After elementary school, I attended a short business course where I learnt about the ‘Carrot and Stick Approach’. This is an idiom referring to the policy of giving both rewards and punishments to influence or induce behavior and, therefore, performance (Pink, 2009). If a cart driver dangles a carrot with a stick behind in front of a mule, the mule will move towards the carrot because it wants the food reward, while also moving away from the stick because it does not want the punishment of pain. This way it draws the cart. Reading this chapter made me understand this theory more.
That a motivated employee will give their best in whatever task they have been assigned is a fact one cannot afford to dispute. It is such motivation that would make employees willing to be vulnerable to authority based on positive expectations as regards its intentions and actions. That fundamentally defines trust, and where it exists high levels of task performance are observed.
Sometime back I was blessed with the opportunity to work in a retail outlet, in Los Angeles. Besides dealing in basic household commodities, mobile banking services were also offered. Prior to my placement at the outlet, the owner was so strict on his three employees. He was the ever-present authoritative supervisor who gave no room for mistakes. He had directed that the sales record book be placed at his desk near the counter, and he had this habit of perusing through it all the time. Whenever a sale was made, he would always be closely watching just to make sure it was entered therein. No one was allowed to leave the shop without being frisked, lest they make away with easily portable items or cash. The employees, one of whom I later replaced felt they were never trusted. I learnt this over coffee with one of them, much later. She told me how this made them dull most of the time, something that had an impact even on the customers. Consequently, sales declined.
It was not a surprise that he fired one of them to ‘save’ his business. Underperformance and suspicion of theft were his reasons. I did not want to follow the same path so one day I sought an audience with him and clearly explained to him the importance of him changing his attitude. He had to understand we were morally conscious beings that our actions at work were bound by universally known work ethics. In as much as he had every right to be cautious and maximize returns from his business, he had to be mindful of what his employees felt for they were part and parcel of it.
He responded positively and the effects of such were soon noticeable. He gave us more responsibilities and could come only once a week to the premises, just to see how we were fairing on. He promised to increase our pay by twenty percent every six months. This was enough incentive to make anyone trustworthy. Who would want to steal with such an offer? He was even remorseful concerning the way he had dismissed his former employee. He should have done better to motivate them to give their best. Even before dismissal he should have had evidence, or at least given him a chance to defend himself. How comes he could do this if he did not understand the role of distributive and procedural justice? However, he later learnt to appreciate these, and promised he would involve us in making major decisions in the business. The changes helped the business grow tremendously.
My work experience at the retail informs my decision to entirely agree with the concepts highlighted in the chapter. My former boss learnt to trust us on grounds that we had the ability to carry out our duties and that we were integral in both character and general actions. We too learnt to appreciate any decisions that he made, bearing in mind that he had our interests at heart, not just for the sake of his business as regards profits.
In conclusion, the concepts in this chapter give much insight to what any organization needs to do to increase performance and therefore shine. I aim at being a successful entrepreneur in the future. I know they will come in handy.
Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.