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How to stop boss’s de-motivating ‘Group Scolding’

by on
in Your Office Coach

Question:  Whenever our boss is upset, he calls a group meeting and administers a general scolding. Since he is never specific, we are all left wondering who screwed up. To me, this approach seems immature and unproductive. If I make a mistake, I would rather be chewed out privately, not included in a public lecture that makes everyone feel bad. Our manager’s collective reprimands have sunk morale into a black hole. Any suggestions for dealing with this?  - Blamed for Nothing

Answer: Chastising an entire group for an individual performance issue is worse than a waste of time. It’s like lecturing everyone on punctuality because one person is chronically tardy. Nevertheless, some cowardly managers use this tactic to avoid uncomfortable one-on-one discussions. They fail to realize that the problem employee is invariably the one person who doesn’t get the message.

If your boss is open to feedback, try asking for a more personalized approach. For example: “When you’re upset with us, sometimes we’re not sure who actually made the error. If you could tell us about our individual mistakes privately, it would be easier to prevent them in the future.”

But if the direct approach seems too risky, just check with him after each tirade to find out if you’re part of the problem.

For an Office Coach checklist of other dreadful management habits, see How to Be a Lousy Leader.

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