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Don’t say that you were not warned before. Two recent major events are major indicators of what’s in store for you. Yahoo CEO’s most talked about decision to ask its employee to get up on their ass and report to work and the firing of Groupon’s founder CEO Andrew Mason, will have far reaching impact. The economy isn't recovering well; many companies are struggling in these difficult times. In such a scenario all they want is any workable solution. When they can’t find solutions from within, they look outside and often to global leaders.
Let’s analyze the Groupon’s story first. CEOs rarely get fired, because it reflects poorly on both parties; the CEO being given the push and the board that appointed him. So usually they are given a golden handshake. Andrew Mason refused that handshake and boldly accepted the boot and that too with a good sense of humor. Below is the excerpt of his letter to his employees.
"People of Groupon, After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why ... you haven't been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.”
Groupon’s problem was not his CEO but his business model. The same business model which got them millions as investment. Now they needed someone who could think beyond what was obvious. Many companies globally are running with old ideas CEO and their stale business models which are running past its date of expiry. My assumption is following Mason’s ouster , investors round the globe will show little patience with their existing CEOs and will like to appoint a new leader. If you don’t believe me, just see the sign of things to come. Blackberry India head has resigned, Pandora’s CEO has put down his papers and Intel too is actively looking for a new CEO outside its company. The same pattern will be observed in the BPO industry. Mark my words, some very important heads are about to roll.
Now let’s come to the yahoo story. Yahoo is symbolic of all those companies who were once a big name and are struggling to keep their legacy alive. It also symbolizes all those tech companies who have failed to innovate or have little clue on how to adapt to the rapidly changing behavior of the internet uses.
Yahoo doesn’t own a single big social media platform and has been left behind in this race which is the torch bearer of the next big things. Yahoo is left struggling on the crutches of its content network. However, what was more disturbing was the kind of talent yahoo has and the kind of results they were producing. The big questions before the management were - Are they simply using it as a stop gap arrangement before jumping on to the next big offer or are they really serious about the company and are passionate about reviving it. The answer lied in the log book of the VPN network. Every company has its own VPN network which allows its employees to log in from remote location without requiring to report to office and work from home. The VPN logs told a completely different story.
More than 50% of the employee never used to log in more than a few times a month. Yahoo CEO saw this as a Red Signal and scrapped that policy within a week. The early reaction was many employees created a lot of hue and cry about the same and there were reports that many will even leave however as the dust settled most of them started realizing its benefits too. To have that kind of passion to revive the company you need your men around. This not just increases productivity, this also creates the employee bonding, exchange of ideas all this which was missing in yahoo for a long time.
Marissa Mayer did just what the doctor ordered. Many people have supported her decision on the pretext that -
Work from Home in general affects productivity and team dynamics while improving work life balance and flexibility to certain people. If it's provided for the 'right' people (e.g. physically challenged, people with special illnesses, mom-to-be or new born's mom etc), it's a good idea but the fact is that it's been misused by many employees. So companies should make it as a case-to-case policy than totally abolishing it or providing too much of flexibility.
I am not predicting that, there will be huge turnaround but yahoo will be a better company after a year of implementing this. Guess what, my next prediction is many other companies will follow a similar order. The flexible working will be under scanner and the work from home too. The ITES industry will show similar afterthoughts.
Remember, this is the age of globalization. One decision in another part of the world, can have such a ripple effect worldwide. So be prepared for some tough measures both at the bottom as well as at the top level.