Rewards make happy employees
January 31, 2007
For a decade, Adrian Gostick has been studying the art of management and he’s observed bosses who aren’t efficient at motivating their employees.
"Most managers, I’m afraid to say, haven’t been trained as motivation managers," Gostick said.
Gostick, a long-time Oakley resident, just completed the fifth book of this subject titled, "The Carrot Principle," which was published Jan. 2.
Gostick said he based research on this book from a study involving 200,000 people across the globe.
"We got the information and captured it in a book," Gostick said. "This captures all of our thinking. You can’t argue with statistical information of that magnitude.
"Most workplace studies survey about 1,000 to 2,000 people nationally. We’ve multiplied that 2,000 times to determine what makes people motivated and engaged on the job," he added.
Recommended Stories For You
The New York Times and Fortune Magazine also featured his books in recent stories.
"This is the capstone book with all the research and case studies," Gostick said. "It’s been very well received."
For the last five years, Gostick has been traveling across the world speaking in seminars and teaching managers to use the tools he’s developed.
"We’ve spoken throughout China, Singapore, Europe and Turkey, and throughout the United States," Gostick said.
"The Carrot Principle" is based on the idea of giving employees the right awards to encourage results, as someone might lead a donkey with a tasty vegetable instead of beating it with a club.
"People want to threaten their employees rather than reward them," Gostick said. "It’s easier to lead with the carrot, rather than the stick."
Money, according to Gostick, isn’t all people want from their jobs.
"You’ve got to enjoy what you do and have external rewards," he said. "We need to reward with proof of good work. There’s not much you can do to add money, but you can add intangibles and find creative ways to motivate."
His book lists about 125 ideas to recognize employees for their accomplishments, some of them are original but many are proven methods that other managers and companies have made successful. One was from a manager from the Northeast. When his sales team reached a certain goal, he would walk into the parking lot and wash his employee’s cars.
"There are a lot of fun ways to serve people," Gostick said, "Another manager said, ‘When my guys meet a goal, I go and do their least favorite task. They love that, that’s their reward.’"
Managers, however, should be careful to be genuine with their rewards, said Gostick. Not all recognition works and employees know when a manager isn’t being honest.
"There are ways to do it badly," Gostick said.
Poor examples of recognition by managers are called "Expectors" in his book.
"They are only giving an award because they want you to work next weekend too," Gostick said.
Gostick says managers should understand that managers should work for their employees. Managers, who recognize what individual employees are motivated by, are the ones who are successful and have low turnover rates.
A good manager, Gostick said, "will recognize that one person wants to be home with their family, so the manager will reward them with more time off. Or the employee may be motivated by climbing up the corporate ladder, so, the manager will schedule personal face time with the CEO."
"Employees stayed with those types of managers," Gostick said.
Most managers, however, don’t even think about doing this kind of thing for their employers. Only a quarter of the managers in North America do this sort of thing, according to Gostick.
"Thirty-two percent of managers don’t believe this," he said. "They don’t think people need it, that its silly and it’s a waste of time.
For the last 10 years, Gostick has been working with companies to reduce turnover rates. He found similar patterns with those who suffer loss of employees.
Those that didn’t believe in rewarding employees, "had by far the most turnover rates and they couldn’t understand why," Gostick said. "On (the survey question) ‘Will you go above and beyond?’ they had the lowest score."
Gostick credits much of the fault to a lack of training. Managers start off as good workers and start to climb the ladder.
"They get promoted and nobody’s ever trained them on how you motivate people," Gostick said.
Combine that with the performance pressures and managers often forget about their unhappy employees.
"We get wrapped up in day-to-day minutia," Gostick said. "We forget that there are actually sweat and blood people that work in the maintenance area. The people, who stay, feel appreciated for what they do and are committed. Most managers need to learn how to do that."
Gostick said all people can relate to this. Everyone, he said, has been on the bottom of the ladder at least once in their work-life.
"You think back on your career, it relates to all of us," he said. "I worked late and did that amazing thing and nobody said, ‘thanks.’ When it comes up next time, you think, ‘nobody cares,’ and you don’t stay late and you don’t do that extra thing."
The study of this topic has also changed the approach Gostick has taken in his own workplace.
"I think it changed the way I manage as well," he said. "It was hard charging and I didn’t think about a lot of the people who are working for me and getting the job done."
When he started to recognize the efforts of his employees, one showed her gratitude.
"I didn’t realize that people who worked for me were really seeking that confirmation," Gostick said. "There were tears in her eyes and I thought, ‘maybe this is more important than I ever imagined.’ It’s helped me really think more about how I managed."
"The Carrot Principle" is for managers of all types, not only in the business world.
"While it’s received as a business book, teachers and parents read this book and I apply this with my family," Gostick said.
After a 14-business seminar, a client approached Gostick from the audience and said she’d been raising her kids wrong.
"There are a lot of principles that apply to business and personal lives," Gostick said. "It’s been gratifying to see others use these ideas. It’s for any manager at any level. For any person who runs projects, manages a family or classroom."
"The Carrot Principle" can be found in most bookstores. For more information on the book or seminars, go to http://www.carrots.com.