Making Waves: Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo!

I thought journalists were supposed to be objective, but I feel like every day the media becomes more and more one sided. Maybe there’s a difference between media and journalists, but the line is pretty blurry. One news agency reports a story – however skewed the information – and all the other news outlets jump on the bandwagon.

This is something that already bothers me, but a couple of weeks ago when the reports came out that Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo!, Sunnyvale, CA, ended most telecommuting for employees, the media frenzy that ensued was ridiculous.

Surprisingly, much of the media’s view of Mayer’s decision was negative. Most every story I read and saw on t.v. focused on the studies suggesting that telecommuting increases productivity and boosts employee morale. Some reporters even suggested that Mayer is not supporting working parents.

Also, surprisingly, many of Mayer’s biggest critics have been other women.

I am not the CEO of a large corporation or an expert at managing large groups of people, and most journalists aren’t either. So why is the media jumping to conclusions here?

Let’s give Mayer a chance before we so profusely judge her and her plans for Yahoo!. Mayer said her decision to end most telecommuting was to bring more internal cohesiveness and collaboration. If you look back to when she was first hired as CEO of Yahoo!, this is in line with what she communicated to employees.

ImageAccording to a Business Insider article by Nicholas Carlson on September 25, 2012, Mayer outlined her strategy for the company’s success. Listed below are some of the objectives that she outlined.

* Yahoo! will become something users touch every day.

* Yahoo! will focus more. To paraphrase, “do more of what we’re good at and less of what we’re not.”

* Yahoo! will be partner friendly. 

* Yahoo! will be strong in mobile by 2015.

* Projects will only be green-lit if they can scale to 100 million users or $100 million in revenue.

* Yahoo! will move faster, giving employees more deadlines, ownership, resources, and tools.

Mayer also said that Yahoo! will support its staff through “the Four Cs,” Culture, Company Goals, Calibration, and Compensation.

(Read the full article here)

Honestly, I think eliminating telecommuting is in line with the goals Mayer communicated in September. I’ve been on the other side – the one in the office adjusting my schedule based on when a teleworker could make it into the office. It was frustrating and often felt unfair. I ended up resenting my coworker and manager.

Some people do well working from home, while others do not. Some telecommuters are flexible and make every effort to be available to their managers and coworkers, while others do not. Where some employees are more productive working from home, others are more distracted and accomplish less. CEOs and the companies that they lead have to make good business decisions based on their needs, goals and employees, which is exactly what Mayer did.

Let’s also take a look at other benefits Yahoo! offers its employees. According to its website, Yahoo! provides employees with the “basics,” such as medical, dental and vision insurance, a 401k where they match 25% of the employee’s contributions as well as long- and short-term disability. In addition, employees receive back-up dependent care, onsite fitness centers at many of its locations, access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), adoption assistance, tuition reimbursement, dependent day care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), community service day off, service awards, and savings on dining, shopping and even travel. Let’s be honest – in today’s economy some people would appreciate a job in general let alone a job that provides employees with these types of benefits.

Change is tough, so I understand why employees initially might be upset – especially those who the modification directly effects. It may be challenging for those who have been working from home to be in the office and accordingly adjust their schedules. It also will be an adjustment for office employees to have more coworkers. On both sides, they will need to learn new work styles and try getting along with everyone.

I’m not a Yahoo! employee, nor do I know Mayer and her management approach. I was simply listening and reading all of the backlash from this decision and was confused at the reaction and information provided by the media. From my perspective, based on my experience, I think reeling in the telecommuters at Yahoo! is a good idea. It’s an updated policy that Mayer felt was necessary at this point.

Policy’s are meant to be reviewed and revised. In time, she most certainly can add telecommuting back to the company’s long list of benefits when she feels that Yahoo! and its employees are ready. Maybe the telecommuting policies will be stricter, setting more stringent guidelines and requirements, but that’s not a bad thing. Companies should be making their work-from-home expectations clear to employees.

I also find it interesting that, as I was looking further into this, one week after Yahoo! announced that it was ending telecommuting, Best Buy, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, announced the same. Where was the media frenzy then? Did it have anything to do with the fact that Best Buy’s CEO is a gentleman by the name of Hubert Joly?

