Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, recently fired an employee while conducting a conference call with over a thousand employees listening in. The employee, Abel, is instructed by Armstrong to, “put that camera down right now,” and quickly following, “Abel you’re fired. Out.” The employees listening in were Patch.com employees, an AOL news site with suffering revenues and consequential cutbacks.
Listening to the recording it seems that Abel wasn’t permitted time to respond before being fired. Maybe he made an expression to which Armstrong took offense. Maybe he snapped another picture. Regardless of the multiple versions that will surely ensue Armstrong had a certain interpretation and in his position of power reacted.
Based on our perspective – employee in the ranks or senior management – we’ll have our opinion. We’ll be astonished that Armstrong so swiftly and definitively altered the life of an employee in such a public manner. Or we’ll understand the impulse as a manager imbued with a level of responsibility and pressures that those in the ranks do not know. Either way there’s a reason the clip went viral – it’s outside of our expectations.
We expect to be treated with dignity and respect. We expect our employers and colleagues will be honest with us. We expect to be rewarded for a job well done. We expect that we matter as individuals.
What we should reasonably expect is that everyone around us has the same expectations that we do, which inevitably means it’s only reasonable to expect the unexpected.