Monday, March 4, 2013

Yahoo! edicts and coping with big workplace change

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer set the business world abuzz this week with her edict that Yahoo! employees will no longer be able to work from home. Many viewpoints from both sides of this decision have surfaced, with some considering her a hero while others reviling her for an apparent attack on work-life balance and other morale-killing signals it sends.

No matter how the issue is examined, Yahoo! employees affected by the decision are facing big change. Their lives will be disrupted and the way they work will be drastically different. Some might be considering whether or not they want to continue with the company. Before they make any drastic decisions there are some career coaching questions I would ask these employees to help them better come to terms with the change in front of them:

1. What does this change mean to you? I would have Yahoo! employees imagine themselves as a fly-on-the-wall in a room, observing how they cope with this decision. What behaviors are they noticing? What feelings are they experiencing? These observations will help them to understand what the change means for them and help them articulate their perspectives on the change.

2. What is hard to let go of? Yahoo! employees need to be direct about what they are ultimately struggling to let go of. Concerns about the commute, the alternate child-care arrangements, and the lack of work-life balance are really masks covering up underlying feelings of distrust, unfairness, and a lack of respect. This question elicits the surface "hurts," which lead to the feeling beneath. Articulating these feelings will enable them to spend some time with them, processing and contemplating.

3. How is your perspective serving you? All of our feelings serve us in some way, even feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, and unfairness. Yahoo! employees need to get clear about how these  feelings are helping them, which may seem like a strange question at first but makes sense in the context of moving forward. When we understand our perspective and how it serves us we can decide whether to indulge this perspective or another one.

4. What's possible now? The decision to eliminate the work-from-home privilege has been made and there is no changing it. This question gives Yahoo! employees a chance to consider the future...a future they can create. Maybe what's possible is looking for a new job, or relishing the opportunity to create stronger collaborative relationships with co-workers. Some might view this opportunity to make their mark on the company or decide that a Silicon Valley job isn't for them. Possibilities abound through whatever the employee wants to create, so long as he/she is feeling empowered by the decision.

How would you approach a change like this in your workplace? Leave your comments below.

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