This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Carrots and Sticks Don't Work" by Paul Marciano. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the RESPECT model for engagement? Why is respect more important than monetary incentives?

In his book Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, Paul Marciano discusses the RESPECT model for engagement. He breaks down the five directions of respect: respect for the organization, leadership, team members, work, and the individual, and why each one is important.

Here is what Marciano had to say about respect in the workplace.


Employees who feel respect for the company and feel respected in return work harder to achieve the group’s goals. They tend to adopt a more giving stance rather than obsessing about personal gain. An effective leader has loyal followers who willingly do what is asked of them. 

Respect can come from fear and intimidation, or it can come from sincerity and helpful motives. The latter is more sustainable and inspiring, so the book focuses on the latter.

The RESPECT model goes in 5 different directions: 

  • Organization: mission, values, and goals
  • Leadership: competency, ethics, fairness
  • Team members: competency, cooperativity, honesty, diligence
  • Work: challenge, reward, value-creating
  • Individual: feeling respected by all of the above

We’ll explain each and how to develop respect in each direction.

Respect for the Organization

Cultural values of ethics, hard work, fairness, and innovation all drive respect. When employees feel respect for the organization, they express pride at working for the organization.

Respect for the overall organization causes employees to work harder. Employees are less likely to burnout. And customers are more likely to trust the organization because of its values.

A practical strategy to develop respect is to give back to the community. A few useful suggestions for volunteer projects:

  • Work on projects that can be completed in one day, to see it from beginning to end.
  • Make the impact concrete and permanent, like building a playground rather than picking up trash.
  • Make teams of people from different departments to work together.
  • Record the event and get media attention, for long term value from the event.

Another strategy is to publicize your organization’s relative strengths. This gives them pride in knowing there’s something special about the company.

Respect for the Supervisor

Supervisors should be hard-working, competent, fair, and compassionate. Good supervisors advocate for the good of the team and don’t leave people behind. 

Managers promoted from within tend to be respected because they’ve done the job of other employees before.

Supervisors who denigrate employees lose respect.

Respect for Team Members

Employees will work harder for teammates they respect because they don’t want to let their team down. They openly communicate with one another to resolve problems – they respect each other too much to gossip behind their back. 

Failing to hold underperforming team members responsible demotivates the entire team.

An easy way to increase respect in the team is to make commonalities clear, increasing empathy for each other. They can use personal background to understand future behaviors. One way to discover this is to circulate a team survey that asks personal questions. These can then be explored casually outside of work.

Questions to Build Rapport

A good first step to building rapport is to know more about the person. Here are questions that people can answer about themselves to share more about each other. This can be circulated as a questionnaire, or done live in a group:

  • Where were you born and raised?
  • What are your favorite sports, clubs, hobbies?
  • What are your children’s names and ages?
  • What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve done?
  • What’s one thing you want to experience/accomplish in your life?
  • What is your proudest accomplishment?
  • What was your favorite job and why?
  • What was your worst job and why?
  • What’s the best career advice you ever received?
  • What advice would you give to someone starting her career?
  • What are your push buttons – what gets you angry?

Respect for the Work

Employees should feel challenged at the limit of their abilities. Completion of this challenging work creates a feeling of growth and accomplishment. 

They should also feel that their work matters. It should be clear how their goals fit in with the organization’s larger goals, and how it contributes value to the end customer.

Employees feel better when singled out to take on a project – they feel particularly entrusted with a difficult task and are motivated not to fail, at risk of betraying the manager’s trust. 

Finally, work should lead to opportunities for advancement and growth.

The less motivating work is, the more important it is for the manager to explain why the task is important. Even work that seems important to the manager can be undervalued by the employee, leading to poor performance.

Respect as an Individual

If the worker does not believe that the organization has the worker’s best interests at heart, the worker will not reciprocate. This means covering all hygiene needs like salary and benefits and providing all other aspects of RESPECT model. The employee should feel as though the company does right by them.

The RESPECT Model: Building Employee Engagement

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Here's what you'll find in our full Carrots and Sticks Don't Work summary :

  • How to motivate your employees and teammates to do a better job
  • How to know if you're a terrible manager
  • Why the carrot and stick motivation model doesn't work anymore—and what to do instead

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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