Book Summary: The Carrot Principle

Show us a leader that sets clear goals, communicates honestly, respects people, treats them fairly, holds people responsible, and builds trustworthy connections. And we'll show you a leader who's nearly there.

Show Gostick an organization where employees arrive on time, do their tasks, and are pleased. We'll show you an organization on the verge of realizing its full potential.

But why does it say "almost"? What makes it "close"? What is the source of Gostick's dissatisfaction? He claims that we require an accelerator. Something to help your team get from where it is currently to where it can go.

"There is no accelerator with more impact than purpose-based recognition," Gostick says.

The missing accelerator that can accomplish so much but is utilized so infrequently is a leader giving genuine and unforgettable gratitude to a person.

Simply said, people are considerably more likely to generate value when they know their talents and potential will be appreciated and recognized.

We're not talking about money; money isn't as potent a motivator as many people believe.

In fact, one-third of those who get a monetary prize will utilize it to pay their expenses. Another in five will have no idea where they spent their money or how much they brought in a few months.

But what if you were given something practical and concrete as a reward? You probably still have it and can picture the award in your head, even if it's been years.

Giving praise has a ripple effect that extends beyond the receiver. It instills in employees a sense of possibility and a drive to reap the benefits. However, acknowledgment isn't the entire solution.

Before being recognized, the fundamentals must be in place: goal-setting ability, communication, trust, and accountability.

When a manager understands the fundamentals and then adds the accelerator to each, management effectiveness skyrockets.

This is what The Carrot Principle is all about. It's a basic notion, yet it consistently works.

Goal Setting Accelerated

A man running achieving his goals.

By rewarding behaviors that get employees closer to the objective, recognition speeds up goal-setting. Leaders may positively adjust the group's path rather than pointing out performance flaws if they do it this way.

Recognition helps to speed work toward a goal by infusing it with new vitality. While establishing a clear objective and purpose may be enough to get employees excited about starting a job, they must feel progress. Or else, their excitement may diminish.

Communication Accelerated

Effective managers understand that they must talk to each employee under their supervision regularly, explicitly, and promptly to affect behavior. Employee appreciation is the most efficient method to do this.

Recognition works because it satisfies a basic human desire: we all want to be noticed by the people we work with.

Communication paired with the acknowledgment of strategically necessary actions gets your vision and values off the wall and into the hearts and minds of your employees, which is precisely where you want them.

Trust Accelerated

A cute couple walk and holding hand on street.

The trust meter jumps off the scale the minute you publicly honor someone for a contribution. Everyone present understands they can trust you to share the credit since the employee is being acknowledged.

Individual team members get more connected to you and each other due to regular acts of acknowledgment. Closer employee-manager connections, better respect, and a feeling of fairness in your team are the outcomes of this acceleration.

Accountability Accelerated

You don't wait till the conclusion of a project to get an update as a manager. The same is true for recognition.

Recognizing successes and milestones along the route to greater goals sends a good message to employees that they are held accountable for the project's ultimate success.

Give praise anytime an employee delivers, especially when they go above and beyond. This will help you hold your staff accountable.

Creating a Carrot Culture

You must first assess how engaged your staff is before you can attempt to build a Carrot Culture.

Employees who are engaged are easy to notice—they work tirelessly to fulfill the company's objectives. They're your go-to individuals, your above-and-beyond performers. We'd want to see more of them.

But there's a catch: they're also the most sought-after members of your team. If an employee is dissatisfied, they are most likely to be the first to leave.

Gostick provides us with various benchmarks against which we may measure our employees' engagement.

  • Employees routinely go above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Employees are extremely driven to contribute to the company's success.
  • Employees have a high sense of personal achievement as a result of their job.
  • Employees are aware of how their jobs contribute to the organization's success.
  • When executing their tasks at work, employees maintain a good attitude.

The Building Blocks of a Carrot Culture

The biggest barrier to establishing a Carrot Culture, according to Gostick, is empty values declarations, not workers. Corporate culture must be more than just slogans on the walls. Managers in a Carrot Culture are aware of this.

