A Leadership “not to do”

I know this is old news about how Marissa Mayer has issued a ban on telecommuting within her company effective June 1st of this year but late or not I would like to provide my commentary.  Without question this new company policy has thrown many of her employees within Yahoo into an understandable quandary, especially since many employees chose to work at Yahoo on this provided flexibility. Her decision has also spawned quite a bit of conversation outside the walls of this organization much of it not in favour of Mayer’s decision.

So let’s look at some information:

  • The telecommuting ban was made public by someone within Yahoo leaking a memo about the directive  (smart move by the employee who did this)
  • The objective of the telecommuting ban is to foster greater collaboration to ultimately come up with better strategies to improve Yahoo’s declining position within the marketplace
  • Marissa has no problems in complying with her policy for she built a nursery for her 2 month old beside her office, albeit, at her own expense
  • Marissa earns a gazillion dollars annually – actual figure is about $115 million over 5 years.
  • Productivity research has shown that flexible work arrangements increases productivity, reduces traffic congestion and also environmental impact, increases personnel retention, and in many situations employees express greater satisfaction, motivation and engagement scores which ultimately translates into high performing work places.

I have a few issues with Marissa Mayer but for this post I will focus on one and one only and that is this telecommuting ban.  I personally feel that if Mayer holds true to this new work in-house policy that in the end she will not realize her objectives or they will be short lived for the following reasons. First, this announcement alone will most likely affect current productivity levels of her organization as they take time to process the news – internal “coffee-time” discussions, plus the possible need for additional meetings to review the change and to discuss the impact as well as other internal communication to try to bring the employees on board. Second, this change might cause some valuable employees to start looking for alternate employment. Third, actual turnover of employees that might be instrumental to Yahoo’s future success. Fourth, for those employees that don’t find alternate employment but would like to will fall in line with this policy but under great resentment and/or resistance which most likely will affect their engagement levels and possibly those of others.

Can Marissa really think by doing this she will create an engaged workforce that will produce the ideas that are needed to move them forward and upward?   S.Mipham from Ruling Your World puts forward the notion that “power that depends on bombarding others with our ambition or terrorizing them into submission does not last, because it requires constant maintenance” are quite appropriate to describe Mayer’s leadership style. The one great thing about Mayer’s decision is that it is going to be written up in many business text books in years to come on what not to do to create high performing and engaged work environments.



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