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By: Kathy Albarado on August 15th, 2013

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Public Firing: Outburst or Intentionally Making a Statement?

Communication | Total Rewards | Business Management & Strategy

you are firedAOL CEO, Tim Armstrong, has certainly been under scrutiny for his public firing of the videographer, Abel Lenz.  Is it actually the termination that has people upset, or the way in which he conducted it?

Employee performance has traditionally been known to be a topic that is not discussed in public.  It is not uncommon for staff members to appear to leave abruptly, yet managers more than likely have been having discussions with them along the way.  And although many managers believe employees should have a sense for the poor performers on the team, employees often are surprised when someone may be asked to leave.

From the statement, Armstrong makes it appear that he has previously coached and even warned Lenz not to record confidential conversations. Could he have halted the taping, and then returned to Lenz after the discussions and shared his message privately? Absolutely.

I have witnessed CEOs be intentional about a public firing. Some use it as a way to get everyone’s attention and make a statement throughout the entire organization.  Was Armstrong’s outburst intentional in that setting? Probably not, but the result was the same.