You already know to scold employees in private. You don't want to embarrass them at the same time that you're criticizing some aspect of their performance.
But reprimanding in private doesn't excuse you from speaking diplomatically. If you make stinging accusations or launch verbal attacks, the employee will react defensively rather than take your input to heart.
To express your concerns in blunt yet palatable language, follow these tips:
1. Frame the topic. Rather than just dive in and start criticizing, start by setting the stage. Say, "I'd like to discuss an aspect of your performance that needs improvement. My goal is to make you aware of a problem so that you can take steps to fix it."
2. Be clear. If you're nervous about issuing a reprimand, you might muddy your message. This can cause confusion and misunderstanding.
To ensure you're clear, summarize the issue in one sentence. Use phrases such as, "When you [describe action], it creates problems such as [cite repercussions of undesirable action]" or "Because it is not acceptable in this workplace to [describe action], let's discuss what you can do to rectify that."
3. Express faith in the employee to improve. Even if you privately question whether someone will comply with your directive, don't say so. Instead, convey your confidence in the individual to step up and implement a solution to the problem.
4. Engage in a dialogue. You want the employee to feel comfortable opening up about concerns, questions or obstacles he or she might face. Ideally, the worker will respond to your reprimand by probing to determine the best way to respond and likely alternatives to behave more appropriately in the future.