How to address concerns in the workplace

During my time in the work-place, I’ve witnessed the ‘spray’ at all levels: staff meetings, management get-togethers, and locker rooms. 

This is where the boss addresses the entire group with a generalised outburst on what’s wrong and how it needs to be fixed.

As a young manager, I have been guilty of this on many occasions. It was because it was easier…not as personal and far less confronting.

More recently I’ve noticed this this occurring via email – where the entire corporate email group is the recipient.

However, this practice is almost always counter productive.

Let’s say there is a concern with a few people coming in late to work in an organisation. Giving everyone a ‘spray’ about lateness and how it’s unacceptable can be quite ineffective and harmful.

The primary issue is that the message is very likely to be misunderstood.

The people you are trying to target may quite easily ignore the dictum thinking it’s not meant for them as they are “only a few minutes late”.

There is also the risk of the people who are sensitive and over-react – despite being punctual they may believe their attendance is not adequate.

More importantly, the entire team is demoralised on account of one or two.

Regardless of what team environment one manages, it is imperative that the non-performance of one or two individuals is addressed directly rather than in general.

Even here, wherever possible, it must be done face-to-face.

Context is critical.

For only when an authentic conversation takes place can one understand the intent and reasons for people’s behaviour. It may well be possible that someone is unpunctual because of a sick child, an ageing mother or difficult relationship.

A simple rule of thumb with addressing concerns is face-to-face meeting or at worst with a phone call – never by email or worse text – and definitely not to the group.

A seemingly obvious practice but one that is often ignored in today’s digital world.


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