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Book Review: A Carrot A Day

A Carrot A Day is 365 tips on employee recognition  by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton.  Having left Corporate America and its management duties behind, why am I reading it?  It was referred to me by a business newsletter I trust (FYI, this is a great way to find good books).  I like business books in general.  Finally, I am intrigued by the idea of using carrots rather than sticks to motivate, and I wanted to see if I might find tips that I and my coaching clients could use to recognize and motivate ourselves.

The book is just okay.  I buy into the premise, and it’s a very fast read.  Many of the tips are repetitive, though I like that they range from no cost to extravagant and spontaneous to more involved to plan.  Certainly, it’s a good primer for managers looking for ideas.  I did get some ideas for how individuals might implement these techniques for themselves:

Gostick and Elton talk about being generous, explicit and specific with praise.  We can all do this for ourselves.  Keep a journal and write down at least one thing that you did well that day.  As with employees, this recognition will reinforce good behavior and will redirect your energy to what is working;

Tips on capturing events with photos to display throughout the year can be used as a shortcut for visualization.  When you see something inspirational, take a picture and hang it front and center in your office;

The use of small, low cost rewards certainly translates to individuals trying to self-motivate towards their goals.  For example, Gostick and Elton suggest keeping a rewards box and having a raffle each week.  It reminds me to stock up on small treats like journals or spa treats that I can break out when I need a pick-me-up.

So the book itself wasn’t an earth-shattering read, but the concept of carrots and recognition is important and valuable.  We can be our own worst enemy and often beat ourselves up for not doing enough or failing at something.  Just giving me the framework of a carrot a day and reminding me of the power of positive reinforcement made the book well worth reading.

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