The Elements

By Judith Bowman   |   July 4, 2016

Workplace Putdowns Are Counterproductive

Categories: Business Model, Leadership, Performance Evaluation

The workplace is renowned for holding conventional team sales meetings wherein performance, achievement and sales numbers are publicly touted. When sales numbers are met and quotas exceeded, bells ring, horns blow, trumpets play and even obtuse exercises are ritually and merrily performed.

Key individuals are buoyed by the recognition, accolades and affirmations which are great but always short-lived, as reaching the next sales quota is always looming. Pressures are real and tensions run high, especially for competitive peers.

When sales goals are not met, and public affirmations turn to personal insults, disparaging remarks and character defamation in front of peers, managers need to recognize that this method of ‘motivation’ is counter-productive and can be demoralizing.

Criticizing a worker publicly for performance deficiency, unless done lightly with tasteful humor, is unprofessional, disrespectful and demoralizing. This approach can negatively affect worker’s attitudes toward their work, their regard for management and firm’s overall reputation may suffer, as well.

A healthy working relationship is based on mutual respect. Managers possess the opportunity to encourage and inspire and have a responsibility to lead and motivate. Managers do not have the right to bully. If there is an issue, managers should privately communicate concerns and seek to understand i.e. personal issues which may be affecting work performance – best to keep this conversation brief and not get too involved in worker’s personal affairs.

Public humiliation and fear do not motivate workers or generate good will and only serve to feed stress and embarrassment, disenfranchise workers and breed ill-will while depleting team spirit.

Public humiliation is not a healthy modus operandi for any company. Showing respect, use of humor and engaging the individual privately to discuss the issue is advised.

Managers: believe in your people. Treat them with respect and demonstrate support.

Sales professionals: have a thicker skin. Know you are ‘in the valley’ … everything in life is cyclical and your numbers will come around again. Acknowledge deficiencies. Have an Action Plan. Be prepared to outline how you plan to change numbers going forward and exhibit “Grace Under Pressure.” When you display confidence and don’t cave … when you exude the positive persona, “this too shall pass” … you allay managers’ fears and help avert public displays of angst.

No one is more aware of their performance and numbers than the sales person, themselves.

Bullying … and public humiliation is not inspirational, respectful or professional.


Judith Bowman
Business Protocol

Judith Bowman founded Protocol Consultants International in 1993 and has prospered to become an established Business Protocol expert, educator, corporate speaker, and renowned authority in the field of Professional Presence, Dining Savvy, International Protocol Awareness, and personal and professional development. Ms. Bowman also provides Protocol Certification. She is a graduate of Boston College and has pursued studies in Effective Business Communication at Harvard University.

Ms. Bowman speaks to critical interpersonal communication skills and shares specific nuances advantageous to exemplary conduct in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive global work environment. She showcases everyday business situations and shows professionals how to leverage these as opportunities to demonstrate respect while earning respect – while showing you know “the difference” while making a difference to stand apart and outclass the competition!

Ms. Bowman has authored two business protocol books: “Don’t Take the Last Donut…” (Career Press) presently sold in 16 countries, translated in 14 languages, and her new book, “How to Stand Apart @ Work …” She has authored a weekly Everyday Etiquette column syndicated throughout New England for ten years by the Pulitzer Prize winning Eagle Tribune Publishing Company. Internationally, she authored a Business Protocol column for the prestigious Noblesse Magazine, China. She presently writes a weekly Business Protocol column for Boston Herald newspapers and has a coordinating weekly radio segment, “A Protocol Moment” on Herald Radio.
She also writes a monthly Fabulous Woman series which features truly fabulous women who have shattered the glass ceiling and has been featured in Leader to Leader, March, 2015.

Bowman has produced a series of support products which include: Executive Etiquette/First Impressions DVD, DINING 101 DVD and Protocol Training DVD – from her on-line How to Stand Apart series.

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