Management theory has known that the “Carrot or Stick” method isn’t effective for optimizing your team.
Employees work just hard enough to get the carrot, or just enough to avoid the stick.
This means that after a certain point money isn’t a motivator anymore, it’s a de-motivator.
When your team is incentivized to be mediocre, they’ll perform perfectly every time.
So how do you get them to hustle for you?
1. Give them more ownership and responsibility.
If you give them clear expectations about what’s required in the deliverable, and a clear mission statement for the project, do you really need to hold their hands?
As long as it’s ethical and is done by your deadline, does it matter how the work gets done? How might the pressure of breathing over their shoulder impact their performance?
2. Give them positive feedback when they do something well.
If they never know when they’re doing something well, they will have no reason to continue doing it. You’ve told them what they’re doing isn’t valuable.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward
3. Be prepared to let projects fail.
Just because you’re a great manager doesn’t mean your team will always perform their best.
Pro-tip: If you’re seeing the same mistakes happen, be forgiving the first time, and ask what they need or how you can help. The second time, express your disappointment but assert that you’re there to help.
If you’ve asked how you can help, provided resources or tools, and output is still low, you either have a dud or someone who is experiencing a temporary life event.
It’s your job to build enough trust with your team so that they feel comfortable telling you about what’s going on in their lives.
If they don’t hit their performance criteria (that you both agreed on when you hired them) let them go. The saying goes “hire slow, fire fast.”