The idea of using a stick and a carrot as motivators is an ancient one.
|From The MRA Newsletter|
By John Loven, MRA
|"Part of a manager's job is to motivate everyone, at all times,
and using every possible technique or approach available...Because of all
the different and varying elements in motivation, this is not a simple or
easy task. The main reason for this difficulty is that all people are
different, hence what might motivate one person does not necessarily work
for another person."
- Pam Phelps, UEC
It dates back to the days of donkey carts when the stubborn beast might go for
the carrot or away from the prod. It was a regular gag in the earliest animated
cartoon technique all the time".
But let's ask a question: What if you need to motivate termites? Then you've
got it all backwards! The hungry little bugs will swarm toward the stick for
a wooden munch. I don't know how termites feel about carrots, but the stick
would be the main attraction. Sure, it's a silly example, but the problem is
a serious one. What motivates people? Do you know what constitutes a genuinely
desired reward for another person? "Money" someone says, but this is a
practical article about the real world. Hardly anybody has money to throw
at every employee. So you've got to find out what a carrot looks like to
every Tom, Dick and Harriet if you want to gain the maximum motivation.
Beyond the unaffordable raise, the next most popular carrot is personal
recognition: the gold watch, the speech, the certificate.
Let's look at two of the four behavioral traits
It is a costly mistake to get lost in the false theory that more money equals
- Dave Worman, "Dr. Motivation"
profiling measures and see what "valued recognition" might look like to
What does all this mean to a manager?
Some individuals like to take the social initiative with strangers. They like to
talk with others and experience personal success through the success of the group.
They have many acquaintances and bond quickly with others. When a challenge arises
they want to circle the wagons, get the group together, and work out a solution.
Other people form close relationships with others one at a time, and generally work
best with others in one-on-one situations. They are not comfortable taking the
initiative with strangers and, when a challenge arises, they would prefer to go
off alone, close the door, and think it through.
MRA profiling objectively measures this trait: the individual's
relationship to groups and individuals. Part of an MRA profile is a rating for
"Sociability". Persons with a high Sociability fall into the first
those with a low Sociability rating are found in the second group.
When a challenge arises some people rush out to meet it. They like to have -
and use - authority. They want to be the first to the finish line and they will
take risks to win the race.
Others generally look for non-confrontational solutions, manage risk thoughtfully,
and would prefer to have someone else set the goals.
This trait, Ascendancy, is measured in an MRA Profile.
The first group, the competition-driven people, rank high in Ascendancy and the second
group ranks low.
Suppose you want to reward Jane for making the new sales initiative a success.
Do you do it in front of the whole department or in your office? Do you laud
Jane's participation in the departmental success or do you focus on Jane's
individual skills and contribution? Do you praise her at the staff meeting
or do you ask individuals to stop by her cube and thank her individually?
If you've got $300 in the budget for perks, do you spend it to take Jane's
department out for lunch in her honor, or do you give Jane a $300 gift certificate?
The question really is, "What does Jane want?"
On just the two scales discussed above, Ascendancy (A) and
Sociability(S), Jane may fall into one of four brackets;
High A, High S
Jane is goal driven, a leader, and wants the team to win. Presenting the
gift certificate in front of the office crowd would be a winner. Jane also
wants more challenges and a chance to innovate and lead the way for everyone.
If possible, give her those opportunities.
High A, Low S
Jane is goal driven, and wants individual achievement though personal skill.
The gift certificate presented by the highest ranking manager available signals
that individual worth. Challenge her to do more and better and give her as much
individual control over circumstances as you can.
Low A, High S
Jane is team driven. Taking the department out to lunch to honor her lets
her experience her value in the group and share her reward with the team. Personal
expressions of appreciation should be maximized. Give Jane more opportunity to
influence others and put her "on stage" whenever you can.
Low A, Low S
Jane is methodical, accurate and likes to specialize in a defined discipline.
Combine individual recognition and group recognition. Urging individuals to express
their thanks as well as kind words in front of the department will motivate her.
The gift certificate signals that her loyalty and dependability has paid off. Provide
her with job situations where her drive to cover all the bases systematically can
Nuance is Nice
These are all nuanced deliveries of appreciation using the same resources. But to
Jane, the value of the recognition is very much magnified if the reward is modeled
after her particular vision of a motivational carrot. MRA Profiling gives
managers the insight to be better motivators.
When all four behavioral Traits measured by MRA Profiling are
combined, an even better picture of how to motivate each employee appears. The
Management Report on an individual profile explicitly lists the factors that
drive, stimulate and motivate each person based on highly individual analysis.
The reports are written in plain business terms, without psychobabble or HR
jargon. They are designed strictly as decision support recommendations to
managers or team leaders.
Questions or Comments? Send us an email.