Previously, I had written about “Managing Managers,” with particular reference to recommending mediation as a preferable means of endeavoring to resolving disputes between two or more managers: Kushner and Bannon being my focal point, a behavioral agreement being the desired outcome.

Other things being equal, which in the Executive Mansion they never are, I'd still advocate the same as I'd seen the process work in several governmental and private agencies. (And if it fails, it poses a legitimate document to pursue more stringent discipline, up to an including possible termination.)

The question arises: ”Why the need for documentation at all, when one has an employment-at-will situation?” The short answer being that concise, authentic, timely (contemporary) documentation is needed to ensure that there are objective, job-related and reasons consistent with business necessity to assure that the old bugaboos of impulse, personal animus, unlawful discrimination or illegal/unsafe orders or conditions are not significantly involved. (A person who has discretion to hire or fire should not abuse his/her discretion.)

A second short answer: Effective documentation may well serve the purpose of convincing its recipient that s/he needs to modify adverse behaviors (the mere giving of information itself may motivating). Further, if we are talking about an overall evaluative instrument, regular capturing of critical incidents may guard against fallacious intrusions---undue weight given to certain events, back-filling documents to cover one's anatomy or the physiological failures of one's body-politics policy aversions.

But, you've nearly forgotten to ask: What does this have to do with the POTUS Trump's terminations of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey? (The latter we'll recall, had a 10-year term, unless he were to resign of die. And my best recollection is that Comey did not resign; to the best of Comey's memory he did not die and he has notes to confirm it.)

Could the use of mediation by POTUS Trump have mitigated the termination of the former, Yates? Now you're asking the question, as you should. Napa Valley coffee counter discussions that have turned into klatchs have prompted such queries.

Answer: Pretending for an all-too-brief moment that the primary inhabitant of the Executive Mansion is not the POTUS, the Attorney General is a recognized professional who otherwise has every right to raise a professional objection within her province of abilities.

At some point, a warning of consequences should have been given her. A mediator and his/her sessions is by statute protected by confidentiality---another rare thing in D.C.--and arguably could have explained the process, positions and substance of issues to both parties.

Hypothetically speaking, the opportunity for an alternative approach (there usually are) could have been considered, breaking the template of the fantasy world of “The Apprentice,” “The Kardashians” notwithstanding.

With respect to FBI Director Comey, POTUS Trump should have neurologically consulted his Homer, especially the Iliad, to be reminded that following the unmasking of Petrolcus, the Trojan War lasted 10 years, as it may be with the ineluctable turmoil the unelectable Trump –who doesn't know an Achilles heel when it pierces his Nieman Marcus Welby stockings (Yup, no Nordstroms) -- has caused with his short-take, crash drives down the power grid of firings and systems disintegrations.

While Trump may not be aware that Hitler and Mussolini demanded personal loyalty oaths from their constituent colonels and above, the practice of attempting to extract such oath, (as may be done otherwise in the U.S. private sector), may well constitute violations of the U.S. Constitution. We are a country of due process, not due obeisance.

Having the newly appointed Assistant Attorney General Rosenstein review the extant file on Director Comey and at the request of President Trump, draft a letter in the form of an overall evaluation was clearly in error. My experience is that an evaluation document in and of itself is never sufficient in recommending the severe discipline up to and including termination of an employee — and this one was based upon paper assessment only.

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No one-on-one or other crucial conversations were held with the evaluatee. As far as reported, no contemporaneous notes, procedures or enforcement letters were attached. Further, he did not have the opportunity to elucidate or rebut the supposed damaging information in his file.

Rosenstein should be commended for officially complaining to the Administration that his intention was never one of recommending Comey's termination.

That both terminations were maladroitly handled and made public before the recipients had an opportunity to exit gracefully is despicable and disgraceful.

Bob Austin


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