Giving up the ostrich response

How was that last conversation with Aunt Nell?   As I suggested earlier you may not appreciate the importance of group dynamics.  Just recently there’s been a real life example in the news and I’d like to share some of my observations with you.

Marissa Mayer, the new CEO at Yahoo!,  recently issued a memo to her entire staff, stating that telecommuting was ending and all staff members are expected to report daily to the office  beginning in June.  I have no inside information but I can hazard a guess that Ms. Mayer may have a legitimate concern that the lack of daily office contact with about 500 staffers had caused that group to be perceived as disconnected and remote from the remaining 12,ooo or so other employees.  There is some legitimacy to that perception if we think about it.  Having a coffee break in the employee break room provides a valuable communication channel among the employees.

In my assessment Ms. Mayer may not have fully appreciated the impact of the major paradigm shift she has ordered.  Obviously she appreciates the importance of having the employees interact with one another through means other than impersonal emails and text messages.  Getting all her employees together physically gets everyone on the same page and focused on the same organizational goals.  It improves the quality and frequency of communication and I think it gets employees more personally invested in the success of the organization.   But implementing such a significant change requires, in my view, a stick and carrot approach.  The stick would be having folks  physically in the office.  From the news reports I’ve read the change has been received with the understandable negative response.  However, I think Ms. Mayer can mitigate that negativity by offering a carrot.  It would be a reconsideration at some defined future point of reinstating the work from home option.  What standards she would use would have to be clearly defined and objectively measured.  But it can be done.  In my view, Ms. Mayer has already shown that she’s not afraid to make the hard decisions.  Making an adjustment to her earlier decision would not diminish her in any way but would show how she is willing to listen, evaluate and implement changes as appropriate.  Are you able to say the same thing about your performance?

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