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Submitted by ajhoffman1021 on


I saw a news feed item from HBR on Friday titled "How Criticizing in Private Undermines Your Team".  While I understand the point the author was trying to make, it seems like it could also backfire and inadvertently pit team members against each other in a public forum.  I think that the MT feedback model is a better way to address these situations, as well as holding more efficient/transparent meetings that talk about specific deliverables and holding people accountable to them (both topics MT has several podcasts that I've gained valuable insight on).  Not sure if anyone else read this article but curious as to your take. 

I've attached a link to the article for those who may not have read it.

mattpalmer's picture

The whole tone of the article was one of "when you've made a mess of things, you should talk to your people like they're small children".  The example conversation in the second-last paragraph before the numbered list had me cringing -- it felt like an intervention, not a work-appropriate conversation.

Like you, AJ, I can understand the point that the author's driving at, but I can't imagine that dealing with it in the way he suggests is going to be effective.  Further, the article talks about someone who is *regularly* missing deadlines, and makes no mention of the efforts that a good manager would have been going to all this time to improve that situation.  My guess is that the hypothetical manager in the example did nothing for the first bunch of times, and then basically let poor Ted have it with both barrels in a team meeting.  Way to go, manager -- you just threw one of your people in front of the bus with the rest of the team watching!  "Pour encourager les autres" might have worked in the 18th century navy, but see how long your good people hang around these days after witnessing something like that.

Handling this situation in the MT style would be much different.  For starters, as I alluded to earlier, on every missed deadline, Ted would have gotten adjusting feedback.  Then if he was still missing deadlines after a few rounds of that, we'd be having a more in-depth discussion about how Ted can change his behaviours to ensure he hits his deadlines.  If Ted starts hitting his deadlines but causes problems for other team members, he gets feedback about that.  If he claims that others are the cause of his missed deadlines, he gets a brief lesson in owning the inputs.  When Fran, Alex, and Sheryl sigh and shake their heads when Ted misses a deadline, they get adjusting feedback, because they're tearing down the team.

I also ground my teeth a little when I read, "Since these meetings are the place for solving problems".  These meetings are for solving specific problems.  Shooting off on tangents about how to solve timeliness in a status meeting is the reason why every meeting needs to be an hour long, and those hour long meetings turn into two hour meetings, because people don't respect the agenda.

The cause of all this frustration?  "Roger Schwarz is an organizational psychologist".  Ah.  Not a manager.  No expertise power.  I recommend taking advice from people who have actually *done* the job, rather than those who have merely theorised about the job.  This is why MT is so powerful.