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When Scott Thompson took the job as Yahoo's chief executive in January, he likely knew he had difficult work ahead of him. To compete for shrinking advertising revenue against Google and Facebook, Thompson has announced a refocus on Yahoo's core media and communications, platforms, and data.

With this new focus, Yahoo will lay off about 2,000 employees, roughly 14% of the company. Thompson's email to employees explains the decision and then gives the bad news:

  Yahoo Layoff Memo 4-2012

Business communication students may find it interesting to compare Thompson's memo with  Yahoo layoff memos from the two previous CEOs:

Discussion Starters:

  • Thompson's email mentions "dignity and respect" twice. Does this represent a clever strategy, strong reinforcement, sloppy editing, or something else? How do you think employees might react to this phrase?
  • Compare the CEOs' emails. Consider audience focus, tone, organization, writing style, and editing.
  • Considering the different circumstances around each layoff, which memo do you think is most effective and why? 
  • If you were consulting with a CEO prior to announcing layoffs, what principles would you advise that he or she use in writing an email to employees?