Debate: The best way to motivate employees



December 11, 2018



Editor’s Note: Battling brothers Kurt and Eric Scherzinger tackle the age-old debate on the best way to motivate employees: with a carrot (reward for doing the right thing or reaching a goal) or a stick (punishment for getting out of line or not meeting expectations).


Scherzinger Face Off: The carrot vs. the stick

ERIC: Kurt, you seem more like a millennial every time we disagree, even though you are older than me. I would think it would be the other way around, but I feel like managing with a stick is the way to go. I mean really: We are giving someone a job, and they get commission and regular pay every week. I think you lack work ethic. Look at the old days, when Great-Grandpa, Grandpa and now Dad ran the business. They put in very long hours themselves, and expected employees to show up on time to do their jobs and do them well, too. What a crazy idea: Do your job and get paid?

KURT: What is wrong with you? How old are you? That isn’t the workplace of today. It is the 21st century, for crying out loud. To get the very best employees, you need to reward them. Making measurable goals individually and as a team, and rewarding them along the way, is how you keep employees engaged, performance at its peak, and morale high.

ERIC: Engaged, performing better and keeping morale high? I mean, this is a good place to work. We pay well for rewarding work. I am excited to come to work every day and see what we will accomplish. I guess I am just old school, and try to do my best all of the time. That is reward enough for me.

KURT: Well, we assume everyone who comes to work wants to do their very best. But giving them a little bit of an incentive to push them even more — to get more out of them and keep them doing their best — is worth it. I mean, why not? We need to celebrate when our employees hit personal and team goals. This should be a fun place to work, and we should reward people. It doesn’t need to be the old stiff place to work. We aren’t going to retain our very best employees if we do it your old-school way.

ERIC: OK, but how is having all your fluffy stuff going to help us retain people? If employees don’t want to work and follow the rules to collect a paycheck and help people, maybe we don’t have the right people?

KURT: Right now, the U.S. unemployment rate is extremely low. It’s not like people are beating down our door looking for a job. Offering a few extra incentives to keep the people we have who are the best, and attract new employees, is what we have to do.

ERIC: We give them a paycheck. Why isn’t that enough?

KURT: You’re missing the point. As fourth-generation pest management professionals, you and I have always had the incentive of knowing we are on a track to run the company someday — if we do our very best. I think we have lived up to our end, but rewarding our employees and retaining them is so important. You are too wrapped up in your marketing mindset.

ERIC: I can see what you are saying, but it’s not that hard: Follow the rules and do your job. At the same time, I will concede that a few extra incentives are always nice. I mean, when I make a sale, I get commission. Our techs get paid on production, so when they do a job, they get paid. Sounds like a pretty good reward to me.

KURT: Right, and that is the norm. But we need to do more than just the norm to stand out and maintain excellence at our company. That’s why creating incentives — and not beating people with a stick — is the way to go.


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