I am in the e-commerce Industry and the other day we had a meeting with an unsatisfied client. During the meeting, the client mentioned that a colleague of mine (present in the room) was not very cooperative, which was somewhat true.

At that point, our boss started to rebuke him in front of the client. My colleague was, of course, silent and defenseless, as he probably should be.

Is it ok for the boss to behave in such a manner in front of a client?

Personally, I felt it was wrong because it surely affects negatively to the teams morale, and respectively, it affects the image of the team to the clients eyes since the boss, in a way, openly confirms the clients claim of the team's weakness.

But that is from my perspective as an employee, so I suppose I am not that objective.

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    Just because it has a negative effect on morale does not mean it is wrong. With out more specifics on how the rebuke was handled it is hard to judge anyway. But you are asking for an opinion on your bosses actions, which is off topic on this SE. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 23 '16 at 16:22
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    Judging your bosses actions are purely opinion responses. It is similar to asking what did you think of a movie. This is a Q&A site not a forum. We seek questions that have definitive answers, like how to do something, or explaining why. We could probably guess at why your boss did that but I am sure you get it too. We just can not judge your boss for his actions it doesnt help anyone. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 23 '16 at 16:33
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    To give you an example, an answerable question could be "Should a manager rebuke a employee in front of a client that has complained about that employee?" – John Mar 23 '16 at 16:37
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    @JJChivers I'm sorry but I believe that even if the question is rephrased the possible answers would be the same. – xpy Mar 23 '16 at 16:49
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    In general terms praise should be given in public and reprimand in private. What is OK in this situation is going to be nuanced based on a lot of external factors that we don't have. Risk of lost business versus employee morale is going to be a tricky thing. – Myles Mar 23 '16 at 17:00

Like Myles said, generally praise is better in public while confronting is better in private. The only time confrontation might be done in public is if there's not a chance to do so privately in a timely manner (the sooner it is done following the observed undesirable behavior, the better).

Given the little bit of your story, it seems likely the manager could have (and if so, should have) at least waited until after the meeting with the client was over. But there may be more to the story we are unaware of.

What I do know is I've been on the client end as a customer in such a situation before - watching a manager reprimand his employee in front of me while they were trying to help me. It is VERY uncomfortable. I would think as a manager, doing such things is better in private anyway, for the sake of not making the client feel uncomfortable which could have the effect of losing that client.

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