I’m sure that this was a well-thought, hard decision by Mayer that was made after careful consideration and hours of discussion. Mayer proved her abilities at Google, which is why Yahoo! hired her. Let’s give her a chance and not be so quick to judge. It takes time to turn around big companies – and it takes big, tough decisions. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Mayer, and Yahoo!, will be doing this time next year.

Working Relationships

Oh, Ben Affleck, I adore you! Thank you for keeping it real when thanking your wife, Jennifer Garner, as you accepted the Oscar for Best Picture a couple of weeks ago. For those who missed it, Affleck told his beautiful wife, much of Hollywood and millions of viewers, “I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.” (If you haven’t seen the video  yet, here’s a link to a YouTube clip:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUOM1GXY3vA)

My initial reaction was similar to Garner’s nod and smile. I was happy for Affleck, but couldn’t believe the words coming from his mouth. The comments came off so negative toward marriage that I actually thought, “oh boy, here comes another Hollywood divorce! Is he just a miserable married guy?”

Then, as I thought about it more, I wondered, “Ben, why are you sharing this secret? Don’t scare off all of those lovey-dovey engaged couples and honeymooners! But where were you when I was engaged? I wish I would’ve known this before I said, ‘I Do’.”

Now that I’ve had time to reflect on Affleck’s comments a bit more, I’m so happy that he shared this honest and real observation of marriage. And, though it’s less romantic of a view than we’d all love to believe, it’s one of the truest I’ve heard.

ImageMarriage is work. Sometimes you’re working really hard at it, sometimes your partner is working really hard at it and sometimes you’re both working really hard at it together. Obviously, Affleck’s word choice wasn’t the greatest. Being an artist and in a public forum, he probably could have been a little more eloquent.

So, let’s just say relationships – especially marriages – aren’t always easy, but they are always worth it. (Okay, I should probably clarify and say, “they’re worth it most of the time” because I realize there are situations where staying in a marriage or relationship is definitely not worth it).

Many of us romanticize marriage so much that when we actually tie the knot we’re shocked at how difficult it sometimes is. When we realize that Prince Charming leaves towels and dirty clothes on the floor (all over the floor), or that Princess snores – loud, we think, “I did not sign up for this!”

Marriage requires unconditional love. I understand that love is patient and kind, love is selfless and honest, you need communication, and more. However, I feel that when you really think about unconditional love, it encompasses all of those necessities and more.

When two people who are unconditionally in love join together as one in marriage, they understand that at the end of the day, no matter what the other does, or what annoying personality traits the other possesses, they have love.

This, of course, doesn’t always happen over night. I, for one, am still learning how to unconditionally love my husband. My husband is still learning how to unconditionally love me. Every day I have to think about this, and, frankly, it really can be exhausting.

When my husband blames me for his lost keys or leaves the bread open again, I have to consciously remember that he is just stressed or not thinking about tying up the bread bag. This is just him – this is just who I chose to marry. I love him because he’s the funniest person I’ve ever met and has a huge heart (among other things), and I know I’m not perfect either.

When I get frustrated and “sigh” at him and everything he does or doesn’t do, I know it annoys him to no end. I know he gets so frustrated that I can’t get into bed until the sheet and comforter lay perfectly on the bed. Still, he loves me.

Some days, I want to give up on marriage because it really is so much work that I’m tired. I’m sure my husband has those days too. It can be a struggle at times, especially when money is tight, a family member is sick or life has you so busy that you don’t see each other very often.

We try to look past all of the petty, everyday stuff and focus on all that we have. We are lucky enough to have someone who loves us, someone who accepts us, someone who cares about our wellbeing, and someone with whom to share a family. He is a blessing to me and I am a blessing to him.

I know, I know, easier said than done. Believe me, this doesn’t mean that we have a perfect relationship and that we never argue. We absolutely do. When we’re feeling afraid, alone or stressed, it’s easy for us both to lose sight of what’s important.

Affleck is right about marriage. “It is work, but it’s the best kind of work.” At the end of the day, you know someone has your back and loves and accepts you. You have someone to hold your hand and walk beside you even in the darkest moments. You have someone with whom to share memories, create a family and live life.

So, know this, engaged couples and honeymooners, Affleck’s words are true. Marriage is work, but it’s worth it.