key leaders. The focus of the program was to help a core group of senior leaders to leverage previous investments in management training, to ensure the engagement and retention of key employees, and to push critical strategic initiatives forward. Even with the high expectations of our senior people, LSA has completely exceeded our expectations. I would recommend them to anyone looking to create and implement a custom coaching methodology using proven tools to drive true change.
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LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.
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We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.
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I’ve partnered with LSA Global at two companies now, and I consider them a valuable and trusted training and consulting resource. They recommended just the right solution to address our management development needs and have wonderful facilitators that match YuMe’s culture and style of our management team. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions with a valuable learning and development partner.
LSA’s consultant designed and delivered a half-day team building solution for our recent conference. It included careful customization to integrate the design with our new mission and values. Everyone had fun and identified key issues with our teamwork. Altogether a great program!
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