The Name and Shame Boss: What You Should Know


Public naming and shaming of employees that have not achieved satisfactory levels of expected performance is a tactic that may have been used by small businesses owners. The naming and shaming has taken the form of open criticism and public exposure of private information in company-wide group communications. One can unreservedly suggest that managing people one-on-one is the professional, mature approach that will serve all concerned more effectively. It will allow an employer to address concerns, identify barriers to optimal performance, provide training for skills gaps as needed, and ensure that employees are equipped to meet responsibilities and roles for which they are employed.

Public humiliation has a twofold effect:

  1. It puts the individual worker under stress and may lead to anger, frustration, resentment, and/or betrayal. The result is a guarded individual, not open to trying new things or ready to “walk.”

  2. It sends a clear signal to others that the boss knows how to threaten and even humiliate people; therefore, it builds distrust, reduces engagement, and discourages staff.

Many small to medium sized organizations often need people to be flexible with their position as well as their hours. This is due to an insufficient amount of people who efficiently meet all duties and responsibilities that is needed for success. This contrasts with businesses in which well-defined and strictly observed job descriptions, paired with an effective level of staffing, covers all areas of operation and activities.

Naming and shaming is an easy but immature approach to managing people. It is driven by inexperience in leadership and limited interpersonal skills. It is just one way of shifting blame for an inability to manage effectively and professionally. The boss’ responsibility for staff performance starts at the point of recruitment and onboarding. There are some basic things that the employer should ensure about a worker before hiring them.

The employee needs to:

  1. be qualified to do the job they have been taken on to perform;

  2. understand what is expected in terms of output/outcomes;

  3. be trained to deliver work in compliance with the quality of performance required by the job or assignment;

  4. be provided with the necessary tools, processes, products, and services that enable the worker to function successfully.

In the final analysis, naming and shaming as an approach to staff management will have an overall negative impact in most any organization. It will certainly be a bad experience for the individual being called out, as well as everyone else who is a party to the group communication or practice. Ultimately, if this practice is repeated often enough, there will be an ever-increasing pool of people who will become aware of this organizational culture of blame and shame. Needless to say, this will reflect poorly not only on the business owner but also on the business as a whole, diminishing goodwill and finally, the bottom line.

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