Yahoo CEO Does What To Job Applicants?

NPR Journalist Aarti Shahani reports, on the August 1st, 2016 airing of Morning Edition, something startling and surprising about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Ms. Shahani reports that ”To this day, she [Yahoo CEO Ms. Mayer] reads the resume of every person Yahoo considers hiring. That can be 50 a week, and she has to okay each and every one. She says her job is to pick strong candidates and then to remove obstacles so they can do their thing.”

Shouldn’t this make anyone in talent acquisition’s skin crawl? While it might not be out of the ordinary for a CEO to sign off on new hires, that does not seem to be what is described in the interview with the CEO. It seems as if Marissa Mayer needed to micromanage the hiring of every single person in this mega-company.

Perhaps overlooking or ignoring the irony, Mayer describes her task, according to Ms. Shahani, as picking strong candidates and getting out of the way. This must make every head of recruiting, VP of HR, and talent acquisition manager’s hair stand up on the back of their necks! How does ”removing obstacles so they can do their thing” meld with reviewing each resume of a candidate someone wants to hire? These concepts seem completely at odds.

The issue here, aside from seemingly gross micromanagement, is trust. Did the CEO trust her talent acquisition team? If she did not when she started 4 years ago at Yahoo, why did she not bring in her own people? And if she did, then why the micromanagement?

Do You Trust Me?

Trust would have truly allowed Ms. Mayer to remove the obstacle of herself from the hiring process. She needed to trust that a senior manager can hire the right person for his or her team, only stepping in for management and high-level positions. While there is nothing wrong with creating an interview process which seeks the opinions of many, is that the same as the CEO reviewing each resume?! This author does not think so.

The story continues that ”Mayer loved new ideas,” describing the CEO Challenge, which challenges employees to submit their innovative ideas for the company. While there were surely numerous good ideas submitted, the winner won by submitting an idea that the company already did – selling patents. ”Her former employees say that Mayer got caught up in micromanaging small stuff, like the weather app.” Citing a conversation with a former employee, Ms. Shahani reports, that the perception was that ”the CEO threw time she didn’t have into the part of the business that’s fun, but will never turn a profit.” Building this out with what Ms. Shahani reported earlier in the story, it is maddening to consider the thousands of Yahoo employees soon out of the job due to Ms. Mayer’s micromanagement of the hiring process and personal review of each resume.

What Could Have Been

While this might seem a harsh critique, the issue is that the CEO will be greatly financially rewarded for selling the company, while the employees will soon be out of a job. If only there had been enough trust, then perhaps there would have been less micromanagement and more chances taken on whatever projects were overlooked by the CEO Challenge, the sole ownership of Saturday Night Live digital content, or the massive talent that is Katie Couric.

Perhaps then Yahoo would not be recently acquired by Verizon and instead it would be on the buyer’s side. While technology can make or break a company, it is ultimately the trust that managers put in their employees which can save a company. To really get of out the way, a CEO needs to listen to what tools a recruiter needs and deliver those tools, rather than deliver a CEO looking over the shoulder of the people that CEO trusts to find excellent employees.

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