Did YAHOO get it right?

Did Yahoo communicate their No Telecommuting policy correctly? Regardless of your personal stance on telecommuting I think the answer is NO!



They missed communicating the WHY. In my opinion they let the media fill in the missing compelling reasons for the change. There does not appear to be any direct link with an overarching vision or direction for the corporation. Absent that link the decision does not pass the WHY THIS, WHY NOW test. Here is what the press (CNBC.com and others) are citing as the WHY:

…. starting in June, Yahoo employees will lose the benefit of working from home. According to an internal memo leaked on Friday to The Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD.com by numerous disgruntled Yahoo employees, the new policy calls for workers “physically being together.”

“We need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices… Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” reads the memo from Jacqueline Reses, a private equity veteran brought on board by Mayer in September to be the company’s HR boss.

“Hiring, managing and incentivizing talent will be of key importance,” Reses said in the press release announcing her hire.

Obviously Yahoo is trying to change their culture and often that can require dramatic action on the part of leadership. In this case this should have come from the top, Marisa Mayer, and addressed the real WHY. The working side- by- side logic escapes me as it is physically impossible for an entire company to work that way. Why not take it head on and cite the real reason, the compelling WHY. Why not just say we have created a bi-furcated culture of those who are productive and accountable and those who are perceived by their peers as slacking off and not being accountable. We think the telecommuting policy is part of the problem. We need to deal with it.

The Jacqueline Reses quote “Hiring, managing and incentivizing talent will be of key importance,” gives me cause for concern. Had she said attracting, leading and retaining top talent I would be on board, but I’m not. The differences may be subtle to many but my years of making mistakes as a CEO tell me otherwise. Yahoo needs to be a place where people want to work, where you attract vs. hire talent, where you lead vs. manage people( you manage processes). You need programs and a performance management system (aligned with your priorities) in place to retain top talent and not just incentives alone.

Yahoo leadership now faces the challenge of leading their organization through the emotions of change (http://rjeffreykimball.com/blog/leading-change/) . The first emotion requires answering the question WHY THIS, WHY NOW?

You have to give them credit, and I do, for being willing to make tough and unpopular decisions. What do you think?


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