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Holy cow, Laura, what a great list!

On point #1 (Rewards), don't be too categorically dismissive of punishment. Yes, negative reinforcements (punishments) can lead to negative reaction formations ranging from aversion to avoidance (in both positive and negative forms), but negative consequences also can extinguish undesirable behavior. Fire someone, and they won't do THAT again here, and others will tip-toe, thereafter. Granted, positives are usually much more powerful than negatives, but they all have their place.

Bottom line, all those should be in your motivational toolbox, but which works best varies by individual. "Motivators" are like scents: just as smells are the result of certain receptors in your nose responding to particular particles fitting in, offering a "motivational" inducement won't work if the receptor is missing or non-functional. The intended stimulus element won't create the desired result of "motivation" if the person doesn't care about it. Having a generous maternity leave policy does not motivate this old guy.

Laura, thanks for parsing out the dimensions of emotions and impulses that spur us on. The list identifies areas of influence that we usually run together -- and so deal with less than thoughtfully. What a contribution!

Jim - Great point about negative incentives, although I attribute the motivational value more to the fear of punishment than the punishment itself. At least, that's how it works with my kids... ;-)

Thank you, Margaret!

Much is in the mind of the beholder. There's a classic story about the gal comes in late once a week, watches the boss go ballistic (with no actual repercussion beyond a temper tantrum) and says privately "what a hoot!" because it was simply pure entertainment for her. "Sweet dreams (are made of this)."

Now, ain't that the truth! And I definitely agree that a healthy threat - or judicious application - of negative consequences can be motivating.

Great post Laura! I've included it in my Rainmaker 'Fab Five' blog picks of the week (http://www.maximizepossibility.com/employee_retention/2011/04/the-rainmaker-fab-five-blog-picks-of-the-week-3.html)to share your suggestions for finding motivation in mundane jobs with my readers.

Be well!

Thank you, Chris, I'm honored!

Great list, Laura. I'm pleased to see "negative" motivators included as well. These are - as you note - just as powerful and, as Jim points out in the comments, sometimes a necessary adjustment to maintain desired company/team culture.

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