We present a study of software practitioners’ de-motivators for software process improvement (SPI). The aim of this study is to understand the nature of the issues that de-motivate software practitioners for SPI, so that SPI managers can better manage these de-motivators. This study compares what the SPI literature reports as the factors that hinder SPI success with software practitioners’ perception of the factors that de-motivate them. Focus groups are used to elicit the perceptions of over 200 software practitioners. Our findings show that software practitioners confirm what the literature reports as the major issues that de-motivate them for SPI. These issues are related to resistance to change, lack of evidence, imposed SPI initiatives, resource constraints and commercial pressures. Our findings also show that there are differences in de-motivators for SPI across staff groups and that these differences are related to the role that software practitioners have in software development generally. We offer these findings as insight to aid SPI managers to design more targeted SPI strategies.