Case Study Analysis Yahoo`s Marissa Meyer

  • Uncategorized

CaseStudy Analysis: Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer


Managementof the operations and processes within an organization necessitatesthe use of appropriate skills aimed at creating awareness andcollaboration between the germane stakeholders. These elements allowmanagers to utilize practical decision-making skills regarding thepath or process the organization should follow in any situation(Rock, 2011). However, the achievement of these processes requiresthe consideration of various aspects such as involvement of thepersonnel in decision-making, assessment of the available resourcesand those needed to initiate any change and consultation with otherprofessionals.

Mostimportantly, leaders within organizations need to understand thecultural, racial, gender and socio-economic backgrounds of theirpersonnel to determine their areas of expertise. These aspects wouldalso allow the leaders to evaluate possible areas of change andrestructuring based on the abilities of the employees. The absenceand improper use of such factors would eventually result inresistance from the employees as well as a decline in theorganization’s performance (Goleman and Boyatzis, 2008). Theessence of the current study aims at diagnosing the current situationat Yahoo based on the information available. It will focus onMarissa’s leadership style within the context of Yahoo to providean appropriate consultation approach that would boost and guide herstrategies to ensure the improvement of the organization’sperformance.


WhenMayer Marissa was employed at the Yahoo Company, the terms involvedincluded salvaging the organization from collapsing based on thedecline in revenues and profits acquired each year. However, a fewmonths on the job did not indicate any signs of change in theprogress of the company’s performance. Nevertheless, she guaranteedthat the organization would still rise to greater heights regardlessof the situation. For instance, Mayer accentuated that despite theredundancy in the organization’s revenues obtained from differentoperations, there existed signs of growth. Mayer’s primaryobjective at the organization entailed returning the company to thelevel of their biggest competitors (Nicholas Carlson, 2014). However,the company faced significant challenges such as losing its clientsto companies such as eBay, Google, and Craigslist. It thus sought torevamp its strategies through increasing its revenues and henceMayer’s appointment. Some of the board members to the organizationresolved at hiring Mayer based on her success in boosting Google’sperformance through developing the user interface search engine asthe engineer in charge of the operation. Despite consultation withthe recruitment department, the board members proceeded to hire Mayerwithout consideration of her flaws or ability to resolve the issuesat Yahoo. The executive recruiter officer had warned them that Mayerhad accumulated hefty amounts of wealth from Google and would thus bechoosy in the jobs she wanted (Nicholas Carlson, 2014).

Someof the flaws associated with Mayer’s former employment positionentailed a loss to a struggle between her and another prominentengineer that saw her reassigned from the C.E.O. to other operationswithin the company. The problem, in this case, entailed the fact theboard members were blinded by the success of the individual based onher accomplishment in one field (Martiny-Huenger, Gollwitzer andOettingen, 2014). They did not evaluate her ability or skills inresolving the issue at Yahoo. Additionally, one of Mayer’ biggestchallenge entailed reviving Yahoo as a product company as opposed toa technology organization. On her second week at the organization,Mayer came up with a strategy that would keep all personnel updatedwith the aim of making it desirable to work. She also initiatedchanges in the gadgets and structures the employees’ used.

Thetransition also involved restructuring the procedures and policiesused within the company to advanced and contemporary strategies. Shealso reduced the company’s product portfolio from more than ahundred to about a dozen which resulted in resistance and confusionamong the employees (Hogeveen,&nbspInzlicht,and Obhi, 2014).The problem in the change initiative involved the implementation ofnew strategies without consideration of the potential effects thatwould occur. For instance, when Mayer met with the executive incharge of Mail and Messenger, she demanded that the engineermanagement department should develop a Yahoo Mail app within a shorttime-frame.

Thefailure in most company’s operations occurs due to hindrances tocommunicate proper ways in which a transition may be implemented. Forinstance, Mayer’s leadership style indicated authoritative demandsthrough the immersion of the redesign in areas she deemed suitablefor change. She also used her leadership mandate to oversee all theoperations carried out within the organization without including theother stakeholders in the decision-making, critical thinking andplanning processes (Olsson, Ebert, Banaji and Phelps, 2005). In somecases, Mayer would use her mandate to interrogate designers regardingthe smallest details of the products and services. These approachestended to intimidate the employees who were forced to work for longerhours over the details of a product they had already concluded. Forinstance, one day before the Yahoo Mail app was released to thepublic, Mayer instructed the designers to alter the product’s colorfrom blue and gray to purple.

