Morale Booster or Morale Buster

Après moi le Deluge
— Motto of the No. 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force,
perhaps best known for its dam-busting bombing raids during
Operation Chastise during the Second World War.

Dam(n) the Morale

largeLet me tell you…. It ain’t easy being an employee, particularly in the United States where you live and die by The Boss and his or her temper.

Mr. Abel Lenz, who worked for Patch, a part of AOL, learnt this the hard way when he ran afoul of Mr. Tim Armstrong, AOL’s CEO, on a supposedly morale boosting, all-hands call, where, unfortunately, Mr. Lenz happened to be one of the guys who were actually in the room with Mr. Armstrong rather than on the phone in a secure location, far, far away.

Courtesy of Mr. Jim Romensko (here) this is the transcript of the pertinent part of the call (you can access the audio here):

“Third thing is if you don’t use Patch as a product and you’re not invested in Patch, you owe it to everybody else at Patch to leave. If you think what’s going on right now is a joke, and you want to joke around about it, you should pick your stuff up and leave Patch today, and the reason is, and I’m going to be very specific about this, is Patch from an experience — Abel, put that camera down right now! Abel, you’re fired. Out! [Momentary pause.] If you guys think that AOL has not been committed to Patch, and won’t stay committed to Patch, you’re wrong. The company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, the board of directors is committed, I’m committed.”

What did Mr. Lenz do to deserve this execution in front of 1,000 of his colleagues? Well, we don’t know from the audio, but it appears that he was snapping pictures — something that he has apparently done before when he, in what I guess is a morale boosting gesture and for the benefit of the people who were not in the room, has published such snapshots on the company’s internal bulletin boards, which I assume exist precisely to boost morale. But who knows, perhaps that was not the whole story.

Regardless, Mr. Lenz is gone and the morale boosting was transformed to a morale busting.

P.S. If you have not heard about Patch, don’t feel bad. You are not alone. Patch (actually, Patch Media) is an an American local news and information platform, which maintain 900 local news sites. Recently, Patch has hit a bad patch(!) and it is now reducing the number of sites to 600. This bad patch at Patch could have something to do with Mr. Lenz’s firing as the company was founded by Mr. Armstrong and acquired by AOL in one of the first actions he undertook when he joined AOL as CEO in 2009, and, so, Mr. Armstrong was probably wound up pretty tight.

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