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Is Twitter Trump’s New HR Tool?

by Zia A., posted 6 months ago
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Who remembers the good old days when The Donald used to get a kick out of uttering these two words at the end of every episode of The Apprentice?

Trump Twitter

Well it seems that last month, the 45th President of the United States graduated from “old” media to social media when he fired U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over Twitter. Yep, you read that right folks, on March 13th @realDonaldTrump tweeted,

Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!

Trump Twitter

News outlets quickly began reporting on the tweet, especially when they discovered that it was not only the way the world discovered that Secretary Tillerson had been replaced but the way Tillerson himself found out. #HRfail

Trump Twitter

This wasn’t the first time the President had publicly fired a high-ranking member of his administration without a heads up (that came late last year when former FBI director James Comey learned of his firing while delivering a speech), but it was the first time he did it via Twitter. And, while a lot of people quickly became interested in the “why” of the matter (with many sources reporting “months of simmering tension” between POTUS and the Sec) we were more interested in the “how.”


How Does Someone Get Fired on Twitter?

So what happened behind the scenes? Did President Trump really not call Secretary Tillerson to deliver the bad news, at the very least, over the phone? Apparently not. A report from the Associated Press revealed that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Tillerson a few days before and told him to watch out for a presidential tweet about him. Kelly didn’t say when the tweet would be posted or what it might say, only to keep an eye out. Four days later, Tillerson returned home from an official tour of Africa to find out he was out of a job.

Two senior department officials said Tillerson received a call from John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, on Friday, but was only told that there might be a presidential tweet that would concern him. Kelly didn’t tell Tillerson what the tweet might say or when it might actually publish, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

 The story gets stranger. In an ironic twist, Tillerson (a former ExxonMobil chief) isn’t even on Twitter. Trump’s tweet had to be printed out and handed over. Awkward.


Tillerson Isn’t the First

Surprisingly, Secretary Tillerson isn’t the first person to be fired over Twitter. According to a quick Google search, that honour went to a young girl in Texas, who, in 2015, was fired from her new position at a pizza joint, before she even had a chance to start. But then again, she did post some unflattering remarks about said pizza joint, so sounds like a draw. In this case, we’re talking about the President of the United States, a man with 50 million followers and an itchy trigger finger when it comes to blasting out hasty tweets.


What Does it All Mean?

Trump’s love for Twitter is well documented – an article on once described him as “possibly the first ‘social media’ and ‘reality TV’ president.” But how is that influencing the way governments convey information to their citizens? Or what kind of HR treatment is deemed socially acceptable in the workplace? Carrie Bradshaw once lamented being broken up with via a post-it note. Have we gone way beyond that to a time when you can expect to get updates about your employment status via your Twitter feed?

Trump Twitter

16 months into his term, it may be too early to know for sure, but as the folks at Mashable pointed out, “it’s a brave new world, everyone, so if you ever work in Trump’s White House, keep your DMs open. You don’t want to miss anything.” We’ll keep you updated on more Trump / Twitter twists in the coming months. In the meantime, you can follow along at @realDonaldTrump and leave a comment in the section below about how you think Trump’s love for Twitter is changing the landscape of government, politics, and work.



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