How Not to Reprimand Someone

argumentSometimes it’s easier to learn how not to do things through your own experience, or watching someone else make a mistake. The other day I saw someone making a mistake, and it reminded me of the right way to handle similar situations.

Several of us were coming off of a shift where we had been striking a good sized show. The strike went fairly well, and even with a few obstacles to overcome, we had finished a few minutes early.

As we dropped by the main office to clock out the crew, made up of people who are not assigned to that property, was looking a bit worn. We were all tired. Most had been crawling over truss, wrapping cable and pushing cases.

This particular property has very strict guidelines for dress. It doesn’t matter what you were doing, you have to meet those guidelines. I knew this going in, so I took care to meet the expectations. Note everyone on the crew did. I also happen to know that the property had recently been cracking down on those who were not wearing the appropriate attire.

Hey, no problem. It’s their property, their rules. If I want to work there, I follow the rules. But not everyone on the crew felt the same way. More than one had on sneakers and shirts that did not meet the guidelines. The fact that we had just finished tearing down a set added to the rumpled look of some.

As I was clocking out I noticed two supervisors surveying the crew. They singled put one and began to reprimand him in front of the rest of us. It seemed to be a training exercise for an employee, with the others watching and coaching.

It was uncomfortable to witness. I assume, because I can’t think of another reason, that this guy was chewed out in front of the rest of us because they wanted all of us to hear the rules again. It was the wrong way to handle the situation. I know the employees was embarrassed, and likely to blow off the chiding. Those watching this unfold were not thinking about how much we needed to stay in dress code. We were thinking that these guys were total jerks for reaming out someone like this.

If you need to address concerns with an individual, that should be done with just you, the individual, and possible a 3rd party. Not in full view of coworkers. You call him aside or into another room.

If you need to bring an entire group onto the same page, then you address the group. You don’t’ dress down one guy in front of the group.

Handling it the way it was creates animosity between worker and supervisor. It does not demonstrate or earn respect. In fact, it makes me question their leadership more than want to comply. I will follow the rules because I know that is the expectation. I won’t follow them because of this poor example.

Was the employee wrong? Absolutely. The supervisors at that location had every reason to dress him down for his attire. But not that way.

I don’t know how the reprimand ended up because I left once done clocking out. I had no desire to stay. And nothing would be learned, nothing would be of benefit from witnessing the rest of that exchange.

The only good thing that came from this was that I was reminded of better ways to accomplish the same goal.