Thisabrupt change drew controversies from the designers who had mixedreactions. Some argued that the last minute change indicated Mayer’sdevotion to delivering quality products to their clients. They thusadvocated for the modification with the belief that changing a fewaspects of the product would result in an increment in the revenuesobtained (Santos,&nbspMeyer-Lindenberg,&nbsp&ampDeruelle,2010). Contrastingly, other employees opposed the abrupt change withclaims that it would require them to work on the compound productthroughout the night.

Accordingto research, disparities exist between male and female leadershipstyles. Men tend to indulge in the most pertinent facts regarding ajob description while women focus on all the elements regarding thejob. Besides, these difference occur due to the way people perceiveand interpret information (Lieberman et al., 2005). For instance, inMayer’s case, she began working at Yahoo while six months pregnantand aimed at gearing the company towards better productivity andperformance. The achievement of her goals involved leading heremployees by example where she would regularly work for longer hoursand at a fast pace. These physical attributes contributed towardsMayer’s unveiling of more products where within a period of twomonths she oversaw the development of about 37 new appearances whilethe company had only managed to test five looks within one yearbefore her arrival.

Nevertheless,the accomplishment of such strategies involved pressure, authorityand at times threats (Uzefovsky et al., 2014). For instance, Mayerhad planned to overhaul the company’s search engine, but she wantedit done within a short period. She demanded that the designers shouldunveil the search product by the end of that year and if they couldnot handle the task, Mayer would find people the necessary skillset.This incident indicates the use of power to influence people to worktogether towards the achievement of the desired goals. The strategiesemployed by Mayer in her leadership style bring about problemsrelated to the operation and presence of power dynamics in personal,social and professional relationships.

Accordingto Cook, Bird, Catmur, Press and Heyes (2014), the things and eventsthat happen in peoples’ brains interactions accentuate the skillsand truths of an effective leader. Similarly, the things that leadersparticipate in portray various emotions and feelings that becomecustomary to the moods of their followers. Resultantly, they affectthe leaders’ brain chemistry as well as that of their supporters,specifically their employees. The authors also accentuate the factthat the leader-follower dynamic does not only involve two or moreindependent brains that react in conscious or unconscious mannertowards each other (Cook, Bird, Catmur, Press and Heyes, 2014).

InMayer’s case, her brain functionality portrayed her ambitions andgoals towards driving Yahoo to the level it deserved. However, herinteraction with the employees described a different objective inthat she pursued activities without engaging them in processes suchas making decisions and solving problems (Gray, Ishii and Ambady,2011). For instance, while working for Google, Mayer’sresponsibility entailed determining how their products worked andlooked but she lacked the skills to earn revenue from them. On theother hand, at Yahoo, Mayer’s role required her to employ anindividual who would assist in the monetization and employeemanagement processes. Contrastingly, within a few weeks of working atthe company, Mayer hired a former employee from Google based on thefact that he possessed reliable information regarding Yahoo (Gray,Ishii and Ambady, 2011).

Interlandi(2015) indicate that the brain contains a combination of mirrorneurons whose primary purpose entails detecting certain emotions suchas joy and happiness which in turn prompt similar effects. Forinstance, they point out that self-controlled and stern leaders whoseldom engage their neurons in teams or to their followers. Theemployees at Yahoo had mixed reactions about Mayer’s leadershipstyles because her lack of appreciation and involvement demoralizedthem. Some argued that Mayer lacked the necessary instincts to drivethe company towards achieving the objectives they sought (Interlandi,2015). For instance, she lacked crucial information regarding thecompany’s operations and would show up late for interviews andmeetings with executives from other influential companies.Nevertheless, some of her actions may have focused on the growth ofthe enterprise, but the reliance on Steve Job’s strategies wouldtake the company longer to realize such objectives.

