3 min read

Warm Take: Managing Out

It's always because management has failed to act in ways that demonstrate that people's concerns have been heard.
Messy office! The backside of multiple computer terminals with piles of wire, yellow/black "Fallout Shelter" sign.
Messy Office, by Bill Bradford, CC BY 2.0

Even when someone is fired very publicly, many factors obscure many truths. Some things have happened in secret. Some things are never spoken, and exist only in the minds of people who influence events. Some information is kept private, for good and bad reasons -- or because of confusion, or incompetence.

If you're not superonline, or in media, you might have missed a story about...well, a series of questionable management decisions at The Washington Post that stretch back a few years, many of which involve reporter Felicia Sonmez, who was fired by The Post on June 10.

I never presume I can infer the entire true story of someone's ouster — especially when the story is about people I don’t know, in workplaces I don’t know.

So, while I will opine about what I read about Felicia Sonmez being fired, I cannot make a case about what actually happened.

Image of my tweet, linked to the image, basically story of Felicia Sonmez's firing gave me Anita Hill vibes.

I can, however, make a case about what happens in organizations when trust, communication – and sometimes process -- are broken. People “manage out;” they seek out support outside of the organization.

Many whistleblower stories start when someone, maybe naively, wants to to make positive change, and goes outside the organization for visibility and support. Managing out can also be a cynical acknowledgment of where the leverage really lies -- like every political leak that comes to mind. Sometimes, managing out comes from an impulse to burn the whole thing down.

When people manage out, it's always because management has failed to act in ways that demonstrate that people's concerns have been heard.

What an unfortunate mess.

A few things I've written on and around managing out

I'm gearing up for my Summer Reading issue – what are you reading? I'd love to hear your recommendations.  Or if you have questions, or suggestions for topics you'd like to hear from me on, please send me a note!

Thanks for reading this Warm Take, which I try to finish while I'm drinking my Sunday morning coffee. It turned out to take a bit longer today. There may be typos, and particularly inelegant turns of phrase, and despite my best efforts I won't see them until later...and then, I'll fix them on The Internet.

May you and your loved ones be safe, healthy and free,

Anne Libby


Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, head and shoulders, wearing that crown, with eyeroll and exasperated sigh