Praise in Public, Correct in Private

I rode my bicycle down to the corner coffee shop this morning, my favorite mode of exercise (it’d be good exercise too, if it weren’t for those damn scones).  A leisurely cup of coffee at an outdoor table, reading the book and movie reviews in the latest Tucson Weekly, makes for a great morning.

But not today.  While I waited at the counter for my coffee, the owner of the coffee shop started in on a couple of his employees.  They had screwed up someone’s order, but instead of just telling the kids what they’d done wrong, the owner loudly berated them, talking down to them in a really nasty way.  Apparently he kept at them; sitting at my table later I heard other patrons talking about the scene the owner was making inside.

Not an exact depiction of events (but close)
Not an exact depiction of events (but close)

In business and the military, a basic tenet of leadership is to praise in public and correct in private.  No one likes to be corrected, but to be corrected in front of others . . . especially in front of outsiders who have no connection with the issue at hand . . . is humiliating.  Does the coffee shop owner think these kids are going to have his best interests at heart after the way he treated them this morning?  If he does, he’s a fool.  But maybe he digs on humiliating underlings and doesn’t really care what the consequences may be.

I’m surprised those kids didn’t walk.  There’s a McDonald’s and a Subway right next door, and the wages are probably comparable.  Are jobs so scarce these days they don’t dare walk?  Now that’s a depressing thought.

The robber barons are determined to eliminate the American middle class.  They stole our savings, gambled away our pensions, cut our wages and benefits, and are well on their way to dismantling the few remaining unions.  What if it’s not just about putting more money in their own pockets?  What if it’s also about subjugating people?

Rise up, working men and women . . . before it’s too late!

© 2009, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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One thought on “Praise in Public, Correct in Private

  • I witnessed this very thing years ago at the McDonald’s in Glasgow. I was mortified for the young girl, who dropped the F bomb on me once the manager walked out of earshot. Her comment was “I f***ing hate this job.” I can only hope she didn’t spit in my food because I had witnessed her humiliation. I wish I’d thought enough to tell the manager how inappropriate I found her behaviour, and that I’d cancelled my food order and left.

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