Yahoo To Lay Off Employees: 5 Reasons CEO Bartz Should Join Them

Last Updated Dec 14, 2010 2:06 PM EST

Once again, Yahoo (YHOO) is expected to lay off employees -- somewhere between 600 and 700, or upwards of 5 percent of the company's workforce. Presumably, it's a Christmas present for investors... and lumps of coal for those who lose their jobs. The cuts would supposedly come from the products group, which creates the services that Yahoo can sell to make money. Who's next? The sales people who close the deals?

Layoffs are a tacit admission that CEO Carol Bartz has failed as a CEO. Brought in by the board, she was supposed to turn the company around. Instead, she has fallen short repeatedly while using cost cutting and stock buybacks as attempts to appease investors. Bartz has failed to find a strategy that can cure Yahoo and instead amputates limbs in hopes of shrinking what needs to be sustained. Maybe what the investors and company actually need is for Bartz to get a pink slip:
  1. The supposed turnaround of the company has been foundering for nearly two years. It's reasonable to give a new chief executive time to get results. But at some point, it becomes obvious that the person either can't or won't deliver. Whether Bartz's problem is an issue of vision, strategy, or execution doesn't matter. The company is going nowhere.
  2. Bartz is the wrong type of turnaround executive for Yahoo. Her reaction to everything seems to be cutting costs or placating investors. Both are necessary, but a company needs a compelling vision of what it could be and a strategy to get there. Bartz has shown neither.
  3. At a minimum, you should be able to expect a CEO to keep his or her mouth shut instead of creating bigger problems by yapping to the press. An occasional gaffe is human. To slip on a regular basis is inexcusable.
  4. Keeping investors happy is important. Doing so by spending money you don't have on a stock buyback program is reckless. And a good CEO shouldn't be reckless.
  5. Executives have continued to exit the building about as fast as they could shoulder their way out the front door. When you're turning around an organization, some personnel attrition is necessary. But when the drain continues -- especially when you start losing the very people you brought in to fix things -- it suggests an enormous HR problem that starts at the top of the organization.
Bartz has likened herself to Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs. Who knows? She might be right ... other than being completely unable to do what he accomplished. According to Andrew Sorkin at the New York Times, the smart money gives her a year at most to fix things or lose her job. But, really, what will a third year do? It's time for Bartz to move on and Yahoo to find someone who might have a clue about what the company should do.

Related: Layoffs Image: Flickr user lisa.williams, CC 2.0.
  • Erik Sherman On Twitter»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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