Praise in public criticise in private 

That’s the received wisdom yet recently two very successful and high profile managers have publicly criticised their staff one going as far as to single out individuals. Was this a calculated man management strategy or a momentary lapse, a result of frustration, disappointment and the pressure to deliver? In one case it seemed like a conscious decision because it was repeated. In the second case the manager explained the controlled out burst as part of their straight talking personality, something he expected his staff to understand and accept. But should they and would they? 

Telling the media you’re disappointed in the performance of some of your staff, saying they must do better in the future, even apologising on their behalf for letting people down, is this going to motivate staff? Well maybe if they accept the criticism. If however they think they are taking the blame unfairly. 

What is surprising is that two such experienced managers would deliberately break this golden rule of management. Has it worked for them before? Yes but ironically only where their staff were totally loyal ,had absolute faith and were desperate to please. 

In one of the cases this approach back fired spectacularly, a demoralised and demotivated staff lost confidence in their ability and lost respect for the manager. In the second case we have yet to see how staff will respond. However I note this manager is now singing the praises of a new member of staff, some one who they worked with before thus being in danger of breaking the second rule of management, don’t be seen to have favourites.

Blair Mcpherson former Director , author and blogger 

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