Has Yahoo! Gone Yahoo?

by | Apr 10, 2012 | Blog, Human Resources Consulting

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or info@integrityhr.com

Yahoo is making the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass in the final minutes of a bowl game or a final shot right at the buzzer. And we don’t think this is going to end like the glorious IU vs UK game back in December (glorious, if you are an IU fan, of course).

Just by glancing at the numbers, it doesn’t look good for Yahoo: six layoffs and three CEOs in four years—not the sign of a healthy company. Maybe new CEO Scott Thompson has something up his sleeve? We hope for the sake of the other 12,000 employees that he is not bluffing.

But who are we to say what may be the fate of Yahoo? After all, we are HR professionals, not fortune tellers.

What we can say is this: From an HR prospective, Thompson is going about this all wrong.

Yes, sometimes business owners and CEOs have to make drastic decisions that others label as crazy (ex: Facebook buying Instagram for $1 billion…considering it’s Facebook, we can only imagine this will turn out good for them). But there is certain protocol that should be followed if you want your employees to take the leap of faith with you.

Let’s look at what Thompson has done during his first three months on the job: He imposed the largest layoff in the company’s 17-year history (purging 2,000 or 14 percent of the 14,000 workforce), reshaped the board of directors, picked a potentially disruptive fight with a major shareholder and sued Facebook for patent infringement.

Woah buddy.

While Thompson claims he has a plan, people are starting to wonder if he is just flying by the seat of his pants, making potentially fatal business decisions and THEN figuring out what he’s going to do next. Perhaps he sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but isn’t exactly sure how to get there.

Here’s a tip from the HR experts at Integrity HR:

When you know your business is going to make some drastic changes, you need buy in.

Your business will have a better chance of success if you get people (your employees, your board of directors, your supervisors, etc) behind your plan first.

Be transparent (or as transparent as you can be). People won’t follow you if they feel like you are hiding something.

If you rally your troops, then they will be excited, not hesitant to jump off the cliff with you. In Thompson’s case, his email to his fellow Yahoos! spoke of big changes, but didn’t explain how they were going to get there or why. Nope, instead, he ends his email by saying, “BTW, I’m laying off 2,000. Don’t worry it’s all part of the ‘plan.’” Okay, maybe he didn’t say that exactly, but it went something like that.

This is an excerpt from the Thompson’s email.

“Unfortunately, reaching that goal requires the tough decision to eliminate jobs, which means losing colleagues and parting with friends. Today, we will begin the process of informing employees about these changes. As part of that effort, approximately 2,000 people will be notified of job elimination or a phased transition. We value our people and for those who will be leaving, we thank you for all you have contributed to Yahoo!. We will treat all of our people with dignity and respect, providing resources to help manage through their transition.”

If I was one of his Yahoos, I’m not sure if I’d be his biggest fan right now. Although he softens the mass termination with kind words, it still stings. We think it’s safe to say that the environment at Yahoo is less than positive right now.

And that is the last thing you want you are making tough decisions. You don’t want your employees on the defensive, wary of your every move. Trust is one of the building blocks of leadership. If you lose their trust, all else crumbles.

So think about this: Are you prepared for massive change? What if you or your CEO decides it’s time to take a risk? Could you handle it? Would you know what steps to take? Would you know what to tell your employees?

Right now, the HR at Yahoo is most likely focusing on damage control. Maybe Thompson has revealed his elusive plan to HR, but then again, maybe he hasn’t. What if you were in their position? How would you calm the employees without knowing exactly what was going on? Would you know what you were legally required to do?

The best way to get prepared is to have a strategic partner by your side to walk with you step by step as you get closer to the edge. They’ll even open your parachute for you so you make a safe landing.

Why should you choose Integrity HR as your strategic partner?

Integrity HR utilizes a team of Certified HR Professionals who cooperate systematically and strategically with one another to provide small to medium sized organizations with expert HR Outsourcing.  This team approach provides expertise from many different areas of Human Resources, something one person alone could not provide.

Integrity HR can be the answer to the challenges with your day-to-day HR needs. Whether you’re facing…

  • a compliance situation
  • how to handle difficult employee issues
  • need management support
  • need on-site resources to ensure compliance, solid policies/practices
  • need help hiring the best employees who will stay with you
  • need a resource for payroll outsourcing
  • need “on site” or phone support for those challenging HR solutions…

Sounds like Thompson could use a strategic partner right about now.  Here is how he closes his email to his “Yahoos.”

“Change is never easy. But the time has come to move Yahoo! forward aggressively with increased focus and accountability. Our values have always been about treating all Yahoos with dignity and respect, and today is a day to embrace those values. This is an amazing company with exceptionally talented people and I know we will all do our best to encourage each other through this difficult period of transition.”

No, Thompson, change is never easy. But there is a difference between changing for purpose and changing for change sake.  And right now, we’re not sure which category Yahoo falls under. I guess we’ll find when Thompson reveals his “plan” on April 17. Let us know what you think about Yahoo’s latest moves in the comments below.


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