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Ivan Popov

i was once an athlete. then a journalist. now i am a ceo of an iT company. still running marathons though.

Going Down the Rabbit Hole: Performance Punishment and Its Consequences

Have you heard of performance punishment? At first, this term may sound rather counterintuitive – how can performance, which is oftentimes considered a synonym for growth and development, be also connected with punishment, an action ultimately associated with negative consequences? Well, it’s not only possible but also frequent – especially in the business setting of professional experiences and careers.

Today’s article is situated around this topic in particular – under what circumstances do people sometimes fall victim to the trap of performance punishment in the workplace and what are some of the consequences that can follow shortly? As a CEO and a team manager, I’ve oftentimes thought about this phenomenon and have examined it closely – mostly out of worry not to push my employees down this rabbit hole. 

However, as I often like to say, information is an incredibly powerful precautionary method – let’s investigate the matter together and delve deep into the subject of performance punishment.

What’s Performance Punishment and Who Is Likely to Experience It?

performance punishment

In a nutshell, performance punishment is oftentimes a disastrous chain of events that follows after someone’s known for their high-performing capabilities and exceptional professional skills and slowly heading straight to burnout. 

We are referencing individuals who are so exceptionally good at their job that with time more and more tasks and duties are assigned to them, leaving them puzzled, tired and overwhelmed with time management. 

What’s more, oftentimes those individuals are granted more responsibility – the more flawless they are in terms of work execution, the more their managers see in them a person who is capable of doing anything. Of course, carrying an excessive amount of responsibility is simply a shortcut to stress and elevated levels of worry.

Another reason why professionals could fall victim to performance punishment is due to the fact that they are oftentimes excellent at being productive – once their management notices how good they are in terms of figuring out how to get all the work done, suddenly they become more and more overloaded with tasks out of the assumption that they would handle them properly. 

As you can see, it’s a slippery slope – if an employee is exceptional and ready to showcase their expertise, there’s a chance the management (consciously or not) would take advantage of their abilities and assign more and more tasks and duties. But should people “hide” their professional skills? Of course not – it’s the management’s task to not let performance punishment happen and think of other ways to distribute the workload. 

So once we’ve got the basics covered, let’s dig deeper into the subject and investigate all the following consequences.

What Are Some of the Consequences That Could Easily Follow?

Up until now, we’ve explained what exactly performance punishment is and who is the most vulnerable – exceptional doers and professionals are oftentimes targeted as a “one-man show” but soon after they are threatened to enter the pitfall. Subsequently, consequences follow.

Of course, the ones who experience the most consequences are the ones suffering from performance punishment – once an employee begins being overwhelmed, they are more likely to become stressed out and experience burnout. As we all well know, nothing good comes out of those emotions and conditions – sooner or later burnout takes its toll on people and there’s a high chance the ones suffering would seek sanctuary and salvation.

But when you come to think about it, performance punishment doesn’t affect only the exceptional professionals – the employees who are still not there yet in terms of their career advancement also face consequences simply because they are not given the opportunity to learn, adapt and acquire new skills. If the entire workload is destined to be executed by a handful of people, how are others supposed to elevate their professional performance?

And last but not least, the business management and the business in general also suffer from performance punishment – they face the risk of burning out their excellent experts while also undermining the rest of the staff. This may result in staff shortage and staying with workers who just don’t have what it takes in terms of task execution. Simply because they weren’t given the chance.

How Can This Situation Be Resolved Quickly and Effortlessly?

Essentially, self-aware managers who are excellent at managing people and projects would quickly see the situation for what it is and would come up with thoughtful strategies.

My advice for entrepreneurs and managers is this: once you stumble upon an exceptional employee, avoid granting them the entire responsibility and overloading them with millions of tasks. Instead, use their excellent time management skills and productivity to educate others – essentially, allowing them to lead teams is perhaps the best way to spread their talent and stimulate others to learn from the best.

Teamwork is perhaps the best way to build team spirit – this way employees are able to help each other grow and boost their infatuation with the work in question. So the best way to avoid performance punishment is by allowing everyone the opportunity to perform at their best level and climb the career ladder from there.


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