Approachto the Consultation

Accordingto Lieberman and Eisenberger (2009), the functioning of the brainsindicates that physical pain possesses similar effects to humansuffering. When a leader within an organization fails to include andinvolve their employees as well as stakeholders, they bring aboutsocial and physical pain. The authors focus on studies conducted todetermine whether human pain in people employs similar neuralcircuitry as physical pain. The determination of these aspectsindicated that the exclusion of participants towards a particularactivity brings about both social and physical pain (Lieberman andEisenberger, 2009). Therefore, the consultation with Mayer Melissawill focus on elaborating these facts based on evidence obtained fromvarious peer-reviewed studies on the subject of psychological issuesthat may boost effective leadership.

Thesocial neuroscience approach would serve as the appropriate approachin Mayer’s case in that it provides an integration of methods andtheories about psychology that facilitate in addressing issuesregarding social behavior at various levels of analysis (Amodio,2008). Similarly, the approach has been applied to a variety ofrelations among groups based on the fact that it provides a vastarray of information on the connection between societal,interpersonal and group processes. Research conducted on the topicindicates that there exist complex issues related to personalprejudices against advancements in technology. According to Amodio(2008), social neuroscience describes a strategy in psychologicalresearch that creates an incorporation between an individual’sbrain functionality to the mechanisms of their behavior in society.

Theessence of the social neuroscience approach entails guiding Mayer onhow to channel her thoughts into words that can be implementedthrough incorporating the stakeholders. The evaluations andstereotypes regarding people within an organization have a connectionwith the human targets through a network of semantic associations(Lieberman et al., 2007). According to research, Mayer Melissainitiated the evaluation of the employees based on their performanceand productivity to the company. This brought about negativity amongthe employees who felt that the assessment would affect their jobpositions as some leaders would apply conceptual priming in ratingtheir performance.

Theneuro-leadership perspectives accentuated through intrapersonalcommunication will require a constant and regular working relationwith Mayer with the aim of teaching her how to prevent effects fromsocial status on her welfare and those of the employees (Hein,Silani, Preuschoff, Batson and Singer, 2010). For instance, usingrelevant information, it would be necessary to portray how selectiveattention to the employees working in a particular departmentinfluences their biasedness in a systematic manner. Therefore, Iwould advise Mayer to avoid close supervision of the employee’swork and only enquire for updates whenever necessary (Hein, Silani,Preuschoff, Batson and Singer, 2010). Besides, with the aim ofachieving positive attitudes among the employees, I would show Mayerbetter ways of identifying with and tolerating people she perceivesas outsiders.


Theconsultation process will occur three times in a week based onMayer’s schedule, although, it will require close attention to herimplementation of the decisions agreed upon by the entire company.Therefore, given her attitude and if the meetings seem excessive, Iwill assess her based on the accomplishment of various tasks such asdecision-making and problem-solving processes (Wooley et al., 2010).These factors also necessitate the incorporation of otherstakeholders such as the managers in the various departments at thecompany as well as subordinates working close to Mayer. They willprovide pertinent information regarding how Mayer coordinatesmeetings as well as whether she incorporates them in making decisionsregarding the processes of the company. The goal of integrating themanagement team entails creating an image of the ideas she seeks toimplement and the channels that they should pursue in accomplishingthe necessary tasks (Woolley et al., 2010).

Theachievement of the factors mentioned above will involve resultsobtained from the success of a particular function as well asfeedback from the stakeholders. The feedback will be acquired throughan assessment sheet filled by department managers on how Mayerperformed. However, the evaluation sheets will remain anonymous onwhich particular individual indicated their responses with the aim ofeliminating biasedness (Bosman, 2012). This way, Mayer will get toknow how she performed based on the results and the areas that needimprovement. Additionally, her brain functionality will portray themechanisms she perceives and pursues while working with others. Theseelements will allow the other employees to understand the way Mayerthinks and interprets information and possibly work towards theaccomplishment of the tasks based on her guidelines and requirements.

