Further Information

We endeavour to answer all enquiries within 24 hours on business days.

Find Us

16 Tarlton Court
Vaughan, Ontario
Canada L4J 3H7

Email Us


Phone Support

Phone: 416-877-4688

Building Resilient Leaders: Mitigating the Risks of Over-Performance Punishment

  • By Sheldon Kawarsky
  • August 9, 2023

Over-Performance Punishment

As an employer, it’s important to cultivate resilient leaders who can inspire their teams and drive company growth. However, the pressure of performance expectations can easily be overwhelming, leading to over-performance punishment. This environment can damage morale, deplete motivation levels, and reduce collaboration among team members—all of which affect short- and long-term productivity.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how you can mitigate the risks associated with over-performance punishment such as employee burnout and reduced job satisfaction, by providing leadership training for managers so they stay motivated during challenging times.

What Is Over-Performance Punishment?

Over-performance punishment is a relatively new concern in the modern workplace and is something employees and managers need to be aware of. Essentially, it refers to the idea that employees who exceed their targets or perform above and beyond what is expected of them can be punished for doing so. Organizations often use performance metrics to evaluate employee success and job performance. However, when an individual exceeds these goals, over-performance punishment may be implemented.

This might seem counterintuitive, but the evidence suggests that it can lead to serious problems such as employee burnout and a lack of motivation.

The Root Cause of Performance Punishment

Performance punishment can be a frustrating experience for employees, often resulting from deeper issues within an organization. One method of identifying and addressing these issues is using the SEEDS model.

This innovative approach stands for Systems, Environment, Expectations, Decisions, and Supports. By examining each of these elements in detail, businesses can uncover the underlying causes of unfair punishment and work to prevent it from happening in the first place. Whether it’s a lack of clear expectations or inadequate support systems, the SEEDS model empowers businesses to take a proactive approach toward maximizing performance and creating a positive workplace culture.

Recognizing the Signs of Over-Performance Punishment

Many employees consider it a given that their hard work will always be rewarded, but this isn’t always true. As a manager, it’s important to look for these signs that might lead to performance punishment in your employees:

  • Unreasonable Expectations: One of the most common signs of over-performance punishment is when an employer sets unreasonable expectations for their employees or expects employees to work long hours without additional compensation.
  • Unfair Criticism: Unfair criticism includes criticism that is not based on facts or evidence, or that is overly harsh and does not consider any mitigating circumstances.
  • Micromanagement: Micromanagement occurs when employers excessively monitor their employees’ work, often making decisions or providing guidance on completing tasks. This type of behaviour can create an atmosphere of distrust and resentment between employers and employees. 
  • Unclear Goals and Objectives: When employers fail to provide clear goals and objectives for their employees, this can also be a sign of over-performance punishment in the workplace. Without clear direction, it can be difficult for employees to know what is expected of them or how they should prioritize their tasks. 
  • No Recognition for Good Work: When employers fail to recognize good work or reward outstanding performance from their employees, it sends the message that no matter how hard you work, your efforts will not be appreciated. This can lead to decreased motivation and engagement among team members. 
  • Lack of Resources: It makes it difficult for employees to do their job effectively and efficiently when employers do not provide adequate resources such as training opportunities, tools, task delegation, or support staff. 
  • Unfair Treatment: Unfair treatment, such as favouritism towards certain individuals or groups within the organization or unfairly assigning blame when something goes wrong instead of acknowledging everyone’s contributions equally, can be a sign of over-performance punishment.

How Over-Performance Punishment Affects Organizational Growth

When penalized for doing exceptional work, employees may be less motivated to continue striving toward excellence. Instead, they may feel stuck in a cycle of mediocrity, which can limit innovation and creativity within an organization. Below are some other ways performance punishment can affect organizational growth:

  • Loss of skilled and experienced employees
  • Diminished employee morale and engagement
  • Lack of innovation and risk-taking
  • Reduced collaboration and teamwork
  • Negative impact on employee well-being
  • Impaired organizational learning
  • Missed opportunities for improvement
  • Negative reputation and employer branding

How Resilient Leaders Can Help with Over-Punishment Performance

Effective leadership is essential to mitigate the over-punishment of subordinates. Resilient leaders possess the crucial skills for managing a team, are empathetic, possess emotional intelligence, and have people management skills. They can also mitigate the risk of over-performance punishment by:

How The Soft Skills Group Can Help to Develop Resilient Leaders in Organizations

Developing resilient leaders is crucial for any organization to thrive and succeed. One way to achieve this is by providing leadership soft skills training. The Soft Skills Group (TSSG) offers a wide range of in-person and online soft skills training for employees that highlight how communication skills, decision-making, stress management, and skills for managing a team can lead to the development of stronger leaders.

Not only does this training benefit leaders, but it also supports employees in their efforts to overcome common challenges like time management and team communication to improve productivity and collaboration. With a focus on leadership training and the cultivation of essential soft skills, The Soft Skills Group offers a unique approach to building a more resilient organizational culture.

Contact us today to book your spot and learn how we can help you mitigate the risks of over-performance punishment in your workplace.

Sheldon Kawarsky

Sheldon has over 20 years of experience holding manager and director roles in the private and academic sectors, focusing on business development and fostering relationships with companies, universities, government organizations, and venture capitalists. His strength is in relationship building and clarifying the needs of clients to ensure their training maximizes their return on investment.