Motivation 3.0 – The demise of the carrot and stick


BY Mel Hammond


10 November 2017

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Every business has different ways of motivating its team. Back in the day, it was widely accepted that money was the only way to drive people to greatness. Higher wages. Bonus structures. Expense accounts.

Now, I’m not saying that people don’t want to be well-compensated for their work (including myself!). A decent, fair level of income for each and every team member forms the basis of a strong motivational strategy, both to avoid money worries getting in the way of anyone’s work and also to prevent any intra-team resentment. Plus, it is just plain reasonable.

But how does money succeed as a driver in today’s work environment? Research suggests that a large proportion of graduates today, when considering career goals and job opportunities, rank things like job satisfaction, working with a great team, and making a positive difference to others, as being of greater value than career prospects, remuneration and/or status.

People want to use their natural talents, and years of education, towards some kind of purpose, and they want to balance their work with their outside life.

In addition to this, the type of jobs we are doing has changed. In most modern economies automation, outsourcing, and the rise of the machines are removing a lot of those monotonous, task-driven roles and they have been replaced by highly-skilled, creativity-centric positions.

If this trend is going to continue, then surely the ‘carrot-and-stick’ method of motivation just isn’t going to pay dividends in every workplace. Once people are satisfied with their lot, how do you drive your team to produce their best work? Clue: not by treating them like donkeys.


According to Daniel Pink in his book “Drive”, the answer is in the way they are able to go about their day-to-day; in the personal need to be able to:

  1. direct their own lives (autonomy)
  2. learn new things and strive to reach goals (mastery), and
  3. benefit both themselves, but also the greater community (purpose).

I tried to apply this perspective to both my past jobs, and current position. The first bit didn’t take long. Honestly, in some of the positions I’ve held in the past, I don’t think there was any consideration towards motivation AT ALL. I guess I kind of understand the thought process that results in “You’re getting paid to do a job, so just do it.” But is that really going to bring out the best in anyone?

Here at DN, a lot of emphasis is placed on creating the optimal working environment for the team. Tess wrote a little while back about killing the hierarchy, and that is just a part of it. Sure, we have bosses, but hopefully, no-one ever has the feeling that they are being bossed around.

So, how do we match up to those three drivers?

  • Autonomy: within reason, we are free to choose the hours we work, and where we work. As long as we are here for any required meetings, and our absence does not affect client work, or anyone else in the team, we have the freedom and flexibility to choose how, when and where we go about our daily grind.
  • Mastery: we understand the need for constant learning. This is of particular importance in an industry like ours, where things can change in the blink of an eye. Every team member is given the time, and if necessary the funding, to pursue work-related development. In return, we have cultivated an environment where everyone is open to pushing themselves to the next level.
  • Purpose: as a B-Corporation in the making (more on that to come!), we strongly believe in working towards a purpose bigger than just our profit margins. Sure, we want to make money, but should that come at the detriment of our people, our community, or the planet as a whole? We think not.


Motivating a bunch of hardworking, passionate (read: opinionated!), talented individuals, and building a unified team working towards the same goal is priceless.

Put quite simply, WE GIVE A DAMN.

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Mel Hammond

Mel looks after our digital marketing client offering, from brand persona right through to content and campaign strategy. In-house, she heads up our marketing team, assisting Sam with marketing strategy and business development.