Effective leadership and management of change have become one of the most important physiognomies of successful organizations. In today’s modern organizations, successful management of people, cultures, progressions, and stratagems has become the only way to staying competitive in the face of shifting demographics, technological expansions, and increased globalization. With such possible shifts, the rate at which change occurs in companies has never been more rapid than it is nowadays. An incessant amalgamation of art and science, effective leadership calls for effective negotiation, as well as for the employment of proper decision models. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, is a good example of both acceptable and poor choices in leadership, as it will be demonstrated further.
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For quite a while after joining Yahoo, Mayer demonstrated certain important and admirable aspects of leading and managing change. The CEO joined Yahoo when it was going through an economic downhill, losing money, credibility, and talent (Myatt, 2015). She was expected to implement the changes that would salvage the company. Leading and managing change calls for a transition of an organization in relation to its external environment (HUST, 2016 (Unit 7)). Leading and managing also calls for high-quality leadership, proper budgeting, effective decision making, meticulous planning, as well as suitable recruitment and controlling. To effectively manage the change, Mayer has demonstrated a sense of urgency in the need for change. The company which was among the top Fortune 500 companies was drastically collapsing. Talking to her employees, she demonstrated such urgency by further lessening the amount of time that would be initially taken to launch the new Yahoo mail platform. Further, three-quarters preceding her arrival, the Yahoo team had only worked and successfully tested five Yahoo mail designs. In two months, over 37 variations of mail designs had been tested. This seemed to be working, at least for a while (Carlson, 2015).
Mayer presented a new strategy to introduce the change she desired to see in Yahoo. First, Mayer clearly articulated the reasons why there was an urgent need for change. This is important, explains Kotter (2013), as employees get to know why the organization needs to shift from the strategies they are used to. Mayer also tried to keep open communication between her and the employees. As such, she was keen to invite the employees’ ideas and opinions. In the earlier days, previous CEO’s would call for meetings and restrict their questions to the senior management. Mayer, on the contrary, would expect the contributions to all in the meeting (Carlson, 2015). Such communication is immeasurably important for functional leadership and management of change (Kotter, 2013; HUST, 2016 (Unit 7)). Though intimidated at first, the employees later learned to work with her approach. The people she worked closely with developed much trust in her and their confidence in the changes, as anticipation grew. As such, most employees began contributing more to reviving Yahoo.
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However, Mayer failed in displaying some important aspects of leading and managing change, decision making, as well as consensus building and negotiation. For example, there had been an agreement that blue and gray would be Yahoo Mail’s colors. However, a day before the newly designed Yahoo was launched, Mayer decided that the colors had to be changed. This was an indication of poor leadership in change management. In such a case, employees are likely to feel unappreciated, and the level of uncertainty on the value of their work may increase (Kotter, 2013). Mayer should have discussed the decision with the teams involved in the design of Yahoo Mail, as she did not have a guiding coalition as expected for effective leadership of change (HUST (Unit 7)). Communicating with the team had been deteriorating as the time passed. As such, she fell out with some employees who left the company. Insecurity, threat to the employees’ jobs, and the fear of being manipulated or intimidated characterized Yahoo’s employees. They were reluctant to adopt changes, largely because there was very little communication on the issue.
Further, Mayer made some poor decisions. To efficiently manage and solve problems, leaders should make decisions with taking into consideration all of the factors (HUST, 2016 (Unit 8)). In her case, Mayer’s decision can be categorized under the garbage can model. This model is characterized by an unsystematic approach and does not rely on the resources available or the opportunities to be pursued. Trial and error, as well as capricious and impetuous decisions, characterize the garbage can model (HUST, 2016 (Unit 8)). In Mayer’s case, for example, the reward for disloyalty was embraced as an approach to maintain top talent. In this case, most of the loyal employees who had not thought of leaving always felt left out (Myatt, 2015). Further, such retention bonuses became an incentive for employees to look for other jobs. Another example of a poor decision was her diversification approach. Mayer, for instance, purchased several underperforming and unknown companies, such as Aviate, Distill and Tumblr (Hartung, 2015). Nevertheless, $3 billion could probably have been used to chart an effective strategy to salvage Yahoo from its collapse.
Mayer further failed in promoting consensus in her organization. For instance, in 2013, a memo was issued, which stated that employees would no longer be allowed to work from home. Most employees questioned her judgment and an angry backlash followed (Myatt, 2015). Since she was a parent, women employees thought that Mayer would understand the need for remote working. She had a nursery for her son, an option that other parent employees did not have. This action subsequently affected employee engagement (Carlson, 2015). Employee productivity also drastically reduced. Negotiation and consensus building call for leaders to address the conflicts in their organizations by being open-minded and ready for innovative approaches (Kotter, 2013). Mayer fell for some common negotiation traps. For instance, she failed in keeping communication and dialogue channels open (HUST, 2016 (Unit 9)). There was no discussion on the issue. She completely ignored the “other side” (employees) problems and, hence, pursued no fairness. As such, Mayer failed as a leader in managing change at Yahoo.
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From the analysis presented above, it becomes evident that Mayer failed to fulfill some leadership roles and responsibilities which are imperative to the success of any company. I can apply some of these conclusions to my organization. First, my organization needs to appreciate the value of employees’ involvement in effective change and transition. For instance, in the first few days, Mayer had the support of some of the employees, as she considered their views and opinions. This changed later, and the employees’ distrust for leadership only kept escalating. In my organization, therefore, in the case of any impending change, employees need to be informed of details about why the change is important and how it will affect them. Most employees are resistant to change, as they associate change with a threat to their employment, as well as the uncertainty about what the change means to their personal values (Kotter, 2013; HUST, 2016 (Unit 9)). The leadership of my organization, therefore, should strive to keep employees informed, and motivated on any change initiatives. Training, education, and mentoring should also be provided to ensure there is a smooth transition, especially if the change calls for a shift in the normal operations that the employees are used to.
Another lesson for my organization is to employ suitable business decision models to solve a problem. The garbage can model might not be the best model when one wants to promote organizational development. Leaders should not assume that the garbage can will always contain solutions for their future problems. Further, leaders should foresee future changes which should affect the chosen model (Kotter, 2013). Mayer solved the problem of employees’ insecurity over layoffs by promising that they will stop. However, later, the layoffs started again. The little confidence there was turned to distrust. Further, she introduced bonuses to maintain talented employees from leaving. That, of course, did not provide a long term solution. Leaders in my organization will thus consider all factors in play before making a decision. Lastly, solving conflict is imperative to organizational success. Conflicts should not be ignored as was the case in Yahoo. My organization should ensure that a consensus is reached when conflict arises. All aggrieved parties should be given a chance to air their views, anger, and displeasure (HUST, 2016 (Unit 9)). A consensus should be reached after the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement has been considered.
In conclusion, high-quality leadership spans across an array of factors. Consensus building, leading and managing change, as well as strategic decision-making are just some of the many important facets. Today, the rate at which the three activities are carried out in an organization have become faster than a few years before. In the case study, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer had it in the right direction for the first year. The employees were engaged and the urgency for the desired change communicated. However, later, the situation changed. Yahoo’s failure, therefore, to a large extent, is attributed to Mayer’s failure to employ an operant decision-making model, failure to lead change, as well as the ignorance of the conflict’s presence.