Ways of Motivating Through Carrot (Positive Reinforcement) and Stick (Negative Reinforcement) at Workplace

20/04/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

The Carrot and Stick Approach of Motivation is a traditional motivation theory that asserts, in motivating people to elicit desired behaviors, sometimes the rewards are given in the form of money, promotion, and any other financial or non-financial benefits and sometimes the punishments are exerted to push an individual towards the desired behavior.

The Carrot and Stick approach of motivation is based on the principles of reinforcement and is given by a philosopher Jeremy Bentham, during the industrial revolution. This theory is derived from the old story of a donkey, the best way to move him is to put a carrot in front of him and jab him with a stick from behind. The carrot is a reward for moving while the stick is the punishment for not moving and hence making him move forcefully.

Thus, an individual is given carrot i.e. reward when he performs efficiently and is jabbed with a stick or is given a punishment in case of non-performance. While giving the punishments, the following points need to be taken care of:

  • Punishment is said to be effective in modifying the behavior if an individual selects a desirable alternative behavior.
  • If the above condition does not occur the behavior will be temporarily suppressed and may reappear after the punishment is over.
  • The punishment is more effective when given at the time the undesirable behavior is actually performed.
  • The management should make sure, that punishment is properly administered and does not become a reward for the undesirable behavior.

Thus, carrot and stick approach of motivation should be applied carefully such that, both have the positive motivational effect on the people in the organization.

Meaning and Implications of Carrot and Stick Approach

Carrot refers to rewards, which are offered or promised to individuals to act in the desired way; while stick refers to punishments which are to be inflicted on individuals, for not acting in the desired way. In away, carrot refers to positive motivation; and stick refers to negative motivation.

Following are the implications of Carrot and Stick Approach:

(i) An overdose of ‘Carrot’ element, in the system of motivation invites laziness and fewer attitudes towards work on the part of individuals. This happens, specially, because many- a-times, people get carrot i.e. rewards regardless of their performance e.g. salary increase, seniority based promotions, etc.

(ii) An overdose of ‘stick’ element, in the system of motivation leads to retaliatory behaviour on part of people, strong organisation of labour unions against management atrocities, poor quality workmanship etc.

Points of comment

(i) There are many other techniques of motivation; other than carrots and sticks.

(ii) Management must evolve an ideal mix of ‘Carrot’ and ‘Stick’ elements; in its motivational schemes: F.W. Taylor’s ‘Differential-piece rate system of wage-payment’ is an instance of such a mix.

Specific Carrots (Rewards) and Sticks (Penalties):

A brief account of specific rewards and penalties; which form part of the management motivational system is given below:

  1. Carrots (rewards)

(a) Monetary rewards

  • Wages/ salaries paid in cash
  • Pay increment on a regular basis.
  • Cash awards
  • Payment of allowances in cash
  • Bonus payment
  • Granting leave with pay
  • Profit sharing schemes for employees.
  • Payment of pension rules.
  • Incentive schemes of wage payment.

Rewards capable of measurement in terms of money:

  • Travel concession
  • Reimbursement of medical expenses
  • Subsidized food, housing etc.
  • Free uniforms
  • Education to employees’ children-free or subsidized.
  • Job security.

(b) Non-monetary rewards

  • Promotions
  • Delegation of authority
  • Assignment of challenging work
  • Certificates of merit
  • Status symbols like, providing a separate room, peon, private Secretary, telephone facilities etc.
  1. Sticks (penalties or punishment)

(a) Monetary punishment

  • Loss of job (meaning loss of regular income)
  • Fines
  • Penalties
  • Withholding annual salary increment

(b) Non-monetary punishment

  • Demotion
  • Transfer to an inconvenient work place.
  • Taking unfit for delegation of authority
  • Not allowing an individual to participate in decision-making.

Point of Comment

Promotion (carrot) and demotion (stick) may have monetary implications also e.g. in form of increase or decrease of pay, respectively.