Yahoo! to the Power of Alignment

“We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

With those words in a February memo, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer barred employees from working at home and set off a firestorm of controversy. Employee reactions ranged from annoyance to outright betrayal, loudly shared with national press and anyone else who would listen.

Today it’s hard to imagine that Mayer just celebrated her first anniversary, a feat her three immediate predecessors were unable to pull off. Even more amazing, Mayer’s average employee approval rating on is 85 percent and Yahoo! is once again a destination workplace, importing engineering and product management talent from Google and newly acquired startups. 

The telecommuting ban drew bad press, but Yahoo! also introduced an improved communication strategy that favored face-to-face employee interaction and teamwork – plus perks such as free food and extended leave for new parents. By changing the company’s hiring process and keeping the company's 11,500 employees in house, Mayer developed an aligned and strengthened employee base that helped her execute new business strategies for Yahoo!, according to a recent Talent Management story.

Yahoo!’s fate is anything but assured, but its success so far perfectly illustrates the power of alignment. The fact is, a company in crisis tends to galvanize a workforce – employees understand the threat and what part they play in helping their employer. An organization and its employees tend to row in the same direction. But why can’t this same dynamic exist during normal circumstances?

It’s clear that the relationship between employee performance and organizational well-being is indisputable. As our white paper explains, “Employee performance management isn’t something you establish at the beginning of a calendar year and to which you never refer back. Well-defined, attainable goals should be established where they don’t have to be modified and revisited each quarter. Once meaningful employee-specific goals have been put in place, those goals become the roadmap for the year -- providing a strong sense of direction for the employee as their performance relates to the organization.”

Leaders are equally crucial in communicating their vision and expectations. A 3- to 5-year plan– even one that is revisited and adjusted with some frequency – will facilitate progress within the organization. A good leader who takes the time and has interest in knowing the organization inside and out has a higher probability of generating a plan that resonates with everyone. 

Like the wheels on a car, it’s a simple law of physics that when alignment is lacking, there can be no forward movement. The same is true in the workplace: when strategic priorities have been set and these goals are cascaded throughout the organization, every employee gains a sense of ownership and accountability. The end result is an energized team with a clear vision.

To read more about the elements that comprise employee alignment, and how they relate to performance management, download our white paper entitled “The Importance of Alignment in Employee Performance Management” here.

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