Physics in HR Revisited – The Mayer Mode

In engineering, the word “mode” is used in several contexts. There are modes of operation and modes of failure, for example. Any mode might also be looked at as a collection of elements that combine to make up that mode.

Marissa Mayer has a big job to do. Yahoo! is a big, and some would say floundering, company. Every day since she began work at Yahoo!, she has likely faced a number of decisions. Some big, some small, some which will make the difference in the eventual success or failure of the company.

We see little of the inner workings of that company, and we know very little of the strategy they no doubt are implementing and the details of their near and short term plans. The Mayer Mode is the implementation of that total strategy.

This week we learned about one little decision, and we learned that hundreds or people would like to weigh in on the wisdom of that decision. That one, lone, decision.

Sure, it will have a big affect on some employees, and I am sure that is part of the risk assessment that was made. I’m equally sure that many people first read about this and said “What was she thinking?” She was thinking about all the things that her leadership team needs to do create success for Yahoo!, and that included some tough decisions.

Where I work, the theme for HR continues to be “Unleash Your Power“, and we continue to work on HR systems that align to that theme. One of my co-workers joked today that Mayer’s theme must be “We Need to Leash Your Power.” And you know, that’s probably true. It takes a huge effort to turn a ship like that. If I had to guess, their flexible work policy was possibly as out-of-control as their business has seemed to be lately.

That’s why she’s there. That’s why the BOD hired her. They need a new mode of operation, and she is intent on bringing it on. So far, I would prefer the Mayer Mode over my experience with the Dunlap Mode. Time will tell whether the Mayer Mode is a failure mode or a success mode.

One last thing. The version of the memo I read said that if this applies to you, management has already been in touch.  We didn’t see that communication. I would like to think that the message was more specific for those folks. That maybe it even implied that they might someday be able to go back to flexible arrangements, but for now it is quite literally “all hands on deck”.

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