AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong recently earned notoriety when he inappropriately and tactlessly referred to two employees and their personal situations during a company global Town Hall as the reason why the firm needed to re-design its 401K and healthcare benefits.
During the meeting with employees to clarify the planned changes to those 401(k) contributions Mr. Armstrong declared,
“Two things that happened in 2012... We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born... that we paid amillion dollars each to make sure those babies were OK in general. And those are the things that add up into our benefits cost....”
That comment hurts. Despite any accuracy or validity, from a leader’s standpoint he shouldn’t have said it. It’s painful to those individuals identified, and it’s just as hurtful to fellow associates.
But, he didn’t end it there. As Dan Munro wrote in his Forbes article, AOL’s Armstrong appeared on CNBC, and “in an attempt to explain recent changes to AOL’s 401(K) employee matching contributions” – Mr. Armstrong said the following:
“We have to look at our benefits programs very seriously. As a CEO and as a management team we had to decide, do we pass the $7.1 million of Obamacare costs to our employees? Or do we try to eat as much of that as possible and cut other benefits?”
This is an example of a CEO is politicizing a situation, another risqué move. These remarks lower the respect level of that figure of leadership and immediately spread an aura of mistrust and toxicity. Why would any employee want to work for leadership that takes personal situations and recklessly and inappropriately shares it – proving insensitive and offensive?
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