The Carrot Principle by Gostick & Elton asserts that “The Basic Four of Leadership” (Goal Setting, Communication, Trust & Accountability) are accelerated when purposeful recognition is employed by leaders. Below I will summarize the impact of recognition on each of the Basic Four.

Goal Setting Accelerated

One of the powerful ways that recognition reinforces goal setting is that it allows leaders to correct the group’s course in a positive way rather than pointing out deficiencies in performance.

Research shows that positive feedback increases the sense of competence, while negative feedback undermines it. Recognition further accelerates progress toward a goal by bringing new energy to the pursuit.

The critical point here is to tie targeted recognition and rewards to specific, well-defined goals that are time bound. It is almost impossible to strategically reward employees if you do not set clear goals.

Without clearly outlining target goals, you may inadvertently reward actions that are outside the job scope or out of alignment with your company’s objectives, which is a wasted opportunity.

Communication Accelerated

Let’s say you have something extremely important to share with your employees – information they cannot do without. How should it be communicated? Email? Intranet? Department meeting? All hands meeting?

While all of the above are valid, if you really, *really *wanted your employees to learn about something, you would tell them in person – one-on-one.

The assumption of many sales managers is that the communication of most important information will come from the C-suite or Human Resources. However, a good sales manager’s intuition tells them that if they something important to share, they must do it one-on-one.

Effective sales leaders know that to influence behavior, they must speak to the individuals they manage frequently, specifically, and in a timely manner.

The Synergy of Communication & Recognition

The most effective way to encourage desired behavior toward corporate objectives is by combining clear, timely and concise communication with employee recognition.

The combination of clear communication of goals with recognition of their successful completion is the universal translator that converts high-level objectives into clear, everyday activities that employees enthusiastically work to accomplish.

Recognition reinforces the behaviors sales leaders want to see from their sales team, and it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. In fact, while recognizing an employee’s efforts can take just a few seconds, it has a major and lasting impact, as recognition addresses the universal human need to be appreciated.

Communication combined with recognition takes your vision and values and puts them into the hearts and minds of your people – which is exactly where you want them to be.

Trust Accelerated

The moment you publicly recognize someone for a contribution, their trust of you and your company increases substantially.

Recognizing an employee in front of their peers demonstrates to everyone present that they can trust you to give credit where credit is due. In short, they realize that you are not going to steal the spotlight and take credit for their hard work.

The act of public recognition shows that you too are a team player who values others. A specific, sincere compliment reaches your people on an emotional level that no other form of business communication can. It is at once both extremely professional and incredibly personal.

The results of this trust acceleration are closer relationships, greater respect, and a sense of fairness in your team. You will also likely find the byproduct of this new team dynamic is greater productivity.

It’s a simple concept: we work harder for people we like and respect, because we care whether they like and respect us. Interestingly, since we tend to like and respect people who hold us in high regard, a culture of recognition is self-sustaining . As the British industrialist John Ashcroft once said, “The worst mistake a boss can make is not to say ‘well done’.”

Accountability Accelerated

As a sales leader, you should not wait until the end of a project to find out how your people have done. Instead, it is best to check in on their progress along the way, and offer suggestions for course correction if it appears they are headed in a direction other than you had intended.

Recognition is a very visible and positive way to hold your sales team accountable. By recognizing the accomplishment of important milestones along the way to larger goals, you let your team know in a constructive way that you are paying close attention to their efforts to successfully complete the project.

This doesn’t mean you should not address a team’s failure to reach a milestone or larger goal. However, you will find it boosts morale when you do hold your team members accountable for their shortcomings, if you also recognize their achievements. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do.

Following these simple steps will take you and your sales team to a new level of achievement.

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