How NOT to fire someone

The article

This article is representative of a genre. I will not call it fake news but rather “half news”. And I want to say why. And why it’s dangerous. But note that it’s under the “All the moms” section of USA Today, so every momma bear will have her hackles up to begin with.

The players:

Crystal Fisher – mother
Dawn – her boss
PS Food Mart (aka Folk Oil) – a company with 35 gas stations/convenience stores in the midwest USA.

In summary and at first blush this sounds like the actions of a rogue manager – Dawn – at one of the franchise “outposts” of the company. She didn’t know what she was doing, and it does sound like there was prior history with Crystal, the mother. So she may not even have believed Crystal?

So in part, fault likes with corporate PS Food Mart for not spelling out policy. This manager was clueless and was acting in a fear-driven way. An environment that discourages communication with headquarters only allows for good news (or at worst, business news, good or bad) to flow up. So Dawn may well have thought it was her job to just deal with this, cutting Crystal off to keep her franchise going. Texting is the worst way to communicate during times of crisis; Dawn should have known that her words would both hurt and stick. It is a leap to say that this was the first time the two communicated like this. But it became the final time.

At some places I’ve worked there are unwritten policies about this kind of thing. And at others, full-fledged long-term programs for life’s lingering emergencies. I can recount only a couple people EVER who took advantage and overstayed their leave.

Also, in my experience, despite official corporate communication, the firing of Dawn could be less about actual compassion or care for employees as a CYA move to eliminate lawsuits or simple PR to keep PS Food Mart/Folk Oil from looking bad. Individuals don’t matter in those cases; it’s all about the perspective of the public. Or PS Food Mart might indeed care and now establish policy. We won’t know because of the quick burn of the news.

Now, also, Dawn may indeed just been an uncaring despot, which the article would inspire. But that’s NOT a given. If true, a boss that pulls the plug on mourning, care for one’s loved ones or disability-driven absence does not deserve to lead people; that person simply has too much to learn. If that person’s manager allows that behavior, s/he will sacrifice a whole lot of good people who will either leave or just become less productive because who wants to work for someone who hasn’t got your back?

But USA Today/New York Post and any other media company reporting on this didn’t care about balancing things; they only wanted viral circulation, which makes them more money. At people’s expense. Dawn may well be a good manager who did her uninformed best, but good luck finding work now.

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Authoritarianism and the tribes

First, my take on things – Donald Trump’s communications are juvenile and narcissistic. He is not alone in his use of fear to gain and keep in power. He has used xenophobia to get elected, those on the left have used plutophobia. The hatred directed towards him does not come from a vacuum, but it has almost completely ruined what might otherwise be a reasoned, effective platform in opposition. I do not hate the man myself; his job as President is neither without merit nor failure.

This video was made to resist him and those like him. As such, it cannot be accurate or fair; it doesn’t WANT to be. Here are its points with some balance:

1. Controlling the free press – neither the left nor right press is free at this time. The left is blindly driven by hatred for one man and is practicing creative writing which it will continue to unless and until it finds some accusation, some conspiracy that has actual evidence that sticks and it achieves its goal of getting the man out of power. It is not interested in the truth, not now. On the right is an equally misdirected group bent on attack ITS political foes at the expense of the truth. Editorials have been masquerading as front page news for a long time now but people don’t seem to know or care about the difference.

2. Blaming minorities – the right blames the poor minorities, the left blames the rich minorities. Each has a playbook, both are inaccurate and intentionally misleading so as to keep the crowd in contempt disguised as unity. It works because of the pain of the masses, not because of the power-madness of a despot. The spectacular yet spotty crimes committed by individuals within the group being hated are generalized towards the whole group. Arabs are all terrorists, rich people are all exploitative misers. No one is going to be concerned about starving, disenfranchised rich people, but the tribal dynamics are the same.

Using force against protesters on the part of the feds and under the direction of the tyrant just hasn’t happened. It is so fanciful to play the Hitler/Nazi card but no, this isn’t that. It just isn’t.

3. Reading political defunding as way to gain control is fanciful. For the right’s dismissal of judges and watchdog groups – the former of which happens no matter who is in power – the left declares war on military spending. One could read diabolical motives into both. If one had time to waste. I do not think there is any current lack of investigation of internal activity. Just lack of results.

4. Loyalty over competence? All leaders need both so the dichotomy is contrived. But then the whole scare nature of the video has to do that, make parallels with real tyrants to get motivate its tribe.

5. Elections that have no chance of bringing change? Sounds like a frontal attack on the system to me.

6. Nonviolent resistance – all you want. Good idea. For those protesting pipelines, actions against immigrants or abortions or same-sex marriage. If there is violence, it comes from as many sides as the protests.

7. The ACLU is a good idea; but it has become selective in what civil liberties it fights for.