Uber leads—and Oracle lags—in survey of CEO comms skills

In a poll of 10,000 employees conducted by Ragan and Blind, the transportation company rebounded after controversies. Not every firm, nor their top leaders, fared so well.

CEO comms survey

After years of controversy surrounding Uber’s leadership, its employees appear confident in the communication skills of its new chief executive officer.

Technology giants Oracle, Intel and Google, however, have their work cut out for them, judging from a new survey of almost 10,000 employees by Ragan and Blind, an anonymous social network for professionals.

“The degree of contrast between … the company with the highest approval and the lowest approval was pretty shocking,” says Blind Marketing Manager Curie Kim.

The survey consisted of a single question: “True or False: My CEO does a good job of engaging with and communicating to employees in our organization.”

Among the 9,753 respondents, an average of 52% answered “true,” with 48% registering discontent with the top dog’s communication and engagement skills.

Blind verifies employers based on workplace email address, so the results reflect only opinions about respondents’ own chief executive.

At San Francisco-based Uber, new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi earned cheers from 86% of employees, with LinkedIn (83%) and Facebook (74%) stepping up to the silver and bronze platforms.

Microsoft and Amazon also fared well, tying with a 71% vote of thumbs-up. (See the results below.)

Oracle ranks last

At the back of the pack, only 34% of Intel employees and 11% of those at Oracle expressed confidence in the CEO’s communication and engagement skills. Google rated 10 points below average, with only 42% answering “true.”

A spokeswoman for Intel noted that the company had just appointed its CEO, Robert Swan, on Jan. 31, but she did not provide further comment. Other organizations ranked in the top three and bottom three did not immediately respond to a Ragan request for comment.

Blind often conducts surveys in partnership with major news outlets, says Kim. The goal is to spark discussions about the workplace, including employee sentiment toward leadership.

“The approval of CEOs and the degree of satisfaction with the CEO’s communication can be a direct reflection on employee happiness, job satisfaction, and agreement with the direction of the company,” Kim says.

Watching what the CEO says

The Blind/Ragan poll results are likely to get the attention of the companies named, said Larry Emond, managing director of Gallup Global Leadership Advisory. (Gallup had nothing to do with our poll, but the organization consults with major companies worldwide.)

The issue of CEOs’ influence often comes up in Emond’s discussions with executives from major companies around the globe, he says. What CEOs communicate internally is absolutely crucial.

“It’s hard to believe that in a company of, say, 100,00 people or 300,000 people, a single person would have that much influence,” Emond says. “But the reality is that the big company CEO does. They do. And everything they say and everything they do is very, very closely watched by everyone.”

That said, the CEO is nowhere near as important in an individual employee’s work life as one’s own boss, Emond adds.

Asked what the results mean for companies at the bottom end of the scale, Kim says it provides a window into sentiment.

“We are able to see the honest sentiment of these employees and sign of disappointment towards their CEO for the companies at the lower end of the scale,” Kim says. “These employees believe that their CEO has not communicated well, and that they may not agree with the leadership decisions that the CEO has been making.”

Google’s poor showing could indicate confusion about who is in charge after the company rebranded the parent company as Alphabet but kept the name Google for one entity under its umbrella.

At that time, Sundar Pichai took over as CEO of Google. Google founder Larry Page became Alphabet’s chief executive, while co-founder Sergey Brin became president of Alphabet.

Apparently, not all employees were making sense of this. In a separate survey this month, Blind found that employees had different answers to the question, “Who’s in charge at Google today—CEO Sundar Pichai or the company’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin?”

A total of 59% of Google employees answered Pichai, while 41% thought Page and Brin were in charge.

By contrast, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg retained strong support in another Blind survey in January, despite controversies over data use in recent years. The company is expected to shell out a fine of up to $5 billion amid a Federal Trade Commission investigation into its handling of user data, as was reported on PR Daily.

Only 17% of Facebook employees answered “Yes,” to Blind’s question, “Has Mark Zuckerberg devalued Facebook?”

In response to a follow-up question—“Should Zuckerberg remain as CEO at FB?”—a full 83% answered, “Yes.”

Below are the survey results

True or False: My CEO does a good job of engaging with and communicating to employees in our organization.

Company Name       TRUE FALSE
Uber 86% 14%
LinkedIn 83% 16%
Facebook 74% 26%
Microsoft 71% 28%
Amazon 71% 29%
NVIDIA 61% 39%
Apple 57% 43%
Overall       52% 48%
Google 42% 58%
Intel 34% 65%
Oracle 11% 89%



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