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Public Praise, Private Criticism

Several weeks ago now, I was observing a sales meeting and was shocked by what I saw.

The VP of Sales for a mid-sized manufacturer brought his team in for a meeting. In the middle of the meeting, he began very publicly, very loudly, and very (in my opinion) inappropriately criticizing one of his salespeople.

She had failed to file some paperwork, which put the CFO's team behind in their reports. Because of my role, I was very familiar with the team. This was her first mistake like this. She was, by no stretch, the top rep. Nor was she the lowest performing one. Instead, she was a solid B-player. For some reason, the VP decided to vent his frustration at this poor woman.

This is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

First, it builds a great deal of resentment from the publicly criticized salesperson. She certainly didn't develop warm feelings toward her VP during his tirade.

Second, it encourages camaraderie among the sales team in an "Us vs. the Boss" kind of way. This is unproductive and can lead to big problems down the road.

Third, it completely mis-positions the VP as an angry man who can't control his emotions. As a result, he's certainly not seen as someone who will "look out for his team."

In short, sales leaders should provide praise in public and reserve their criticism for private meetings.

Do you agree?

- @JebBrooks