Chester Elton on Motivation (Corporate Meetings & Incentives Magazine)

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Elton
By Bob Andelman
September 1, 2008
Corporate Meetings & Incentives Magazine

Let’s face it: If CHESTER ELTON and Adrian Gostick named their fifth book “The Stick Principle,” it wouldn’t be nearly as tasty and appealing. Instead, The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance, continues the co-authors’ success in the art of corporate incentives and recognition. We caught up with Elton, senior vice president at the O.C. Tanner Recognition Co., before he headed to Chicago to take the podium at The Motivation Show’s keynote luncheon.

Corporate Meetings & Incentives: Tell us about The Carrot Principle and how it differs from your other books.

Chester Elton: The biggest difference is that we went from writing about case studies — good clients that had made progress — to a study of over 200,000 employees’ reactions to recognition in the workplace. What the data told us is that happy employees are more productive employees and that happy employees make for happy customers. It was now proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that managers who are high users of recognition have more productive teams, more profitable teams, and higher engagement scores. And not only did the data show that recognition improved business results, but also that it brought faster results.

CMI: Has what you’ve learned from the study contradicted anything that you learned writing previous books?

Elton: No, if anything, it reinforced it. For example, one of the big “aha’s” we had in the data was around managers. We found that managers who were high users of recognition excelled in four leadership areas. They were goal-setters, great communicators, and had high indices of trust. They also knew how to hold employees accountable. While managers who use a lot of recognition strategies can sometimes be seen as soft managers — they’re the nice ones who hold parties at Thanksgiving and Halloween — the data showed that they do, at the same time, hold staff accountable and hit their goals.

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