Marissa Mayer is making headlines again. We all know that she was brought into Yahoo just 3 years back with hopes of implementing the strategic brilliance that she’d been showing at Google. But the latest news coming out of Yahoo seems to be quite troubling: a significant number of key executives have exited the organization for better opportunities. They were key players in the turnaround strategy that Mayer’s had for the company. After this boat rocking event at the company, some sources have reported that she had the remaining key leaders sign a written agreement to stay with Yahoo for at least 3 more years.

Desperate moves of a leader down a path to failure? We can only wait and see. But considering the Chief Accounting Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Development Officer, a number of Senior VP’s and VP’s from across all functions all recently resigned from Yahoo, the future sadly seems bleak.

A recent story in Forbes brought up some very interesting points as to why Yahoo is facing this mass exodus of such important people. You’d think that with all her experience, Mayer would be able to adapt to the clearly different cultures between Google and Yahoo – and she probably did to some extent. But some points really stuck out, most of them from the HR perspective. Could it be that the secret to coming out of this slump is believing in the power of an incredibly strong HR strategy? The reasons highlighted by top executives at an offsite meeting sure seem to point to a major overhaul required in the HR approach of the company:

  1. Employee Satisfaction Went Down
  2. Lack of “Listening Skills” at the Very Top
  3. Confused Strategy and Mismanagement
  4. Product Silo’s Competing Against One Another Instead of Complimenting Each Other

While the ones above are issues that all the leaders face, Mayer’s herself apparently made a number of decisions which as turned the team sour towards here. A few which have been pointed out include:

  1. Making Decisions on Products Which went Against Recommendations of the Team
  2. Hiring Executives Without Getting Buy In From Relevant Stakeholders
  3. Micromanaging

Just last week, I discussed a number of reasons as to why CEO’s often fail. That list included:

  • Hiring people who leaders have previously worked with instead of those that would fit well into their new company
  • Being driven by power and ego rather than unlearning old ways and adapting to new
  • Fearing competition from the team instead of growing them for succession
  • Assuming you know all rather than taking the time out to learn what the new company requires
  • Always believing you are right instead of listening to people around you

I am in no way saying that I know what Mayer did wrong – I think only those who were closest to her at the company and were well versed in its culture and challenges can look at the past 3 years and highlight would could have been done differently. But I do wonder, why now? Why have so many senior people decided to leave the company, nearly all together, this year. This timeline created by Forbes is just absolutely fascinating. Can you imagine what this kind of change would do to the morale, engagement and culture of an organization? Even if Mayer is able to recover from this challenge (some people think she’s going to use the upcoming birth of her twins as her exit strategy), the amount of damage control she’s going to have to do is simply mind blowing.

This is going to be a very interesting story to follow. I really do hope to see her succeed. Women in key leadership positions are in dire need for gender equality across the globe. I’d love to hear what you think about her progress at Yahoo and where you think all this is going to end up. Connect with me on Twitter and share your view.

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