Never Admonish the Entire Team
Leaders get frustrated like everyone else. When a team underperforms and engages in lazy or petty behavior, leaders will sometimes forcefully remind team members to buckle down and straighten up.
On occasion, when disappointment boils over, a leader can offer the entire team candid words or feedback through an email or lecture.
As a rule, this is an unusually bad idea.
Feedback delivered to the whole team almost always misses the mark and becomes viewed as offensive by those who are, and are not, guilty of the infraction.
Admonishing entire teams or groups is a boomerang to the face of the leader who does it. When leaders address feedback to the team as a whole, every team member sees the leader as accusing them directly. Those who had nothing to do with the violation, or don’t perceive themselves as contributing to the matter, take great offense at the accusation. They become indignant as they watch the finger pointed at them and draw a common conclusion: the leader is a jackass!
The snarky emails, replete with barbs and insults, that leaders sometimes send when admonishing the entire team are hard to ignore, and harder still to explain as temporary insanity. Instead, team members take umbrage at the missive and feel disrespected by the message. When a leader commonly uses email to communicate frustrations, a team can shut down and harbor longterm resentment. This is a pickle leaders can’t recover from easily.
The better idea is to never admonish a team or give group-wide feedback in any medium. Good leaders take responsibility for the failures and tribulations of the team, and offer personalized feedback in private settings. They understand that group settings magnify feelings of ridicule and humiliation. By avoiding public or group feedback in any medium, they reduce the likelihood of unknowingly insulting team members.
All good leaders know that if they fail to treat team members respectfully through their actions and messages, respect for the leader evaporates. Reciprocity shines in such moments. Disrespect always invites disrespect.