One of the few lessons I learned in all the years I held even minor management positions is basic to human psychology. People are inconsistent, emotionally. Not that most circumstances will reveal that, but when you push something it comes out. This is fundamental and in order to navigate life beneficently you need to understand this. You also need to understand the process of what I call Issue Transition. That is, you begin with a situation that constitutes an Issue. Depending on how you respond, the next step often becomes a completely separate issue. But because it stems from the initial issue, it can appear to be the same issue. If you don’t recognize that it is not, the next several steps will carry you so far from any possibility of resolving that initial issue as to define Sisyphean.
Why is this important?
Trump just dressed down his chief of staff. In front of an audience.
The one thing I learned, as mentioned above, is that you never, ever do that. If you’re going to chew someone out, take them to task over something, or otherwise express your displeasure with something they have done, you do it in private! You take them to a space where you can close the door and be alone. This is vital in human relations.
Why? Because if you do in front of others, you have just created a whole new issue, supplanting whatever problem you thought you were addressing in the first place. Because now you have humiliated that person in front of others, some who may be his or her subordinates who will have to work now with a damaged relationship. By upbraiding that person in public you have fractured their ability to retain respect. Either with their subordinates, certainly with you, and probably between you and their subordinates. By keeping it private, you have the best chance of keeping the issue on topic and resolving it. Sure, things could still go wrong, but you have not embarrassed them—or yourself—in front of others.
That embarrassment is a whole new issue.
And if you blithely go on as if it isn’t, the problems will compound.
Disciplinary action must be kept to a minimum. No audience.
This is basic, unless your intention to begin with is not discipline but to undermine that person’s ability to function effectively, thereby setting them up for further such moments in the future, leading to eventually dismissal.
It’s a good way to make people quit.
But it’s also a good way to cause people to retaliate.
If there is one thing that tells us this man is unsuited to being in the position he holds, this is it. He’s a lousy manager. This has been out there to be known all along, but in the private sector, while it can cause considerable collateral damage, we don’t usually see the entire country suffer as a result. That is no longer the case.
This is simple. You have an issue with someone, anyone, you take it up behind closed doors. Otherwise you will create worse problems which people will mistake for aspects of the same issue.
As for Issue Transition, we see examples of that all the time. Depending on our biases we may not acknowledge them as such, but there it is. It can be a very expensive blindness.