Quick Reactions @ the Speed of Twitter: Be Careful in Leadership Decisions

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A thought popped into my head during a 4am work-out session.  I was thinking about Marissa Mayer’s work from home ban decision at Yahoo and a few of my tweets.  Yes, odd thoughts to creep into the mind at even crazier hours.  The thought?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

Image Credit: Businessinsider.com

If I were writing a blog post about the decision, would the post resemble the general sentiment of my tweets?

I’ll admit it.  I reacted with the masses on the news that Yahoo remote workers will need to relocate back to the office.

Some of my Tweets on this topic:

A tech company making not allowing them to work from home?  Give me a break!

Trust your employees for crying out-loud!

Face time does not guarantee innovation!

And perhaps one of my wittiest, clever and ridiculous tweets:

The ‘80’s called……they want their CEO back!

It was all kind of fun seeing the chatter, engaging, listening.  There was no shortage of opinions, news coverage and humor.  A general good time had by all.

If I were writing a leadership post, here are some additional perspectives I would have considered:

What if I were in HER shoes?

What if I served on the Yahoo Board?

What if I were a Yahoo Shareholder (I am)?

What if I were a Yahoo employee, both a work from home or headquarter based employee?

Would my critical tweets hold up to the scrutiny of approaching this topic from a variety of angles?

So here goes….

The CEO Perspective

First, I would have done some basic “background research” on Mayer herself, using a tool she helped build (Google).

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/12/tech/web/marissa-mayer-yahoo-profile/

The basic research is nothing short of impressive.  Beyond the obvious, which is relatively young, female Fortune 500 CEO; this is a person of rare talent and significant accomplishment.

There is no publicly available information that leads me to believe she takes decisions lightly.   Contrary, decisions are data driven, thought out and have clear outcomes in mind.  Does the history of accomplishment and background guarantee she got this decision right?  Of course not, like investments, past performance does not guarantee future returns.  But they certainly matter.

Appreciating history can be thought of as OLD SCHOOL, but there are lessons to be learned indeed for understanding decisions, and their likely outcomes.  

I am a believer that maintaining policies and overall plans is MORE likely to create similar results than NOT changing.  She’s not there to maintain.  Obviously change does not guarantee improvement, it guarantees change.  It is hard to understand the pros/cons list considered for this decision without insider information, so I need to give a smart leader the benefit of the doubt.

The CEO test vs. my tweets?  Tweets don’t hold up when examining the decision from the CEO’s angle.  

Next up….

The Board of Directors

If I’m on the board and this was a topic, I would want to know a few things:

  • Rationale for change?
  • Pros, cons and most likely outcomes?
  • Will it create better results than current situation?  How will it be measured?
  • What are the risks, and does up-side outweigh those risks?

Here’s the real world:  A 15 minute explanation from the CEO, with the decision broken down and the above topics covered sufficiently and it gets universal support.  I would be right in that camp, backing a CEO that is building plans to create better outcomes.  It is EXPECTED that plans have consequences, as does this.  And it is expected that the CEO will create strategic moves that impact the shareholders.

The Board of director test vs. my tweets:   Tweet’s don’t hold up.

Next up….

Employees: Both the affected and non-affected by the decision

How will this affect home office  vs. people working from office locations?  If you have the freedom of working from home, chances are your accustomed to that routine and will not like the change in policy with some logical reasons why, such as lost time commuting, lost productivity, etc.  You may even harbor a feeling of “lack of trust” towards Yahoo.  All understandable.  And they really do not matter.

A decision has been made.  The company signing your paycheck has laid down a policy.  Two simple choices for the employees:  1) Get to the office or, 2) Get out.  If you value the work from lifestyle more than who you work for and what you’re working ON, your choice is clear.
Free enterprise is all about choice, competition, supply and demand.  There are companies besides Yahoo that would pick you up.

There’s a couple of nagging feelings I have however when I look at the work from home employees, that are vocally negative about the decision, and passionate.

1)  I have a hard time believing that great performers, doing great work, generating fantastic results, (albeit from the home), have a major problem with coming to the office.  Top 15% of the bell curve performers generally don’t focus on things they can’t control, they focus on what they CAN.  They will always have demand for their talents.  I bet they reported to the office and are continuing to generate great results, and are amplifying the results of their colleagues, which is the point of the decision to begin with.  If they value the work from home environment THAT MUCH, they will likely have already left.

2) The “Mass Middle” portion of the bell curve, the AVERAGE performers.  This decision may have created a feeling that has them thinking they are “acted upon” by their company.  They may even be harboring resentment.  If that’s true, a fast attitude adjustment is in order, or their middle of the curve performance will slip, and the light of headquarters is no longer a hiding place.  So if they slip, they will be vulnerable and sooner or later they will be out, it will be time to say goodbye.

Do great performing, results oriented people want to be next to below average people complaining about a company decision?  NEVER.  
The employee test vs. my tweets:   Tweet’s don’t hold up.

There you have it.  If I were a board member, a CEO, an employee, inside or outside of Yahoo, I support Marissa Mayer’s decision.  Not half-support, FULL support.

All contrary to my twitter sound bites.

Leadership decisions at the speed and constraint of twitter will often miss-fire.

Slow down & consider multiple angles.  Leadership is too important not too.

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Comments

  1. Harry Hustle says:

    Mark- how do you have time to write such detailed and thought provoking content. I admire you. You’re a father, a Chief Marketing Officer, athlete…..and a blogger. Totally admirable!

    • HH, thanks for the kind words! Not that big a deal, really! Just figured out a while back how much time got wasted on things like TV and this is a fun outlet to slow down an over-hyper brain! Keep at it and thanks for following. MO

  2. Robin Simon says:

    Great post! I still don’t “get” Twitter and this validates some of my cynicism regarding the knee-jerk, superficial nature of it. Perhaps it’s great for commenting on celebrity “news,” but for thought ful commentary on business and more serious topics, I’m not so sure…

    • Thanks Robin, and I agree, it took me about 6 months to really see the value of twitter. It’s actually (contrary to popular belief) better for LISTENING than talking, assuming you follow like-minded people. No doubt regarding thoughtful commentary, very difficult with 140 characters.

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