Why the carrot or the stick?

It’s an open question to you the reader. Why are we attempting to motivate the 21st century knowledge worker, interacting in increasingly complex environments in the same way since the 19th century?


As business leaders we have more than four decades of scientific research on human motivation available to us, yet there has been very little innovation or connection between what science knows and what business does to motivate employees.


While carrots and sticks worked successfully in the 20th century when work was relatively less complex than today, with the increase in matrix organisations and with the ongoing decline in employee engagement and productivity, experts like Peter Drucker, Daniel Pink and Yves Morieux posit that motivation techniques that favour control are precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges and we should move towards the three main drivers of true motivation; autonomy, mastery, and purpose.


What do you think? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve experimented with self managed teams or innovative ways to engage teams.