Praise in Public, Criticise in Private
Developing an instinct on how to work with people effectively
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. — Winston Churchill
A common theme in leadership advice is to praise in public while criticizing in private. It simply means that whenever positive results and behavior are evident, you should make sure peers in a team are aware of this as it sets a good example for future actions. Further, this encourages an employee to do as well as they did next time as praise is something that is undoubtedly valued by anyone.
On the contrary, criticizing behavior or performance should rather be done in private in a one-on-one setting. Being exposed to something which has potential for improvement in front of your peers can lead to a feeling of embarrassment and demotivation.
This heuristic when working with people is helpful, but it also doesn’t give you the full story at all times. Setting a good example in public is important, but so is clearly and transparently stating things that are not being done the way they should be. There needs to be an open dialogue about the things that do go well, as well as about the things that should be done differently. That’s why you need to develop a good instinct on when to share what feedback in which setting. However, following the general heuristic of praising in public and criticizing in private is a good point to start from.