Outcomesof the Intervention

Theincorporation of proper measures in managing an organization requirescollaboration between the stakeholders with the aim of achieving thedesired goals. Therefore, if Mayer follows the appropriate tactics,she will manage to lure the employees as well as the stakeholderstowards working together in boosting the company’s performance.Additionally, Mayer should collaboratively work hand-in-hand with theemployees through involving them in decision-making andproblem-solving skills. This means that she ought to ask for theiropinions, delegate responsibilities and offer rewards when theysucceed (Christopher, 2014).

Onthe other hand, the employees should learn to understand thedifferences between people based on the race, ethnicity and societalperceptive and brain functionality. Most importantly, for Mayer togain the employees support and trust, she should engage them in morecasual tasks which necessitate collaboration with the aim ofidentifying their talents and skills in various areas(Halperin,&nbspPorat,&nbspTamir,&nbspandGross, 2013).This should occur through team-building forums and parties where theymay interact and share ideas. These may be followed closely bychallenges with rewards for the department that develops outstandingproducts and processes. These strategies would ensure that Mayersustains the changes made throughout the process.


Effectiveleadership necessitates collaboration in all levels without negativeevaluation of the employees based on their flaws and shortcomings.Leaders ought to understand, the diversity among their followers anddevelop structures of how they could channel the diversity towardsthe achievement of the organization’s objectives. The right way toensure that leaders remain focused on such goals entails workingclosely with them and updating them on the progress on variousprojects. On the other hand, leaders should learn how to identifytalent and skills among their parents through delegating skills tothose in lower management levels. Administration of the operationsand processes within an organization necessitates the use ofappropriate skills aimed at creating awareness and collaborationbetween the relevant stakeholders. The emphasis on these elementsallows managers to utilize practical decision-making skills regardingthe path or process the organization should follow in any situation.However, the achievement of these processes requires theconsideration of various aspects such involvement of the personnel indecision-making, assessment of the available resources and thoseneeded to initiate any change and consultation with otherprofessionals. Most importantly, leaders within organizations need tounderstand the cultural, racial, gender and socio-economicbackgrounds of their personnel to determine their areas of expertise.These aspects would also allow the leaders to evaluate possible areasof change and restructuring based on the abilities of the employees.The absence and improper use of such factors would eventually resultin resistance from the employees as well as a decline in theorganization’s performance.


Amodio,&nbspD.&nbspM.(2008). European Review of Social Psychology.&nbspThesocial neuroscience of intergroup relations,&nbsp19,1-54. Doi: 10.1080/10463280801927937

Bosman,&nbspM.(2012). The Neuroscience of Conditioned Racism.&nbspTheNeuroscience of Conditioned Racism,&nbsp3,1-11. Retrieved from

Catmur,&nbspC.,&amp Heyes,&nbspC. (2013). Is It What You Do, or When You Do It?The Roles of Contingency and Similarity in Pro-Social Effects ofImitation.&nbspCognitiveScience,&nbsp37(8),1541-1552. doi:10.1111/cogs.12071

Christophervon Rueden. (2014, December 12). How Social Status Affects YourHealth – The New York Times. Retrieved from

Cook,&nbspR.,Bird,&nbspG., Catmur,&nbspC., Press,&nbspC., &amp Heyes,&nbspC.(2014). Mirror neurons: From origin to function.&nbspBehavioraland Brain Sciences,&nbsp37(02),177-192. Doi: 10.1017/s0140525x13000903

Eisenberger,&nbspN.&nbspI.,Lieberman,&nbspM.&nbspD., &amp Williams,&nbspK.&nbspD. (2003).Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI Study of SocialExclusion.&nbspScience,&nbsp302(5643),290-292. doi:10.1126/science.1089134

Goleman,&nbspD.,&amp Boyatzis,&nbspR. (2008). Social intelligence and the biologyof leadership.&nbspHarvardBusiness Review,&nbsp86(9),74-81.

