Thursday, September 8, 2011

Who or what is a Doofus ?

I freely admit to not having a clue about what a "doofus" was, until today, if you will pardon the pun. For, apparently, a doofus is a guy who doesn't have a clue. My vocabulary has since improved by one, thanks to Carol Bartz, the ousted CEO of Yahoo  who called her Board which ousted her, a bunch of doofuses.

Everything about the Yahoo saga stinks. Carol Bartz was fired by her Chairman over the phone. It has brought into question again how firings are done. Not just firing a CEO, but firing any employee. Firing by phone or by email must surely rank as one of the worst blunders you can make in a company. Topped only by having a security guard present and showing the employee to the door. Employees deserve to be told in person that they are fired and also told the reason why they are fired. The reason may have nothing to do with their performance - we are making losses and have to cut costs and you got the short end of the straw, is perfectly acceptable if that is the honest truth. If the employee is surprised that he or she is being fired, then clearly the boss hasn't done his job. Firings are rarely required overnight. You can see it coming and its the boss's job to be open and forthright in communication with the employee. The Board of Yahoo displayed appalling behaviour in firing Carol Bartz over the phone.

Carol hasn't covered herself with glory either. In her now famous mail to employees, she wrote "I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board". She then proceeded to give an interview to Fortune where she has contributed to the increase in the vocabulary of bloggers like me. She also apparently said that " they  f---ed me over". She is going to collect a $10m severance pay but she may have put that in jeopardy because the severance agreement has the usual non disparagement clause (you don't throw garbage at the company, in lay man terms)

Then a pompous know it all (correction - rich pompous know it all) called Daniel Loeb who runs a hedge fund and has taken a stake in Yahoo writes a public letter asking for the Chairman of the Board to go and then naming a few directors who in his opinion have to go too. 

Excellent. With such worthy managers, Board and investors, what chance do the employees of Yahoo have. I am a regular user of Yahoo and its quite good at some of the things it does. But what a mess. Which sensible guy will now be willing to be the CEO. Probably only a guy who has some familiarity with doofusism !