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:
- Jerry Yang, Yahoo's founder and CEO from January 1994 to January 2009: October 2008 and December 2008 memos
- Carol Bartz, CEO from January 2009 to September 2011: December 2010 memo
- 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?