Jackson MeadTuesday,26 February 2013

The Snap:

CEO Marissa Mayer has declared that there shall be no working from home for Yahoo employees. While this has yielded a boon of publicity for Yahoo, with people from Richard Branson to former employees chiming in on the merits or faults of the plan, I think the underlying message is clear – Yahoo has a “gutless” leader. (Who may yet prove to be brilliant?)

The Download:

If I was a Yahoo stockholder I would be unloading my stock because regardless of the benefits of the plan, Ms. Mayer’s action belies her ability to hold her senior management accountable and shows a distinct lack of leadership, innovation and creativity while being head of a company whose initial success was built on, and required, these qualities.

The plan is decidedly weak if the hoped for result was to cut some of the fat by effectively laying off those people that were merely collecting pay while producing nothing because there is no guarantee that these loafers would not show up once the plan was enacted, leaving Yahoo with what is assumed to be an on-going productivity problem. It seems, that Ms. Mayer is hoping it will work out the way she wants. Wouldn’t it have been better and more effective for her to hold her senior management as well as their managers accountable for the productivity (or lack thereof) of the company? If they are not cutting it – fire them! They are big boys and girls and will understand if she does so.

While the direct approach may not be as “creative” as the plan proposed, at least we would know that the decisions to fire someone were made for valid business reasons. Ms. Mayer would know exactly what she was giving up when she handed out the pink slips because she would have to make tough decisions on a case by case, manager by manager, division by division, basis. In any event, doing it the “gutless” way – creating a somewhat inhospitable work environment will do more to drive away the productive workers than the slackers. Slackers have nowhere else to go, so it is in their best interest to stay, while productive people can always get a job. Maybe not at Google, but they will go somewhere where they will be held accountable and where their productivity will be appreciated rather than be lumped in with the non-productive staff.

CEOs must hold their staff accountable for their productivity. In today’s world there are ways that people can be held accountable even as staff and whole management teams are working remotely. For a CEO not to see that, shows a stunning lack of ingenuity. Whole companies have been created for the purpose of monitoring staff productivity (Google: productivity monitoring software). Moreover, the argument that this was done for improved communications and collaboration because a remote workforce can’t have effective “human interactions” is pretty ridiculous.

I am wondering if Ms. Mayer has heard of Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter? On these sites and others people are interacting, communicating and collaborating across continents as easily as if they were sitting across the boardroom table. Is the next thing banning e-mail?

Wait a minute! Her plan now looks brilliant since, come to think of it, this is the “logical” extension to the “no internal e-mail rule”. If I had stock, I’d sell it anyway since I would want a strong effective leader as CEO – not one that is for all intents and purposes “hoping it will work out.”

Hat Tips:

Business Insider, Business Week, E-Mail, CEO, Image Credit: Flickr

Take Action!

Subscribe to get updates delivered to your inbox