My critique seems resilient to this consideration. The fact that managers do not publicly criticize employees is not evidence of discomfort or awkwardness. Under the very obvious model of “how would a manager get what they want re: an employee”, public criticism is not a sensical lever to want to use.
I dunno, a fairly central example in my mind is if an employee or ex-employee says mean and (by your perspective) wrong things about you online. Seems like if it wasn’t for discomfort or awkwardness, replying to said employee would otherwise be a pretty obvious tool in the arsenal. Whereas you can’t fire ex-employees and firing current employees is a) just generally a bad move and b) will make you look worse.