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Motivating beyond stick and carrot

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By Nelly Favis-Villafuerte

Nelly Favis-Villafuerte

Nelly Favis-Villafuerte

Many export managers are now realizing that they cannot depend mainly on the so-called reward and punishment to inspire their personnel/staff/workers to maximize their performance. Stated otherwise, motivating people goes beyond “stick and carrot.”

Many studies as well as true-to-life stories have been shown that “reward” or the “carrot” has limited effectivity. In the same way that “the stick” or “punishment” many times weakens or to use a stronger word – deadens motivation. In short, too many carrots and too many sticks may do more damages than good. This too applies in parenting. Too much “carrots” given to children may spoil them. While too much “stick” may lead to a rebellious spirit or a depressed disposition.

The challenge to managers is to balance the use of the “stick and carrots” or to use the more common phrase “reward and punishment.”

I know many small exporting firms that have survive crisis after crisis. In fact these small exporting firms, all based in the countryside have surprisingly been successful and have managed to survive – despite the fact that there are competitors who have bigger operations, bigger capital, bigger markets, and bigger workforce.

One suggestion that export managers should remember is that punishment (like reprimand) should be given only in private while appreciation/commendation should preferably be given in the presence of others. Indeed, psychological tools (not just monetary reward) should be considered to motivate people.

I found out that one common secret of these small exporting firms is that the owners/managers go out of their way to take good care of their people mainly because of their management practice of giving recognition, verbal commendation, appreciation, praise and having frequent get-together with the employees. Thus motivating the people and developing their loyalty for the companies where they work.

One of the deepest cravings of human beings is the need to feel appreciated and to feel important. Fortunately, there are many people who refuse to see the bad in anyone. There are a number of biographies and autobiographies of great people of various nationalities where it is mentioned how somebody the great people knew influenced their lives by giving a word of encouragement, assuring them, stimulating them, and inspiring them to make the best possible use of their potential abilities. And the great people lived up to the compliments and encouragement that they received.

In our daily life, we see many people struggling to accomplish weird, unusual, and dangerous things just to be noticed. Just to be praised. Just to be recognized. Let me share with you a story that I once read where a television newscaster saw a man dressed-up in a stupid-looking red Spiderman suit. And the story goes: “The man had placed suction cups on his hands and feet to climb the side of one of the tallest buildings in the world. He climbed 125 stories. When he came over the top, there was thunderous applause, as well as police and reporters waiting for him. They asked, “Why in the world would you risk your life climbing this tall building?” He thought for a moment and responded, “I love to hear the applause.”

Life is so short. Sometimes, dreary for the people around us. If we want to make the existence of others more pleasurable; if we want our workers to be more productive; if we want to enjoy our blessings that we are enjoying – let’s be profuse and sincere in our appreciation and commendation.

Be joyful always!

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