Gray,&nbspH.&nbspM.,Ishii,&nbspK., &amp Ambady,&nbspN. (2011). Misery LovesCompany.&nbspPersonalityand Social Psychology Bulletin,&nbsp37(11),1438-1448. Doi: 10.1177/0146167211420167

Halperin,&nbspE.,Porat,&nbspR., Tamir,&nbspM., &amp Gross,&nbspJ.&nbspJ. (2013).Can Emotion Regulation Change Political Attitudes in IntractableConflicts? From the Laboratory to the Field.&nbspPsychologicalScience,&nbsp24(1),106-111. Doi: 10.1177/0956797612452572

Hein,&nbspG.,Silani,&nbspG., Preuschoff,&nbspK., Batson,&nbspC.&nbspD., &ampSinger,&nbspT. (2010). Neural Responses to In-group and OutgroupMembers` Suffering Predict Individual Differences in CostlyHelping.&nbspNeuron,&nbsp68(1),149-160. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.09.003

Hogeveen,&nbspJ.,Inzlicht,&nbspM., &amp Obhi,&nbspS.&nbspS. (2014). Power changeshow the brain responds to others.&nbspJournalof Experimental Psychology: General,&nbsp143(2),755-762. Doi: 10.1037/a0033477

Interlandi,&nbspJ.(2015, March 19). The Brain`s Empathy Gap – The New York Times.Retrieved from

Lieberman,&nbspM.&nbspD.,Eisenberger,&nbspN.&nbspI., Crockett,&nbspM.&nbspJ., Tom,&nbspS.&nbspM.,Pfeifer,&nbspJ.&nbspH., &amp Way,&nbspB.&nbspM. (2007). PuttingFeelings into Words: Affect Labeling Disrupts Amygdala Activity inResponse to Affective Stimuli.&nbspPsychologicalScience,&nbsp18(5),421-428. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01916.x

Lieberman,&nbspM.&nbspD.,&amp Eisenberger,&nbspN.&nbspI. (2009). NEUROSCIENCE: Pains andPleasures of Social Life.&nbspScience,&nbsp323(5916),890-891. doi:10.1126/science.1170008

Lieberman,&nbspM.&nbspD.,Hariri,&nbspA., Jarcho,&nbspJ.&nbspM., Eisenberger,&nbspN.&nbspI.,&amp Bookheimer,&nbspS.&nbspY. (2005). An fMRI investigation ofrace-related amygdala activity in African-American andCaucasian-Americanindividuals.&nbspNatureNeuroscience,&nbsp8(6),720-722. Doi: 10.1038/nn1465

Martiny-Huenger,&nbspT.,Gollwitzer,&nbspP.&nbspM., &amp Oettingen,&nbspG. (2014).Selective Attention to In- and Out-Group Members SystematicallyInfluences Intergroup Bias.&nbspSocialPsychological and Personality Science,&nbsp5(8),936-943. Doi: 10.1177/1948550614541296

NicholasCarlson. (2014, December 17). What Happened When Marissa Mayer Triedto Be Steve Jobs?&nbspTheNew York Times Magazine,22.

Olsson,&nbspA.,Ebert,&nbspJ.&nbspP., Banaji,&nbspM.&nbspR., &amp Phelps,&nbspE.&nbspA.(2005). The Role of Social Groups in the Persistence of LearnedFear.&nbspScience,&nbsp309(5735),785-787. doi:10.1126/science.1113551

Rock,&nbspD.(2011). Managing with the Brain in Mind.

Santos,&nbspA.,Meyer-Lindenberg,&nbspA., &amp Deruelle,&nbspC. (2010). Absence ofracial, but not gender, stereotyping in Williams syndromechildren.&nbspCurrentBiology,&nbsp20(7),R307-R308. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.02.009

Uzefovsky,&nbspF.,Shalev,&nbspI., Israel,&nbspS., Edelman,&nbspS., Raz,&nbspY.,Perach-Barzilay,&nbspN., Ebstein,&nbspR.&nbspP. (2014). TheDopamine D4 receptor gene shows a gender-sensitive association withcognitive empathy: Evidence from two independentsamples.&nbspEmotion,&nbsp14(4),712-721. Doi: 10.1037/a0036555

Woolley,&nbspA.&nbspW.,Chabris,&nbspC.&nbspF., Pentland,&nbspA., Hashmi,&nbspN., &ampMalone,&nbspT.&nbspW. (2010). Evidence for a CollectiveIntelligence Factor in the Performance of HumanGroups.&nbspScience,&nbsp330(6004),686-688. doi:10.1126/science.1193147