Great businesses and effective managers develop a Carrot Culture one person at a time using a range of inclusive and meaningful recognition events. Four of the most frequent are listed by Gostick:

  • Day-to-day recognition: Pats on the back, handwritten notes, team lunches, and on-the-spot award certificates are examples of day-to-day acknowledgment.
  • Above-and-beyond recognition: When your employees go above and above, they are entitled to a more official reaction from your company.
  • Career recognition: Most companies have a formal program to celebrate employees on the anniversary of their first day on the job.
  • Celebration events: These include the successful completion of a major project, the accomplishment of record results, corporate anniversaries, and new products.

Gostick recommends that we tell a particular, informed story about the accomplishment to ensure that the acknowledgment reaches the largest possible audience when giving each of the following prizes. His four-point plan is simple to follow.

  • Discuss the issue, whether it's a problem or an opportunity.
  • Describe what was done in detail.
  • Quantify and qualify the action's outcomes.
  • Connect it to the firm's principles to illustrate how it benefited the company.

Choosing The Reward

A happy man being rewarded.

Choosing a type of recognition that accesses an employee's motivating triggers is perhaps the most challenging part of the recognition process. Here are some ideas for each of the Carrot Principle's five areas:

Goal Setting

Set high expectations for a new employee's first day by organizing a little party. Then send an e-mail to all workers informing them about the new hire and why she was picked. Invite your coworkers to visit.

Even better, welcome the new member aboard with a card signed by everyone on the team.

Effective managers make it a point to identify, tap, and acknowledge each employee's strengths. Make it a mission to figure out what each person in your department excels at now.

When an employee achieves a specific objective, reprint his business cards with a distinctive achievement-level logo. Make him a member of a select group.


Make a daily commitment to address individuals by name and greet them with a good morning. It demonstrates that you view people as individuals rather than simply faces in a crowd.

You may be an excellent boss, but you can't be everywhere at once, so seek assistance. Give your employees a stack of thank-you cards and encourage them to honor teammates who help the firm achieve its goals.

Deliver your employee's next paycheck to them in person. Spend a few seconds before handing it over, describing exactly what they bring to the organization. It's never the amount of money that makes someone feel like a millionaire. It's the adoration.


Give a membership to the person's favorite magazine as a gift that goes on giving all year. If the magazine has a message line on the address label, use it to acknowledge the employee's accomplishment and express gratitude.

Upgrade a top performer's ticket to business class when she's going on a long work trip.

While you're traveling on business, make arrangements for the staff who stay behind to be recognized. Pay in advance for a nearby restaurant to provide lunch or have the cafeteria send coffee and fresh pastries one day.


When was the last time you asked one of your team members for their thoughts? Make today the day you seek an opinion on a current project if it has been a while.

Improve your listening skills by being a more active listener. Make eye contact as often as possible. Make a mental note of everything. Subsequent inquiries should be asked.

Your people will open up to you more if you demonstrate that you can be trusted with their problems and suggestions.

Consider the one person in the office with whom you have the most faith. Make an appointment to discuss the link between trust and recognition with that individual. Inquire about the kind of recognition that worked for her and what she has learned about incentives over time.


Make a mental note the next time a client, vendor, or coworker appreciates someone in your department. Inquire about specifics and keep track of them in a file shared again at the person's yearly assessment.

Take the employee who has played a big role in keeping the account with you the next time you meet with a client.

Make it public when you promote someone. Bring everyone together to celebrate the accomplishment. Take the time to explain how the employee got to where they are now, and express thanks.

Invite a deserving individual or team to a board of directors meeting to accept an award and a round of applause.

Even though it just takes a few minutes, it is the pinnacle of acknowledgment. It also informs your board of directors about the firm and what its employees are doing.


The missing accelerator that can accomplish so much but is utilized so infrequently is a leader giving genuine and unforgettable gratitude to a person.

Simply said, people are considerably more likely to generate value when they know their talents and potential will be appreciated and recognized.

Claim your welcome gifts

- 100+ Social Media Content Ideas
- 2022 Social Media Content Calendar
- Ultimate Facebook ads checklist
- 7-step Kingsmaker Growth Blueprint
and more...
No spam, only valuable content. Guaranteed!

If you don't like it, unsubscribe at any time. Seriously, no hard feelings.