Aug 10

CEOs: feeling the love

In the wake of CEO Mark Hurd’s “resignation” (wink) last week at HP, quite a few stories have popped up about the man’s lovability quotient. Apparently, they weren’t exactly weeping in the halls over there.

This brings up an interesting subject. That is, exactly how do employees feel about their own CEOs at the major technology companies?

Turns out, there’s a site for that. Glassdoor.com offers “a free inside look at over 84,000 companies.” Here, employees can anonymously rate their own places of employment, so perspective employees can hear some straight talk before they sign on the dotted line. It’s hard to draw conclusions from this stuff, since negative voices are usually the loudest. But if you’re comparing one company’s loudest responses to another’s, you have to take notice when the differences are stark. And they are.

Let’s start with Mark Hurd’s pitifully low approval rating: 34%. This is in sharp contrast to Larry Ellison’s high 78% and Steve Jobs’ absurdly high 98%.

Common sense says that employees at successful companies will generally approve of their CEO’s performance. Yet HP has been very successful, and Hurd’s approval rating was in the tank.

Maybe it’s just that he was a tough guy? Well, Ellison and Jobs aren’t the most cuddly CEOs around — and their ratings are sky-high. So it seems that Mark Hurd really did have something special going for himself. He had that rare ability to push his company forward as he pushed his employees away.

Common sense also says that on a site inviting negativity, it would be virtually impossible for a CEO to score 98% approval as Jobs did. Not so difficult to understand, though. (A) Apple’s success is beyond phenomenal, and (B) tough as he can be, Steve Jobs demonstrates respect and responsibility for his employees. Cutting jobs is not the way Steve produces profit, and he does not wall himself off from employee contact.

And let’s not forget our friends Ballmer and Dell. They received 52% and 51% approval ratings, respectively. Sound roughly respectable? Nice middle-of-the-road numbers? Only if you’ve been conditioned by presidential approval polls. Personally, I find 50% to be shockingly low in a corporate poll. Unless your CEO had stolen your wallet or poured sugar in your gas tank, most would support him or her by default. 50% seems like a given, with bonus points for actual performance.

The fact that Ballmer and Dell dwell at the 50% level shows a lot of nothingness. Their failure has not been a matter of months, it’s been a matter of years. And when half your company wishes someone else had your job, it doesn’t bode well for your future.

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.