Paul Marciano is a clever guy with an impressive track record, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s a lot to love in his book. He’s an entrepreneur, consultant and speaker, as well as the president of HR consultancy Whiteboard. He’s also earned masters and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology at Yale University, as well as serving on the faculties at both Princeton University and Davidson College.
So you could say that he knows a thing or two about the way people work and what makes them tick. In this book, he distils his experience of working with and motivating people to share “the latest research on what really gets people to go the extra mile”. The full title of the book says it all – Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT™. (Check out the latest price on Amazon HERE)
Dr. Marciano puts it best himself on the inside cover, where he explains, “Reward and recognition programs can be costly and inefficient, and they primarily reward employees who are already highly engaged and productive performers. Worse still, these programs actually decrease employee motivation, because they can make individual recognition, rather than the overall success of the team, the goal.”
That’s pretty much all you need to know to see why the carrot and stick approach doesn’t work, but we’re only just getting started. Let’s jump in and take a look at what else Marciano has to teach us, as well as how we can use his acclaimed RESPECT™ model to assess, troubleshoot and resolve engagement issues in the workplace.
It’s not often that a business book starts with a Mae West quote, but this one is a worthwhile exception. “The only carrots that interest me are the number of carats in a diamond,” she said, and when it comes to the idea of using a “carrot-on-a-stick” to encourage employees, Dr. Marciano agrees.
To argue his point, he shares a brief history of human motivation, dipping into notable scientific and philosophical studies including Frederick Taylor’s 1911 essay The Principles of Scientific Management. It’s a welcome change in a world in which many business books rely too heavily on anecdotal case studies as opposed to peer-reviewed scientific research.
Dr. Marciano says that we have to change our expectations in a changing world, which brings us on to the chapter on how reward and recognition programs don’t work. “Most programs intended to motivate employees actually end up creating an overall deficit in employee motivation,” he says. “While a handful of employees may be reinforced, many are left feeling punished. Programs that do elicit short-term benefits typically end up creating significant morale problems down the road. It’s similar to retailers who advertise ‘zero down and no payments for six months.’ It sounds good now, but in the end it’s going to cost you a whole lot more.”
Still think that rewards programs are good enough to keep people motivated? Think again. Dr. Marciano doesn’t have just one reason why you should look elsewhere – he has twenty:
But if reward and recognition programs are off the table, where can we turn instead? Dr. Marciano suggests that we need to look to employee engagement, and indeed he dedicates a chapter to identifying the differences and similarities between engagement and motivation. The two are related but not identical, and a motivated employee can be disengaged and vice versa. He even provides a framework that you can use to assess employee engagement and to identify who might need help.
“Respect is the cornerstone of both our personal and professional relationships,” Marciano explains. “Without respect, relationships don’t work. As our level of respect grows for an individual, so does our level of engagement. And when we lose respect, we disengage. It is difficult, if not impossible, to feel a sense of commitment to a person, team or organisation that one disrespects.”
The good news is that his fourth chapter is dedicated entirely to understanding and gaining respect, which brings us on to the idea of the Circle of RESPECT. Based on research in the field of engagement, the Circle of RESPECT identifies five areas in which employees experience feelings of either respect or disrespect:
As for the RESPECT™ model, it’s an acronym that highlights seven critical drivers that influence an employee’s internal assessment of respect and their subsequent engagement level:
The rest of the book is dedicated to digging into the RESPECT model, with chapters on each of the seven constituents of the acronym. It starts with recognition. Marciano says, “The greatest specific benefit of recognition is its ability to replicate behaviour, that is, make it more likely to occur again. Crucially, reinforcement makes the behaviour more likely to occur again unprompted. In other words, today’s reinforcement creates tomorrow’s initiative.”
Empowering your employees consists of a lot of things. You need to give them the tools, training and resources that they need, of course, but you need to do much more than just that. You need to create a culture in which people feel empowered to try new things, to request help when they need it and to adopt new technologies early, even when it can seem counterproductive. Theodore Roosevelt put it best when he said, “The best executive is the one who has the sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
When it comes to providing supportive feedback, Dr. Marciano explains that it “arms employees with information to help focus, shape and direct their behaviour.” He also provides a self-assessment quiz that’s designed to help you to identify whether your organisation is doing a good job of things or not. There’s even a fantastic section on throwing out the dreaded performance review.
That brings us on to partnering, a concept which “transcends teamwork and implies a degree of autonomy, discretion, equality, openness, power and ownership that blurs traditional management-employee boundaries.” Marciano notes that as well as partnering with employees, we must also partner with suppliers, providers and other vendors. “When we respect people,” Marciano says, “we treat them as equals and partners. In so doing, you will dramatically increase their performance and productivity.”
Then there are expectations, and Marciano has another quiz here to help you to identify whether you’re meeting the expectations of both your employees and your customers. One of the most important things you can do here is to be specific, because being specific and providing examples of what you expect can help your employees to know exactly what they need to do. Where possible, use SMART goals: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Next up is consideration, which Marciano says is one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways to increase employee engagement. “Time and again,” Marciano says, “research participants shared stories of considerate acts by supervisors that demonstrated the impact of consideration on respect, engagement and loyalty. Among the many diverse stories, the most common theme involved a personal or family health issue.”
And finally, we’re on to the subject of trust. Marciano says that there’s been a major decline in trust during the first years of the 21st century, particularly when it comes to financial institutions, politicians and big businesses. Companies must be able to engender trust at every touchpoint, and luckily Marciano goes into great detail here with a bunch of actionable strategies that end in a range of best practices for building trust:
We’ve covered a lot of ground today, but there’s plenty more still for you to discover if you pick up a copy of this book and give it a read. Dr. Marciano shares so much information in his book that we could never cover it all here, but we hope that we’ve at least given you a good reason to give it a read.
All of the information that Marciano shares here is backed by solid scientific research and years of experience in the field, and he’s perfected the balance of giving the reader both the research and the practical applications that it can have for your business. The result is a book that’s both practical and grounded in theory, and that’s good news for everyone.
If you do pick up this book, take our advice and read it with a pen and paper so that you can take notes as you go. Be sure to jot down actions that you plan to take as well as notes on the theories and studies that underline them. Then you can revisit your notes once you’re done.
So, if you haven’t picked up a copy of Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work then think about giving it a go. It’s surprisingly gripping and simultaneously packed full of useful little titbits that will change the way you think about motivating and engaging your employees. And once you get it right, you can expect to see a big impact both in staff satisfaction and in your business’ bottom line. Good luck. (Check out the latest price on Amazon HERE)
The Elemental Workplace by Neil Usher
The Employee Experience Advantage by Jacob Morgan
Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
The Future Brain by Dr. Jenny Brockis
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD
The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman, PhD
How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
The Employee Experience by Tracey Maylett, EdD and Matthew Wride, JD
The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
The Toyota Engagement by Tracey Richardson and Ernie Richardson
The Healthy Workplace by Leigh Stringer
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work - Piyush Patel
HR On Purpose - Steve Browne
Work Rules - Laszlo Bock
Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness
The Future Workplace Experience - Jeanne C. Meister and Kevin J. Mulcahy
1. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki:
2. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss:
3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie:
4. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene:
5. The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida:
6. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl:
7. Mastery by George Leonard:
8. Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn:
9. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday:
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