13 Workplace Motivational Tactics Once Popular That Would Be Considered Toxic Today

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While discipline is the bedrock of a successful life, everyone needs motivation to get going. Motivating employees in the workspace is an excellent way of encouraging and appreciating their efforts. However, not all of them have stood the test of time. This ranges from blaming them instead of seeking proper solutions to guilt-tripping them for their mistakes. Here are 12 workplace strategies that would be considered toxic today.

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Public Shaming

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The threats and fear of public shaming have dwarfed the growth of many, be it in schools, colleges, and even workplaces. Individuals are put under immense pressure at the risk of being humiliated in front of their colleagues with whom they interact daily.  This immature tactic instills fear so workers would do their tasks more sincerely. It soon backfired, and many workers suffered from anxiety, stress, and psychological issues that hindered their personal lives.

Hustle Culture

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Extreme work culture or hustle culture is still a booming trend that has received a lot of criticism for glorifying countless hours of work. Being pressured to work many hours, leading to burnout, exhaustion, and unhappy employees, is unacceptable. This harms their personal lives, disrupts the balance between work and family, and reduces productivity. This negative encouragement fails to ensure long-term success, leading to lower turnover and reduced performance.

Fear-based Management

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Working under the constant stress of being fired will only stifle your creativity. Threats of punishment, salary cuts, or job losses will always linger around the corner, causing anxiety and stress. Innovation and new ideas will be hindered, as the room for risks will be closed for safer results. Such tactics only foster a culture of doubt where the psychological safety of the individual is discarded.

Forced Comparisons

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Setting up a chart for the “employee of the week” is a trend that may be accepted to appreciate workers who put in extra effort. However, when forced comparisons and rankings are made among employees to put them against one another, squeezing out those extra hours often leads to unhealthy competition. The employees would not compete with themselves but try to outperform the high-performing employees. The failure to catch up to them will only lead to discouragement, demotivation, and a toxic environment.

Unrealistic Deadlines

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Setting deadlines is an excellent means to increase productivity and hold employees accountable if they do not work. However, assigning impossible tasks and setting unrealistic deadlines to motivate employees on their failure will only lead to increased frustration and resentment. To meet these deadlines, employees often rush through work that is substandard and of lower quality. On the contrary, giving more time to employees in some cases will lead to increased trust, motivating them to work smarter.

Unpaid Overtime

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Companies sometimes expect employees to stay back and work beyond work hours to prove their commitment. Overtime without any additional compensation is subjected to workers, leading to a sense of exploitation and resentment. Dedication towards the company is always great, but expecting employees to cut down on their personal lives impacts their overall well-being. Long-term effects of such harmful practices include dissatisfaction, increased turnover rates, and higher stress levels.

Gender Motivational Techniques

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Women’s empowerment and gender equality have led to better work conditions for women and equal opportunities. Previously, gender motivational techniques that subjected women to stereotypes, assuming that they were not cut out for challenges, was a common tactic. In an attempt to boost productivity, these harmful associations and comments reinforce bias that limits the candidate’s potential. Modern society focuses on the task at hand regardless of the gender of people dealing with the task.

Constant Monitoring

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Constant monitoring refers to frequent interventions on employees, indirectly urging them to work harder. This practice leads to a lack of trust, where the employees feel they are under constant surveillance. This constant scrutiny prevents employees from being themselves, believing their contributions are not appreciated. Instead of such practices, open communication would be a more excellent way of building trust and accountability, where the employees are made to self-manage and prove themselves.

Blame Culture

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Blame culture, as the name suggests, is a motivational tactic that involves pointing fingers at employees and assigning fault instead of finding solutions. The employees who have given their all and worked hard are held accountable instead of discussing the areas where they lacked. This creates an environment where the employees hesitate to give their opinion as they fear it would bring losses for the company. Moreover, to play safe and stick to the books, innovation and the scope for learning are damaged.

High-Pressure Sales Tactics

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Targets in sales are always hectic, but ensure that employees give their all to work for the company’s growth. High-pressure sales tactics demand that the deal be closed regardless of what the customer seeks or if the product aligns with their needs. This leads to the customer being harassed by the employees, who in turn get harassed by their bosses for not bringing in immediate sales figures. Honest communication helps understand the customers’ needs that may lock them in as a prospect, earning their loyalty.

Reduced Breaks and Holidays

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Everyone needs a little time for their meals or holidays to rejuvenate themselves from the daily hassles of life. Reducing the work hours and holidays to push employees towards working harder enforces rigid schedules, sending them a message that work is more important than their health. Employees become disengaged and feel betrayed, impacting their effectiveness and results. Providing days where employees can opt for holidays or giving them suitable breaks during work hours will be beneficial in redirecting focus and letting them recharge.

Public Praising

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While public praise was once considered a great motivator, it is now avoided due to its nature, which also demotivates other employees. When managers praise someone publicly regularly, other employees start going too hard on themselves to meet expectations and work towards unrealistic standards. There is also the underlying hostility factor when employees feel unbalanced public praise and their efforts are not recognized. Appreciating both individual contributions and team success is the key to balancing public and private praise to motivate employees.

Guilt Tripping

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There is no difference between evoking a person’s guilt and manipulating them to work harder and put in extra hours. Replying to such a toxic practice by guilt-tripping employees about their past mistakes or losses of the company will erode trust. Employees feel obligated and burdened to work when personal commitments cannot be prioritized due to the guilt constantly being brought to the surface. This manipulative tactic of unfair workload is now avoided, and healthier practices revolving around mutual respect are upheld.

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