“Motivating leads to de-motivation.” [Reinhard K. Sprenger]

Reinhard K. Sprenger wrote a very good book on how to motivate people. His message is: Don’t! Everybody has an intrinsic motivation and everybody has to develop his individual responsibility to contribute to his company’s success. All external motivation will fail.

His book: (external link!) Mythos Motivation, Wege aus einer Sackgasse [German].

Central topics of Sprenger’s book on motivation:

  • The system of motivating people is organized suspicion.

  • Staff gets entrapped by threats, punishments, briberies, gratifications and awards.

  • Motivating destroys motivation. “How did you finish him off? - With praise.” [Ephraim Kishon]

  • A company’s bonus system is the disease whose cure it purports to be.

  • Motivating is like doping [in sports]: You will no longer feel the pain.

  • Falling back to self-regulating incentive systems is an oath of disclosure for each boss.

  • You can only obstruct motivation.

  • Leadership’s foremost duty is to avoid de-motivation.

  • Self-fulfilling prophecy: If you think your staff is not acting independently, they will not.

  • Over time each boss has the staff he deserves.

  • When we could no longer see the meaning of our work, we started to talk about motivation.

  • People want the freedom to choose.

  • Motivation is everybody’s individual thing. Bosses have to grant freedom for this.

  • The most frequent misdeed in management is the fundamental disrespect of human dignity.