Kirk Muller’s speech, and why you shouldn’t try this at the office

Posted by Dan Barkin on March 19, 2014 

Kirk Muller dressed down his Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. We know this because it was done in front of our Canes reporter, Chip Alexander, at the end of practice at Raleigh Center Ice. Chip’s story did not carry the full transcript because we run a family newspaper.

Normally, Muller would have been addressing his players in a locker room, away from the ears of a reporter. But in this case, it was out on the ice.

This has been a frustrating season for the Canes, who will likely not make the playoffs. Muller’s future is uncertain.

I talked to Chip, and he told me that several times Muller appeared to look in his direction. If it registered on Muller that his audience not only included his players but also the N&O’s beat reporter, it didn’t slow him down.

I was intrigued by Chip’s account of Muller’s speech not only as a hockey fan but as someone who has supervised for 30 years. There are a couple of things I have learned about management:

1. Hiring is the hardest thing but also the most important thing. It is much easier to get good results with good people than to try to coach up mediocre people.

2. Chewing your staff out in public is usually not effective. The message gets lost, and all people retain is that they were told off publicly.

I worry that some young supervisor may have read Chip’s story and thought that the Muller technique would be a good way to shake up a substandard work group. It isn’t. There are some specific environments in which yelling might be appropriate. But in most situations it doesn’t work.

Better to get good employees. Or players.

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