Why Keith Olbermann’s firing matters to the Cubicle Warrior

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jan 21

Keith Olbermann was fired from his Countdown show on MSNBC tonight. Of course, it is media and firings happen all the time. And, if you are not of his political persuasion, you might think that all of this is a good thing.

If you are into conspiracies, you might think there is no coincidence that Comcast had their purchase of NBC approved today and Keith got fired after the approved deal. NBC spokespeople say no cause and effect relationship, but I’ve watched corporate spokespeople for too long to believe what they say. I’m not a conspiracy theory person; the fact is, Keith was fired today for whatever reason.

But whether depressed, happy or indifferent about the firing, this is true: Keith’s firing shows all of us that our employment is at the whim of management. You can lead the network in ratings, you can bring on other great talent to build out a block of great shows — and none of that matters.

You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or bought by the wrong company. Or you completely misjudged how long your position will last. Just because you are great at what you do, produce great results for the company, and bring up the level of work across the team — none of that matters. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, none of it matters. None of it matters.

The lesson for Cubicle Warriors is simple: there is no job security. There is only employment security. If you haven’t figured out how to get employment security, you are no better off than Keith — except he probably can wait out getting another job because he makes way more money than you or I. That probably keeps desperation away for a while.

Of course, what do you think Rachael Maddow, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell are thinking tonight? Just like the team who survived the layoff while watching you walk out the door, they are wondering if they are next. They wonder whether their results and their work really matter to management. You know,  just like us when people we know in our company — people we respect for their work — get laid off and shown out the door.

There is no job security. There is only employment security.

Only through employment security can you fight back against the people and circumstances that try to control your success in your work. Only through employment security can you decide a job isn’t right for you any more and know that you have the skills to find something better. Only you can figure out how long a job will last using your best judgment and then taking action to keep yourself employed.

Only you can decide.

Before someone decides that for you. Like they did with Keith.

How much job security do you think you really have? And wouldn’t it be better to have employment security so you were not dependent on the whim of management for your income and financial security?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.