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Reid Hoffman Defends Yahoo's Mayer on Asking for Exec Pledges to Stay

"It’s difficult to achieve long-term success without obtaining long-term commitments," says the LinkedIn chairman.

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In a blog post on the Harvard Business Review site, well-known tech figure (and all-around nice fella) Reid Hoffman defended Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer for asking top execs for a verbal or written commitment to remain at the company for several years.

Titled “Marissa Mayer Was Right to Ask Executives to Commit to Staying at Yahoo,” the post from the LinkedIn chairman noted that the effort did not backfire, referring to a Re/code piece on the move, which resulted in some major departures from Yahoo.

Wrote Hoffman: “Managers and employees have to build relationships based on trust and clear expectations, especially when an organization is going through significant changes. And that’s even more true of an executive or management team. Good managers know that it’s difficult to achieve long-term success without obtaining long-term commitments from employees.”

While most of the execs who left had been around through a lot of Mayer’s three-year tenure, Hoffman did note that she needed to ensure talent stability going forward.

“Consider the alternative: What if Mayer launched her new turnaround plan without speaking with her top executives about their own plans? Rather than having the time to find the right replacements, Mayer might have been forced to deal with replacing Yahoo’s European boss, marketing and media head and development chief while in the middle of a complex transition,” wrote Hoffman. “Before you begin an effort like this, you have to know that the whole team is ready to move forward together, with focus and concentration. They have to be all in.”

It’s a fair point, except that this group has been under fire for a while amid a stalled revival attempt. In addition, these agreements are largely done individually rather than on some more public level, as if it were a war.

But maybe it is — Hoffman described the situation as a “tour of duty,” which is probably as good a term as any to describe a tough turnaround.

Interestingly, inside sources said Mayer has asked Hoffman to serve on the Yahoo board, a position he has declined to take as yet.

In a follow-up email on the commitment pledges, Hoffman told me: “Essentially, it’s from the playbook from my/our book “The Alliance,” by which you have a mutual moral commitment. It’s how I/we believe you invest in the long-term of the company together with employees. And, it’s even more important when you are in the middle of a turnaround.”

And you can read him in full on Mayer here.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.