A recently published book titled The Carrot Principle, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, provides new recommendations for managers based on a 10-year study of 200,000 managers and employees. The study states that top managers — as measured by performance of their firms on return on equity, return on assets and operating margin — rely more heavily on the use of recognition to engage their people, retain talent and accelerate performance.
Gostick and Elton have a great section of their book titled “Carrotphobia,” where they elaborate on why some managers do not put forth the time and effort to recognize employees. We thought a couple of these managers’ reasons and the authors’ responses were worth highlighting:
- Reason No. 1: “Why would I recognize them? Aren’t they just doing their jobs?”
The authors counter that recognition gives employees that extra push they need to do their jobs even better.
- Reason No. 2: “They already get too much recognition.”
Elton and Gostick characterize high performers as “recognition sponges.” They warn that you should not stop praising these employees ... or they just might stop doing what you value!
- Reason No. 3: “I don’t want to play favorites.”
The authors counter this with the observation that when you start recognizing performance frequently, you will find it easy and nobody feels left out — and it motivates others to seek similar recognition.
- Reason No. 4: “They’ll expect more recognition.”
Yes they will say the authors — and when recognition is provided regularly, employees stick around for seconds and thirds — turning out even better results. And, they ask — this is a problem (not)? They sum this chapter up with a quote from a senior business manager: “To be effective, individual recognition should be frequent, specific, timely and public.”
Frequent, specific and timely
Gostick and Elton found in both their North American and global data that effective recognition is frequent, specific and timely. Their survey showed that these factors were most key: Recognition must be aligned; it is given frequently to those who are acting in accordance with the clearly articulated goals of their business. Secondly, they found that recognition is best when it is performance based — meaning it is based on specific goals that everyone understands (not favoritism). Finally, they found that recognition needs to be meaningful — awards and/or kudos are presented in a timely manner. This means they are given close to the date of accomplishment and are given in a sincere public ceremony.
How much to spend ... and on what?
We hope that you buy into the concept of recognizing and rewarding your employees. The "carrot principle" provides some tools you might utilize to implement a recognition program in your feed or grain business:
1. Levels of Recognition
a) Day-to-day awards, such as handwritten notes or verbal praise, for small steps toward living the company’s values;
b) One-time above-and-beyond awards for actions which makes your firm more successful, i.e., gift certificates;
c) Ongoing above-and-beyond demonstration of your firm’s values; or an action, project or behavior that has a significant impact on your bottom line. Award examples include: a weekend getaway package or perhaps large personal item that can be used with the employee’s family — gas grill, ping-pong table, etc.
2. How much to spend?
Gostick and Elton suggest that a place to start for recognition is to spend about 2% of payroll. Regarding awards, rewards and recognition, The Carrot Principle has a super list of 125 ideas that managers can use for praise and recognition.
Awards don’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful.
If you enjoyed this article, keep an eye out for their exploration of these management principles in the Manageer's Notebook section of Feed & Grain's April/May edition.