Praise in Public, Criticize in Private…Won’t Get You a High-Performing Culture

I talked previously about a business leaders need to “listen for values” and always be on the lookout for violations of them.

When I speak to groups of CEOs, I ask them the question, “when an employee violates a core value in a meeting with a group of their peers and yourself, should you as the leader call attention to it then and there, or wait until after the meeting to say something?”

The responses vary. Some believe that you shouldn’t criticize people in public because it undermines them in front of their peers. Others say it depends on the seriousness of the situation. The minority of leaders say that the appropriate response is to call it out.

I understand the justification for all those answers. But consider this quote. “The culture of an organization is shaped by the worst behavior a leader is willing to tolerate.”¹ If you fail to say something then and there, everyone around the table is going to perceive that you as the leader are tolerating that behavior. No one would ever know if you gave someone who violated your core value private feedback, unless you told them about it, which I don’t think is the right thing to do.

Adhering to Your Core Values

Yes, there are violations that are worse than others.  But depending on where you as the leader decide to draw that line as to what is acceptable or not, the culture you are creating may not be not one that you like. And the core values of your business are going to become words on paper, not behaviors that are meant to drive success in your business.

The trick is how to create this.

If you tell your team that “our core values are so important to the success of our business, that if I violate them, I expect you to tell me that. In return, when you violate the core values, I need you to be okay with that too. The success of our business depends on that. Do you agree?”

You have now set the stage with them to do so.  And you don’t have to be dramatic about it. And then move on. Ten seconds, no drama, point made, culture saved.

Do you want to learn more about how to make the core values of your business mean something and sustain them over time? Contact Andrew Rush arush@carpedia.com and book a 30-minute no charge consultation.

¹School Culture Rewired