The beginning of the end of employee coddling

You’ve heard the news by now that Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, declared the end to working from home for Yahoo employees. They have been given three months to get their homes in order and get back to the office.  Yahoo says the return to work is to build collaboration and form a unified Yahoo. Is Mayer risking too much with this change or is the change a slick move?

Keep in mind that Mayer was hired to “right the ship”. Yahoo has been going downhill fast (one recent CEO there was fired for lying on his resume and others failed), and she’s there to turn it around. Clearly, what they are doing now is not working, so changes are necessary.
Wouldn’t it be silly to keep doing what they’ve been doing when what they’ve been doing is not working? Wouldn’t it be silly to retain the flexible work location just because Google and Facebook offer it to their people? Yahoo is not their peer and its people are not holding up their end of the bargain by actually working while at home.
I’d bet Mayer didn’t issue the change without identifying the most important contributors and how they work. Unfortunately, she found out that most of the people working from home were complacent. Complacency ruins companies. She’s not going to let Yahoo go down without a fight.

On the other hand, research shows that flexibility is important to workers today. Companies that offer flexibility enjoy lower turnover, higher employee satisfaction and engagement. Mayer might be jeopardizing the highly productive, engaged, and motivated employees in an attempt to boost collaboration or rid the company of underperformers.
Some people have noted that top talent won’t join Yahoo now because they will not have the flexibility to work from home. That’s a risk Mayer is willing to take. Frankly, I doubt top talent would be focused only on this one issue. They will come for other perks, if the company turns itself around.

Much of the world is up-in-arms about this edict, proclaiming it takes working women back fifty years, but let’s recognize the positives of the strategy too:

·         The change is not odd. It makes sense that an industry that relies on innovation, which is built on collaboration, would want people to be together.

·         It sends the positive message that people are so valuable, they need to collaborate more. If you don’t want to, feel free to exit may be the underlying message, but the outward message is positive.

·         It’s a great way to get rid of the complacent people taking advantage of the flexible option without having the cost of layoffs.

·         It shows analysts and customers that Yahoo is not afraid to make bold moves.

·         The change is temporary. They’ve said it is necessary “right now”, which leaves it open to change in the future or on an as-needed basis.

This might be the tipping point for coddling. In some places, employee engagement has run amok and people have taken advantage. Companies are waking up to the fact that they pay good money and it is reasonable to expect something in return. When people don’t hold up their end of the bargain, companies are going to coddle less and open the exit doors more.
As companies wake up to their power, complacent employees will be the most vocal protesters. Mark my words: the coddling days are coming to an end. The days of genuine caring will continue, just the coddling will stop.

Corporations walk their talk and kick leaders to the curb

Now that Values are openly displayed on web sites, touted in advertisements, and posted on walls throughout corporate America, discrepancies between Values and behavior are noticed. Lately, it seems corporations are taking notice of their values and are trying to behave consistently.

Whether they like it or not, the web sites, advertisements, and posters are prompting many companies to be All-In.

Consider three current examples:

1. JPMorgan Chase admitted late last week that it experienced a $2 billion loss caused by, in its own words, sloppiness and bad judgment.

One PR model often followed in similar embarrassing, costly circumstances is to deny, downplay, then barely acknowledge and reluctantly fire a few people (a la Goldman Sachs). In response to its exorbitant losses, 

JPMorgan Chase went public before news leaked nationwide, started the CEO apology tour quickly, and accepted resignations or fired people involved. Their behavior is interesting because their Values Statement reads:  Our values are reflected in the way that we conduct our business and in the first-class results that we consistently achieve for our clients.

2. Best Buy's CEO, Brian Dunn, resigned in April for undisclosed personal reasons (All-In blog post). The reasons were disclosed yesterday: he had an extremely close relationship with a female coworker, and it affected the workplace. In light of that disclosure, Best Buy's Chairman resigned yesterday because he knew about the relationship. On its web site, one of Best Buy's values is to "Show respect, humility and integrity." At least in the midst of disrespect and lack of integrity, the company is showing some of both this week.

3. Yahoo's CEO, Scott Thompson, was lambasted the ten days, including here, for lying on his resume for years. When the lie became public ten days ago, the former CEO downplayed the lie and only acknowledged the distraction it had become for the employees. However, others took the lie more seriously. The executive who led the hiring process of Thompson, who began work at Yahoo in January, was let go, along with others. Yahoo's values include: We are committed to winning with integrity.The CEO was not committed to the same thing, and he is out.

 Clearly, living by their internal values has been difficult, embarrassing, and humbling for JPMorgan Chase, Best Buy, and Yahoo. Even when they are not perfect, all of their stakeholders can see they are trying to behave the way their values determine. Now when the executives of those companies ask for first-class conduct, respect, and integrity, they are role models for their corporate culture because they are walking the talk, and web sited, advertisements, and posters

A CEO's minor lie is major to employees

Four days ago it became public and blogged about here that Yahoo's new CEO, Scott Thompson, had lied on his resume. He lists an accounting and computer science degree, when he has only an accounting degree.

I blogged about it Friday because of the impact on corporate culture, and several people protested because the lie was so minor and didn't matter. So minor, they insisted, it shouldn't even be called a lie but an oversight.

Late yesterday, the CEO apologized for the distraction the lie had caused. He did not apologize for the lie itself or explain how it had been perpetuated throughout his hiring or previous employers. In the memo obtained by CNN, Thompson says, "I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you." (Source:

Whether you call it a lie or an inadvertent oversight, or any other name, the issue, its cause, and its management have become major to the employees. 

From A senior Yahoo executive, who spoke to CNN on the condition that his name not be used, said: "Thompson has quickly lost the confidence of many employees, who think he has to go."

Managers and executives often underestimate the impact their actions have on the people around them. When you need your people to unite as a team to move a company forward, they need you to be truthful. They will notice if you're not, and the corporate culture will be impacted.

(Article at

What do you think? 
Would you care if your company leaders lied in a similar way?

May 13, 2012:
Yahoo confirmed late today that it's CEO, Scott Thompson, left the company as a result of the padded resume.
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