Anyone watching the news, reading newspapers, or looking online will have observed a class act. Ann Curry, long time resident on the Today show, has been reassigned. Previously, Ann had done news reporting until she moved up to the couch. She partnered quite well with Matt Lauer, at least that is what I thought. The reality may have been a little different.
Employee conflict is a reality. Managers need to develop the skill for knowing when and how to take action. Sometimes the conflict can work itself out, while other times the conflict is a bit more serious, and needs to be dealt with quickly and surgically. I am not privy to what happened on the set of Today, but a very nice person paid the price.
Whether Matt Lauer is a high Mach (Machiavellian), where he has no problem stepping on and over people, or a team player, the fact is Ann Curry was dismissed in a manner that was distasteful. If the reports are true that she will be paid $10 Million and given wonderful assignments, then more power to her. But if she was dismissed because that was the only way Matt Lauer would sign a new contract, I think it could of have been handled differently.
The fact is ratings for the Today show have slipped. Who’s fault is it? Lauer’s, Curry’s, Roker’s? I have my opinion. However, when performance begins to dip management needs to adjust. The Japanese have two words for this adjustment, Kaizen and Kaikaku. Kaizen is a word that means slow methodical change. Maybe you start with a different set design. Maybe you rearrange the furniture. Continuous Improvement is done in a manner that takes time. Kaikaku is a word that means Radical Change.
Sun Tzu tells a story about a man who wanted to be the general for an Emperor in a small kingdom. A larger kingdom wanted to take over his kingdom. The man told the emperor that he could organize his army in a manner that would ensure victory over the larger kingdom. The Emperor gave the future general a task, to get his wives (1,000 women) to walk in formation. If the man could get this task done, then the job as general would be his.
The man assembled the women in the courtyard and gave the order to get in formation. The women giggled and ignored the command. The man then asked the women who the number one and number two wives were. They identified themselves, and the man took them and cut their heads off in front of the other women. After this event the women got into formation and improved their performance.
If the overall performance of the employees on the Today show had slipped and Ann Curry became the scapegoat then she may be the number one wife who paid the price to get every one in line. But,15 years is a long time to be affiliated with a show, and Management needed to handle it accordingly.
If her dismissal is the result of Matt Lauer’s ego, then shame on him. Management should have made him work it out with her. But I have to wonder why Curry is dismissed after a contract negotiation with Lauer.
Another scenario may be that Curry was a fish out of water. If Management recognized that she was a little over her head, and worked to correct the hiring error, then good for Management. This may be the case, if the reports about the payoff are true.
Being a manager is tough. It is not an easy job. But being a dismissed employee who shows a lot of class when leaving, that is even more difficult. Ann Curry did what needed to be done. She is a class act.
And that is my thought for the day.