Understanding the Seven Rules of Motivation


A reward, tangible or intangible, is presented after the occurrence of an action (i.e. behavior) with the intent to cause the behavior to occur again. This is done by associating positive meaning to the behavior. Studies show that if the person receives the reward immediately, the effect would be greater, and decreases as duration lengthens.

Drive-reduction theories

The Drive Reduction Theory grows out of the concept that we have certain biological drives, such as hunger. As time passes the strength of the drive increases if it is not satisfied . Upon satisfying a drive the drive's strength is reduced. The theory is based on diverse ideas from the theories of Freud to the ideas of feedback control systems, such as a thermostat.

Cognitive dissonance theory

Suggested by Leon Festinger, this occurs when an individual experiences some degree of discomfort resulting from an incompatibility between two cognitions. For example, a consumer may seek to reassure himself regarding a purchase, feeling, in retrospect, that another decision may have been preferable.

Types of motivation

(1) Achievement Motivation

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It is the drive to pursue and attain goals. An individual with achievement motivation wishes to achieve objectives and advance up on the ladder of success. Here, accomplishment is important for its own shake and not for the rewards that accompany it. It is similar to 'Kaizen' approach of Japanese Management.

(2) Affiliation Motivation

It is a drive to relate to people on a social basis. Persons with affiliation motivation perform work better when they are complimented for their favorable attitudes and co-operation.

(3) Competence Motivation

It is the drive to be good at something, allowing the individual to perform high quality work. Competencemotivated people seek job mastery, take pride in developing and using their problem-solving skills and strive to be creative when confronted with obstacles. They learn from their experience.

(4) Power Motivation

It is the drive to influence people and change situations. Power motivated people wish to create an impact on their organization and are willing to take risks to do so.

(5) Attitude Motivation

Attitude motivation is how people think and feel. It is their self confidence, their belief in themselves, their attitude to life. It is how they feel about the future and how they react to the past.

(6) Incentive Motivation

It is where a person or a team reaps a reward from an activity. It is "You do this and you get that", attitude. It is the types of awards and prizes that drive people to work a little harder.

(7) Fear Motivation

Fear motivation coercions a person to act against will. It is instantaneous and gets the job done quickly. It is helpful in the short run.


Motivation is not only in a single direction i.e. downwards. In the present scenario, where the workforce is more informed, more aware, more educated and more goal oriented, the role of motivation has left the boundries of the hierarchy of management. Apart from superior motivating a subordinate, encouragement and support to colleague as well as helpful suggestions on the right time, even to the superior, brings about a rapport at various work levels. Besides, where workforce is self motivated, just the acknowledgement of the same makes people feel important and wanted.


Motivation refers to the drive and efforts to satisfy a want or goal, whereas satisfaction refers to the contentment experienced when a want is satisfied. In contrast, inspiration is bringing about a change in the thinking pattern. On the other hand Manipulation is getting the things done from others in a predetermined manner.



Hence, manipulation or external stimulus as well as inspiration or internal stimulus acts as carriers of either demotivation or motivation which in turn either results into dissatisfaction or satisfaction depending upon.

Dilemma about motivation

Managers tend to have many misconceptions about motivation. As health-care managers, it is important to assess and understand such misconceptions in an effort to become more effective managers and to not perpetuate myths about motivation. For example, research indicates that managers typically make incorrect assumptions about what motivates their employees. Morse (2003) states that "managers are not as good at judging employee motivation as they think they are. In fact, people from all walks of life seem to consistently misunderstand what drives employee motivation."

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The following is an enumeration of many of these misconceptions.

Although I'm not motivated by extrinsic rewards, others are

This idea is discussed by Morse in his review of Chip Heath's study of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. The conclusion is that an "extrinsic incentive bias" exists and is, in fact, wide-spread among managers and employees. That is, individuals assume that others are driven more by extrinsic rewards than intrinsic ones.

Some people just are not motivated

Everyone is motivated by some-thing; the problem for managers is that "that something" may not be directed toward the job. This creates challenges for managers who must try to redirect the employees' energies toward job-related behaviors.

People are motivated by money

Compensation motivates only to a point; that is, when compensation isn't high enough or is considered to be inequitable, it's a de-motivator. In contrast, when it is too high, it also seems to be a de-motivator, what Atchison calls the "golden handcuffs," and results in individual performance being tempered to protect the higher compensation level.

One-size-fits-all reward and recognition programs motivate staff

People, being people, are different, act in different ways, and are motivated by different things. Tailoring rewards and recognition is viewed as a way to focus on and understand the individual and his unique qualities.

Example: Infosys: Narayan Murthy: Infosys Chief mentor and Chairman:

"Our core assets walk out every evening, it is our duty to make sure that these assets return in the next morning, mentally and physically enthusiastic and energetic."

Infosys Technologies is a classic example in point. It treated its employees as associates and partners, and created a new revolution by giving away stock options to its employees as a reward for their performance. The result was that Infosys got the finest talent to work for the company, and the employee dedication and loyalty index was very high. The company grew rapidly and ranked among the leading offshore IT service providers in the world because of its world-class service quality delivered to its global clients.


Managerial Activities For Employee Motivation

Immediate Feedback Works

Managers who set clear performance standards, become more knowledgeable about employee performance, and provide fair and accurate informal feedback on performance strengths can significantly improve individual performance.

Manager-Led Employee Development

By examining the employee development activities of the highest rated managers, we see that some activities have a much more positive influence on improving employee performance than others.

Target Fewer Activities

Similar to the results of the performance management survey, managers have a much better chance of vastly improving employee performance by targeting their efforts on a much smaller list of employee development activities.

Effectiveness at Employee Development Increases Employee Performance

Survey responses show some fascinating disparities in perceptions between employees and managers concerning employee development. The vast majority of employees seek to learn and grow in the course of doing day-to-day work and want their managers to create a learning environment in that context.

Leadership Competencies

Organizations normally specify a set of leadership competencies that describe success for its managers and typically use 360-degree evaluations to assess managerial behaviors associated with these competencies. After analyzed the results of the 360-degree assessments of nearly 1,000 managers in a large government

agency and found that the most successful managers did not receive high scores on all of the 21 designated leadership competencies..

Improving Certain Leadership Competences Can Increase Leadership Effectiveness 

The associated behaviors of these two competencies relating to employee development and performance management are: 1) creates an environment and strategy to support continuous on-the-job learning, and 2) strategically uses communication to produce enthusiasm and foster an atmosphere of open exchange and support.

Employee Engagement

Many organizations conduct periodic surveys that probe employee, and sometimes customer, attitudes and opinions relating to productivity, profitability, retention, and job/customer satisfaction. In their groundbreaking book, First Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup Organization argue that the number one reason why people thrive in an organization is their immediate supervisor and it's also the number one reason they quit.


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Motivation of employees is a tricky business. Managers often do not understand the concepts, principles, and myths about motivation well enough to put them in practice. Managers can improve their success rate by providing extrinsic rewards that will help their employees to be intrinsically motivated to become top performers.