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In the mid-1990s, Reinhard Sprenger published a book titled “Mythos Motivation” (The Motivation Myth). Sprenger’s analysis of the ways to escape common motivation traps quickly gained popularity and became a bestseller in no time. I’m sure anyone who has worked long enough in the HR space has read this (non-)motivation bible ;-)

This simple passage captures the core of what Sprenger was getting at: “People no longer motivate themselves, because they are so used to having someone else to motivate them…A manager’s role should be to simply resolve demotivation roadblocks”.

Sprenger had hit the nail on the head and this breakthrough idea quickly caught on in the 90s.  Though this philosophy proved popular in the 90s, does it hold true in today’s rapidly-changing environment? The work environment is increasingly populated with millennials, and before long, they will dominate the workplace. Never having experienced life without web and mobile access, this new generation of workers will approach work differently, identifying themselves with the work they do, rather than who they do it for.

With their need for mobility, flexibility and freedom in the way they work, would the same idea apply to them?  We believe not.

An enormous amount of money is spent on the search for new hires.  You hire external agencies, invest in recruiters’ time and set aside time for interviews. To hire a single person for my team, I once had to hold a lengthy series of 15 interviews.  I can also recall the hiring process in the early 90s when I worked at a small start-up.  The applicant market at the time was strong and our company spent a weekend every month at recruiting exhibitions to present ourselves to possible applicants.  The process was ridiculous: applicants passed by, dropped off their CVs and asked for incredible salaries.  By the end of the weekend, they usually had 5 offers, while we had no chance of competing against well-known brand names who could offer much higher salaries.  It ended up as a waste of resources, as we often came away from recruiting exhibitions empty-handed.

What happens next?  A considerable number of companies still feel that the job’s done once they’ve gone through the cost-intensive process of hiring a full team.  Many employees report that career planning processes are poor and insufficient budgets are going towards their talent development.  Managers complain that the best source to identify talents for succession or during reorganization is talking to peers at the coffee corner. Top talent programs, if they exist, are often misused as a way to dangle a carrot in front of the moderately talented and performance review programs follow a highly-predictable and unchanging bell curve.  Rather than viewing career development as an investment, companies often treat it as a cost not worthy of anything more than a tight budget.  This system does not promote effective employee development, resulting in stifled innovation and ultimately hurting the company.

This brings us back to our discussion about millennials and the workforce of the 1990s. The war for talents we experienced in the 90s will be nothing more than a gentle breeze compared to what we can expect in 2020. The gap between talents needed and available applicants continues to grow and employee expectations will go beyond Sprenger’s solution of simply removing demotivation factors.

SAP and SuccessFactors stand at the cutting edge of this highly interesting and dynamic market.  We are more than proud that we have been selected once again by leading analysts as the leader in the market of integrated talent management solutions, integrated recruiting talent management solutions and integrated learning talent management solutions. We didn’t get there by just generating better code or embracing the superiority of the deployment model “cloud”.

Instead, we have achieved success from our deep understanding of customer needs, co-innovating with them to focus on the important things – the ones that drive performance and derive value for our customers. There ultimately exists a direct connection between talent management programs and the business performance of enterprises.  And more than that, embracing the aspects of collaboration, social interaction and learning from each other. But more on “social” once we come closer to SAPphire Madrid.

Our tireless efforts with this approach have recognized us once again as the leader on the cutting edge of recruiting, learning, performance and talent management. And this is simply thanks to our customers   betting on our solutions and trusting us that we will stay the best. Thank  you! It just motivates us to do more, faster…

We’d be interested to hear your view on this so leave a comment below or drop us a tweet at:

Bert Schulze (@BeSchulze ) and Sven Denecken (@SDenecken)

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