“Motivating Leads to De-motivation.” [Reinhard K. Sprenger]

Reinhard K. Sprenger wrote an insightful book on how to motivate people, with the central message being: Don’t! Everyone has intrinsic motivation and must develop individual responsibility to contribute to their company’s success. All external motivation efforts 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 are entrapped by threats, punishments, bribes, rewards and awards.

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

  • A company’s bonus system is the disease it claims to cure.

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

  • Falling back on self-regulating incentive systems is an admission of failure for any 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, every 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 an individual matter. Bosses must allow for this freedom.

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