What is the best way to motivate? Should I go for carrot and stick approach or should I think of something more?

Beautiful! I really like this question and feels so good to be typing an answer for this one.

 The two types of motivation clearly demarcate themselves
1) Extrinsic motivation
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I was reading Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of motivation where he talks about various facets of emotions and how they would be motivated. Segregated into two sectors, the extrinsic motivation is like you mentioned caters to the physiological needs where it makes sure that the basics are taken care of. By basics I would mean to say
  • Physical Needs – This would be something like a house, car, fuel, electricity bill, etc etc where the typical factors would be addressed.
  •  Social Needs – A societal recognition, how people in the society would grade you and look up to you or assign to you as a role. 
  •  Monetary Needs – This would work very well since money mostly has started acting like the universal motivator. Somewhere very eloquently stated is again the recognition of the role of money. It can be a dissatisfier but perhaps not a satisfier. Well! Confusing isn’t it? 
If money is not paid out in the necessary amount, it certainly is a dissatisfier. I personally would not be motivated if I am not paid the amount I deserve. It would not motivate me to go the extra mile if I feel that I am being exploited in a work environment.
At the same time, if you pay me lots of money, lots more than I deserve, it doesn’t mean I am going to be satisfied cos money alone may not be the reason I work for. This can still serve my basic needs and also a little more on the luxury front but this would not bring out the creative juices in me. For that to happen, it would take a little more than that.
2) Intrinsic motivation
This is where I would say most of the real organizational hunt for a resource of quality is. People do a lot more for love than money. Haven’t we all been in a place where we have been madly in love with someone and nothing around in the world matters? Where does this surge come from? If that is the case for a chemistry and a relationship, can we extend this metaphor for the organizational front as well? 
If we look at our work lives, haven’t we all done one or two projects where we have done a complete night out, worked our asses off for days together and gotten out with a great sense of accomplishment? Why have we done that? Was it because it paid us a lot of money? Was it because the organization called us the BEST EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH and promised us a promotion? Was it cos we needed to impress someone we are working with?
Well they might have been the perks with what we did but was it the only reason as to why we did what we did? Wasn’t the reason a little deeper? Wasn’t it cos you loved what you did and would love to get to that stage again?
Or simply stated it was cos we felt that it challenged us emotionally, gave us a great sense of joy accomplishing it.
Well, perhaps that is the trick, identify these kind of people who do things cos they like doing it. For this kind, it is the work that matters. But at the same time I wouldn’t suggest you to cut down on the basics. Let the extrinsic factors be the motivators to the basic level but if you want someone to overreach and go beyond you have to identify what they are all about and the way they are going to contribute will be much more than you could put a tab on.
Well for the answer as to what motivation is important, try and identify what you are trying to achieve with that motivation. If it is about the mundane work, maybe money can do the trick. However if it is creative, if it is going beyond the limits, I suggest the more humanistic approach, cos lets face it, you are working with a smart set of people who know when you are trying too hard to motivate them.
Let them do it themselves and they will do it in a brilliant manner!

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