Monday, July 27, 2020

The Today Show: A Shining Example in Termination Failure

Ann Curry's abysmal dismissal at the Today show was handled so poorly that the public reacted. And they reacted by switching to GMA. News slowly leaked of how the network treated her. Stories about how Today Show employees mocked her clothing or her workplace gaffes emerged. Her last few months of full time work swelled with professional torture.

I am not advocating for Ann's job or position at the table. But the importance of effectively transitioning employees out of current roles (especially such visible ones) is a leadership lesson that can't be overlooked. Employees should not be publicly or privately humiliated. Being transitioned out of a role should be handled with dignity and respect. The business repercussions can be very costly.

And NBC has learned that lesson the hard way.

NBC clearly screwed up. The mismanagement impacts Ann but also its current employees, future employees, ratings and - therefore - bottom line. What message does her departure send to other employees? Is vying for an anchor desk worse the risk, ridicule and un-glorious termination? Would future employees choosing between ABC or NBC prefer ABC? Is this indicative of how NBA handles ALL employment issues - disrespectfully? Perhaps the employees are laying low but the viewers got the message. And they are showing their distaste for NBC by switching supporting GMA, ABC and Robin Roberts.

Since her "transition" she has rarely appeared on air. Brian Stetler chronicled the bungled departure in his new book: Waking Up on the Wrong Side of a Ratings War. Although, by his own admission, some of the information cannot be corroborated and was obtained surreptitiously, the main theme rings true by the very nature that Ann rarely conducts interviews any more.

According to Stetler's NY Times article: "For NBC, limiting Curry's exposure seemed wise. Her tear-stained departure from "Today" had become a public-relations debacle, deeply damaging the most lucrative franchise in television news. Just one day after Curry signed off, the advantage "Today" had over its top rival, ABC's "Good Morning America," turned into a 600,000-viewer deficit. Millions in advertising revenue vanished."


Being an "employer of choice" takes time and effort. Companies need to earn this status. Unfortunately, becoming an "employer to avoid" happens instantaneously in today's world of social media and instantaneous information sharing. Potential future talent avoids this company and current talent plots ways to leave. The damaged reputation proves difficult to repair. NBC is now seen as discriminating against female anchors and treating women poorly.

Unlike NBC, most employers pursue "best-in-class" career transition strategies for:

1. External Market Value Promotion: Maintaining company branding and market place integrity. Ensuring future employees apply and join by being an "employer of choice"

2. Protection of Future Business Opportunities: Establishing long-term relationships with former employees and potential future business partners

Internal Morale Booster: Promoting goodwill among current employees and executives

3. Leadership Pipeline Development: Continuing to attract, retain and motivate high performing employees

The lesson is clear for all employers: think through terminations and the process. When transitioning people out of the organization, engage consultants and conduct the transition respectfully. You only have one chance at success.

Source by Stacey Hawley

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