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And carry a big carrot
“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
“Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”
“The carrot-and-stick approach.”
We have a lot of sayings that deal with persuasion through reinforcement and punishment. As leaders, persuading people is a big part of our role. It should come as no surprise that positive reinforcement works better than punishment—the carrot is better than the stick.
The “carrots” we can offer include praise, promotions, perks, and financial rewards (raises and bonuses). Praise is free—use it sincerely and often. Use the others as needed or as appropriate.
Yes, we also need to carry a “big stick.” But its use should be rare. I recommend explaining when you would need to bring the negatives, and then calmly and consistently instituting the negatives if the situation you warned against occurs. “If you can’t do this work correctly and by the deadline, we’re going to have to let you go.” “If we have to redo this, you won’t be getting a bonus this year.” “If you break the equipment doing that thing we told you not to do with it, the replacement cost will come out of your paycheck.”
With my kids, we have had a chore chart for about a decade. It lists the chores they have selected under each of their names, along with a frequency (once-per-week, twice-per-week, daily), and the dollar value of each chore. If the kid does the chore, s/he gets the dollar value each week. If the kid does not do the chore, THEY OWE ME half the dollar value for that week. If they don’t do the chore multiple times, I can take it away and offer it to one of their siblings.
This works SO WELL. I almost never have to deduct money or reallocate a chore—I almost never need to bring out the “big stick.” It’s also a great model for understanding and working with human nature. Chores are not assigned; the kids CHOOSE which ones they want. Undesirable chores pay better. My kids can buy anything they want with their own money, but they also pay for their own luxuries—cell phones, video games, desserts in restaurants, etc.
As leaders, we can assign tasks, or we can ask people to take them on. “Hey Bob, I’ve got something on this project that I think you’d be great at. Can I ask you to please do this thing and get me a draft by Friday?” Bob still knows you are assigning it to him, but he feels more respected and valued.
Honey, not vinegar.