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Too Many Employees Can Relate To How Comey Was Fired

Everyone is talking about the Comey firing this morning.

Was he really fired while he was giving a speech? Did news of his firing really flash across a screen behind him while he was speaking, and he thought it was a prank? Ouch. Why wasn't he fired in person? Why does it suddenly feel like a flashback to June 1994 again?**


In all seriousness, the manner in which FBI Director James Comey was fired yesterday could be sending U.S. employees into flashback mode, remembering the time they were fired by management in the most impersonal way possible. Maybe they were fired by voice mail. Maybe they were fired by email, a social media post, or text. Maybe they came to work one morning to find the door locked and their badge no longer worked. Maybe their box of personal belongings was sitting on the front desk.

I'm leaving politics out of this post (PS: resist) to focus solely on the way Comey's dismal dismissal was managed. How he was let go from his job represents the very worst of modern-day, MBA management. No warning. No privacy (Comey was fired in front of colleagues). No personal touch. No respect for the employee's years of service, or level of experience. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, buddy. Buh-bye.

Status: You're Fired
I don't want to sound like I'm dissing everyone in the MBA management class; there are many great CEOs and managers out there who will still dismiss employees personally, face to face, when this dreaded step must happen. They dig deep to find the courage necessary to face one of the hardest parts of their job instead of hiding behind hedges, email, phone calls, voice mail messages, social media posts, or third-party consultants who don't look anything like George Clooney.


Simply know that you are not alone if reading about Comey's firing takes you right back to that moment in your career when you listened to that voice mail, received that email, read that text, glanced at that social media feed, discovered that your ID badge was no longer working, found your box of personal belongings sitting in the reception area, or felt the cautious gaze of a security guard before being escorted out of the building like some sort of criminal.

We're watching highly-impersonal, MBA-style business management tactics applied to top government positions, and it isn't pretty. Maybe this story will re-open a much-needed discussion regarding the impersonal nature of employee firings in the 21st Century, or maybe not. All I know is that I'm having some flashbacks to the job losses of 2009 this morning.

** The day of the OJ freeway chase was my first day of an internship at a Seattle TV station, where I answered the newsroom phone. It was ringing off the hook. Every caller was upset...about how this live car chase was interrupting "Wheel of Fortune." They demanded -- demanded! -- to know when tonight's episode of "Wheel of Fortune" would be re-aired. That was the moment I decided a career in TV news wasn't for me. Internships can be very useful in also determining what we don't want to do for a living!


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