Praise Publicly, Correct Privately

Remember Leadership 101? Okay, so maybe you never took a course with that title, but I am constantly amazed by how many people in the working world seem to show by their behavior they never even showed up for that class.

Yesterday I was waiting in line to be served at McDonald's (hold your jokes, please, about this Fortune 500 company. Also hold your jokes about my waistline. Or my gourmet sensibilities. Just hold all jokes, okay?). The restaurant manager, standing behind the two cashiers (who were waiting on customers) and yelled, "Does anybody know why Christine keeps leaving her register all the time?" Before she had finished yelling, Christine (not the real name) appeared, and I saw her try to address her boss quietly and explain she had been in the washroom. The boss didn't even meet her gaze, and walked away.

Now, look, I know that such passive-aggressive behavior as that manager displayed can be found everywhere. And maybe Christine is a total ninny. Maybe the manager had a point.

But it doesn't matter.

Lesson 1 (or close to it) in leadership is "Praise Publicly, Correct Privately." There are exceptions, of course, but as a general rule, there's good reason for it. All sorts of good reasons.

Praising an employee publicly reinforces the vision and mission of the company. It encourages positive behavior and results (unless you're showing favoritism).

Criticizing privately prevents embarrassment (or, in the case above, humiliation) and cultivates respect for you, the leader. It also gives the opportunity for explanation (sometimes, you'll learn while 'correcting' an employee that things weren't quite the way you thought they were, and correcting in private actually saved YOU embarrassment).

And NEVER just walk away when an employee is trying to apologize or explain. That's so rude and counter-productive, I don't even know where to begin.

Always try to remember: as a leader, YOU have to set the tone, and model acceptable behavior. If you are rude or dismissive of your employees, they will very likely go and do likewise...even to you.

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