I am the assistant manager of a small team in the service industry. I recently lost my temper with an employee, Ed, for his failure to complete his work on time. I barked at him, in view and earshot of other employees and my manager, chastising him for repeatedly refusing my help earlier in the shift, when I was checking on his progress. Immediately after, he told my manager that he was quitting; later he expanded to say that he's been thinking about quitting for a long time, because he doesn't feel like he's fitting in or working to the same standard as everyone else, and that he dreads coming to work.
This failure to perform his tasks has been a consistent problem for me with Ed; every shift that I work with him involves my (calm!) close supervision, guiding, and redirection of his activity. He does not prioritize well. He often takes on tasks that distract him from his main, written, duties. I have been very frustrated with his lack of progress in self-directing. This kind of supervision is not my preferred style of management, and I also have a full load of shift work of my own. His occasional bristling at my redirection has been an additional burr for me. I want him to succeed, but I haven't been able to find the right way of coaching him.
Regardless of his history, I was obviously wrong to lose my temper, and I've apologized to him for that. On the other hand, I believe that the reprimand itself was entirely justified; it just wasn't delivered appropriately. My manager agrees on both counts.
This is a restaurant, and we're in the kitchen; although yelling, and sometimes outright abuse, is the norm in some of those, I and my boss don't want that kind of environment.
The problem is that Ed is well-liked: he's a friendly, helpful guy (as noted above, too helpful sometimes) and his performance problems were not particularly visible to the other team we have here. Thus, from their view it probably looks like I came out of left field, flew off the handle, and bullied a good employee into leaving.
So, to the inevitable question of "What the heck happened to Ed?" my preferred response would be "He couldn't deal with being told he wasn't doing his job". Clearly not politic.
What should my overall response be as a responsible manager who realizes he handled the situation badly, even if the outcome (Ed's departure) was inevitable? How can I publicly be accountable for my own action without taking the blame for his?