Yahoo! hypocrisy – Dark Ages Return!

Autocracy at Yahoo – or is that Idiocracy?

I just read this article from Mashable, which got me fired up! It basically says that Yahoo! has cancelled their work-from-home policy, because Marissa and HR believe that “togetherness” (in the cubes) will re-create the bonds of communication and creativity they believe to be lost…
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The hypocrisy:

At the same time, I noticed that Queen Marissa has converted an office next to hers into a private daycare centre, link here! So, where do I begin? Is it in the total hypocrisy: that the CxO suite get’s to make these top-down, autocratic, command-and-control decisions over the serfs, while enjoying special privileges themselves, which help negate those very dictates, by opening a private daycare for their own personal needs? Seriously? Oh yea, *that’s* leadership. Way to show them, HR and Marissa!

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The stupidity:

Or rather, am I more upset at the stupidity of such a move? What’s it really going to accomplish, and does HR and Marissa really believe that this move will help them once more “…become the best place to work?” (quote from the HR statement). Do they really think that working from home was a main reason they’re no longer on of the best places to work? And does HR and Marissa really believe that if you work from home, “speed and quality are often sacrificed…”? Really? Of course, that never happens when you’re forced to be glued into your cube… I hope you can read the sarcasm in my words!
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The damage:

By banning working from home, Yahoo! are adding control policies and spreading distrust, which will only serve to restrict the creativity, sense of (and real) freedom, and decrease motivation. Especially when combining this with the management hypocrisy – that’s like throwing salt in the wounds! This is nothing more than a punishment measure, which says: “we no longer trust you, those that work at home, because you all must be slacking and doing nothing.” Will that instill a sense of motivation, drive, and innovation amongst the returning people? Or will the feel pissed off, reprimanded, and will the best of them start looking for other jobs? Oh yes, the best of them. You see, HR seems to believe that this will drive away the “lazy” employees and slackers. I’ll let you in on a little secret HR: the slackers will ALWAYS find a way to slack in the cubes, or wherever they are. That’s why you shouldn’t hire them in the first place, and why these policies will do nothing to weed them out. They’ll slack forever, hidden behind the cube-barrier, with their mail client open, looking busy.
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Stop the stupidity

So while Marissa will always be flexible in how she works, even enjoying her nanny-in-house and I’m sure having various and numerous offsite meetings-on-the-go, she’s asking her colleagues to reign in their freedom and work under an umbrella of mistrust. How have we become so stupid to think this will increase the engagement of our colleagues? Is this Yahoo’s! best idea for a turnaround strategy? When will we start to understand that a return to autocracy isn’t the best way to promote creativity and innovation? How creative do you feel, when you’re restricted? When flexibility for yourself is removed, while the same freedom’s for your bosses are preserved – even increased? Will the best employees put up with this, or will they find new homes where they feel more appreciated?

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You cannot foster innovation, creativity, and unity by treating your colleagues unequally, restricting freedom, and breeding mistrust.

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11 replies
  1. Kosta Galabov
    Kosta Galabov says:

    Feeling a bit stupid for commenting on this one as I extremely rarely do comment on posts elsewhere, but lately this topic of Yahoo! decision has been really annoying me. And to be honest, stumbling on this page (namely from LinkedIn :)), I find your opinion on the topic the best I have read, nevertheless the one that I disagree with the most.

    I need to start with the disclaimer that I do not care at all for Yahoo!. I don’t use their services in any use or form, don’t have Yahoo! stock, etc. I just like the notion of hope for a unexpected company turnaround story that the appointment of Marissa as CEO brought to the company. It is just a philosophical curiosity on my part. Strong curiosity though mixed with a bit of old fashioned rooting for the underdog 😉

    Your post is extremely well articulated, but what it misses (or assumes the readers know) is the situation Yahoo! is in terms of company. From outsiders’ view, it used to be a complete mess just 8 months ago – it had weird strategy (if any), dysfunctional board, questionable leadership, etc. Not sure about the work force status at that time, but I doubt they were in better shape… This is the place, queen Marissa found when first hired. And to turn it around, it requires certain decisions. I have no idea what kind of decisions, but I can imagine the type of decisions – unpopular ones. controversial. creative. against conventional wisdom. The one with banning work from home certainly ticks all boxes here (for me, that is :))

    Does it send the message of “I don’t trust you” – sure it does. But I would argue, from the fact that Yahoo! has been going down for quite some time, no one there is to be trusted until proven innocent.
    Does it sound hypocritical – sure it does. But put your hand on your heart and tell me, that out there in wide world of the wild capitalism (pun intended) , there are companies where the C level employees are treated equally with the rest. And if you do, I will not believe. Mind you, I am not saying it is good or bad thing. I am just saying that it is as common as Liverpool league titles used to be in the 70s and the 80s 🙂

    And creativity… and freedom… where should I start 🙂 an endless debate. Nevertheless, looking at the history of mankind, the biggest creativity always came when under strong autocratic and oppressive regimes (Renascence and Age of Discovery to name few… ). again, I am not saying that this is good thing. Actually for a person that grew up under autocratic and oppressive regime (and actually the most light timeframe of it), I can certainly say it is bad thing. But still…

    Anyway, my point – I believe in giving people the chance to do their own mistakes. Queen Marissa is the one accountable for Yahoo!’s fate and if she thinks that this decision is best for the company – so be it. No one from us, the outsiders, know the details. And the trick is always in the details and the specifics. For any negative of her decision, there can be a positive. But they mean nothing without the details and the context. So let’s just relax and watch the show. Unless you have Yahoo! stock. but if you do, I guess you already hate Jerry Yang for not selling to Microsoft anyway 🙂

    -Kosta

    Reply
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    Reply

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