Motivate your employees with the right method.
Do you ever ask yourself, “Why can’t I get my staff to [fill in the blank]? I used to be able to get them to do things fairly easily but now it’s so exhausting.” Consider that you might be practicing the “carrot and stick” method of motivation and influence. Before I get into the specifics of this method and what you need to do instead, I’d like to tell you why I’m writing about this.
I have been touched by a child with Asperger’s Disorder. When I learned the diagnosis, I felt both saddened and relieved. The sadness came as I questioned his future ability to become independent. Relief hit because I had a specific disorder to study and words to characterize to those who thought I was overreacting. I studied everything I could get my hands on for ways to help him overcome his social struggles. I looked to outside information and advice on at least a weekly basis when I first found out. There are so many more resources available now than fifteen years ago, including Asperger Experts. We can all learn from them today, regardless of any personal connection to the disorder.
Recently, Danny Raede, CEO of Asperger Experts (diagnosed with the disorder himself) posted a video on Facebook. The advice he provides for parents is relevant to business culture. One of the benefits of Asperger’s, in my experience, is the ability to simplify human interactions. Raede is great at it.
Carrots only provide temporary motivation.
Raede describes the “carrot and stick” method as a “back-loaded” method; one that might give immediate results but significant declines over time until you barely see results at all. Wikipedia describes this method as “… a metaphor for the use of a combination of reward and punishment to induce the desired behavior. It is based on the idea that a cart driver might activate a reluctant mule by dangling a carrot in front of it and smacking it on the rear with a stick. The idea sometimes appears as a metaphor for the realist concept of ‘hard power’.” Do you want to treat your employees like mules? More importantly, do you think that will make them work harder?
As Raede explains, the problem is that this method of motivation leads to fear and mistrust. Kids with Asperger’s eventually sense such a severe lack of safety that they go into “defense mode”. “Carrot and stick” is a means of getting what you want by using fear, bribery, manipulation, and control as motivating factors. In the early stages of your interactions with employees, this might lead to great results. But, over time, you need more manipulation, control, and fear to get smaller and smaller results. People eventually shut down and may consider leaving your business.
Holistic influence is the better approach.
A long-term, but the more difficult approach is to use holistic influence. This “front-loaded” method, as Raede describes, means you have to start by developing trust. Like a parent, a leader’s job is to guide, assist and help develop your staff. You do this by giving them clear tasks and expectations and letting them try and fail. They need to feel safe in making a few mistakes. When you believe in them, they will get the job done on their own. If you invest in the development of your employees, growth can be exponential, as Raede explains in his video. When you build confidence, results follow.
It didn’t take long to figure out that the” carrot and stick” method, which is what I mostly grew up with, wasn’t going to work with my son. Instead, I worked with professional help through school, research and attendance at Autism Society of Minnesota events to learn tactics that worked. Along with testing those tactics, I worked to establish trust and confidence. By ninth grade, my son learned to totally advocate for himself and made it through high school setting his own four-year plan for graduation. He ended up graduating in the top 10 students of his class and is now attending his first year of college. He is not just surviving but thriving.
Is it time for you to consider new ways to motivate your employees? You’d be surprised by what they can achieve with this better leadership approach.
How businesses are finding individuals with Asperger’s to be a huge benefit because they provide a “plus for innovation”; http://www.businessinsider.com/peter-thiel-aspergers-is-an-advantage-2015-4.