Horizontal and Vertical Motivators, and Hygiene

I'm not in management, but damned if I don't love a good management paper. Today it's Frederick Herzberg's "One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees," where I learn to not kick an employee.

There are two pieces of vocab I learned reading this article. The first is motivators versus hygiene. This is the difference between doing good things and not doing bad things. Herzberg talks of hygiene the way I talk of table stakes, it's the bare minimum required to have an employee, like not kicking them. To quote executive coach Chris Rock, "you don't get credit for doing something you're supposed to do." This paper talks about advantages and disadvantages of literally kicking an employee.

This is a literal application of the term and was frequently used in the past. It has, however, three major drawbacks: 1) It is inelegant; 2) it contradicts the precious image of benevolence that most organizations cherish; and 3) since it is a physical attack, it directly stimulates the autonomic nervous system, and this often results in negative feedback--the employee may just kick you in return.

Motivators are the other end, which comes to the second piece of vocab I learned.

Horizontal motivators are additions or changes to the work an employee does, like more assignments or rotating responsibilities. Vertical motivators are rewards for being good at your job, like increased autonomy or formally recognizing their expertise.

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