The stick and carrot policy has long been used and is a debatable approach to motivation in the workplace. Yet, the question remains...does it really work for individuals, as well as a group or a team of workers? Basically this concept is practiced with the intent of changing the behavior of employees in the workplace either by rewarding them or bribing them with incentives such as monetary bonuses or by threatening them and changing their behavior through force and compliance. The stick and carrot policy as a means for motivating workers in any job is a complex theory at best and both has had its merits in work environments around the globe.
The 'stick' or fear aspect in this approach has proved to be an effective motivator especially in times where the unemployment rater is high or there are very few jobs available in the market. Fear of losing one's job for lack of productivity or compliance to rules is an effective motivator enabling a person or group of people to keep their jobs. Using this method of the 'stick' usually produces an instantaneously conformity or compliance, therefore producing immediate results. However, fear has also been known to cause unrest amongst employees causing them to band together and in many cases to rebel and strike. It also can be the cause of stress in the workplace and lead to frequent absences or even prolonged absences which can result in low productivity.
The 'carrot' approach on the other hand, sometimes brings much more desired results. When incentives are offered people are more apt to contribute and become more productive if they know they will be rewarded for their efforts. However, this method of 'dangling a carrot' in front of a worker will only be effective if the incentive is attractive enough and if all working conditions make it possible to achieve the goal of attaining said incentives. The incentives also have to be recurrent and attractive enough for employees to continue with this approach, otherwise they will be discouraged or become uninterested and this approach will no longer be effective because they will always feel like they are 'chasing the carrot'.
Of course, every organization and manger must possess the skills to motivate employees so that they are happy, productive, and easier to manage-especially as a group. So does the stick and carrot policy work? I suppose the answer lies somewhere in between- perhaps by subtly blending both methods. Although experience tells us that just giving a simple word of praise to a worker and treating them with respect can mean more than any incentive or threat, because... after all, doesn't everyone just want to be recognized and validated every once in a while for doing their job, and for doing it well?