Incentive Programs are Ineffective

Reward and Incentive Programs are Ineffective — Even Harmful by Peter Scholtes

The greatest management conceit is that we can “motivate” people. We can’t. Motivation is there, inside people. Our people were motivated when we hired them and everyday, when they come to work, they arrive with the intention of doing a good job. Managers cannot motivate. They can, however, de-motivate. Herzberg established this over 30 years ago (Herzberg, Frederick “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?” Harvard Business Review, September-October 1987, pp. 109-120. This is a reprint with commentary, of an earlier classic paper.)

The greatest managerial cynicism is that workers are withholding a certain amount of effort that must be bribed from them by means of various incentives, rewards, contests, or merit pay programs.

Related: Stop Demotivating EmployeesPerformance Without Appraisalblog posts on respect for peopleEliminate SlogansThe Leader’s HandbookTheory X management

One thought on “Incentive Programs are Ineffective

  1. No name provided

    This is only one way of looking at incentives, which is being offered in the wrong circumstance. Incentives should not be used a bribe to motivate poorly performing workers, as these are not the people you want working for you anyway. They should be used as bonuses for challenge orientated top performers.

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