Thursday, September 08, 2011
What can one say about a board that fires the CEO by phone call? It opens the directors to accusations of insensitivity and ham-handed PR. Yes, there was urgency to relay the decision to the now-departed CEO of Yahoo, but couldn't someone have arranged a face-to-face meeting in the nearest airport? There is never a good way to tell someone she is fired, but it reflects on the person who does the dismissal by how it is done. Even if the board was deeply unhappy with her lack of effectiveness and wanted to act immediately, a few extra hours to travel to see her personally would have been a more personal touch that reflected better on the directors. The next CEO of Yahoo, if there is one, will know that the board can act precipitously. Maybe that is for the best, but no one would blame a new CEO for looking over his shoulder.
Yahoo's reasons for firing their CEO were justified, if a senior-level employee is not holding their company to the best possible standards then they are clearly not being as efficient as possible. However, under no circumstances would it ever be in good, professional taste to fire such a high level employee via telephone. Business etiquette should have been considered in this case and been done in person out of respect for her work at the company. In addition, Carol Bartz's mass e-mail to Yahoo's 13,000+ employees informing them of her unemployment and the way she was fired was immature and unnecessary. While at the time she was more than likely (and justifiably) upset with the situation, she only created more negative PR for herself through her actions.