In Glassdoor’s CEO ratings system, derived from employee input, Apple’s Tim Cook fell from number 8 last year to 53 this year. Why?
Here’s the list from Glassdoor for 2017, the ratings of CEOs.
Tim Cook’s rating was 93 percent. First place went to Benno Dorer of The Clorox Company (99 percent).
Right away, my statistics intuition kicked in. By that I mean that when the spread from number 53 in a list to the top is 6 percent, small statistical fluctuations can make a huge difference in the position on the list. For example, if in this rating system, Tim Cook’s number had been a 95 percent instead of 93 percent approval, he would have climbed 24 slots to rival Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (in place number 29). That’s a mathematical rating system very sensitive to small input changes.
And so, when the approval ratings are this closely bunched, being far down on the list is more symptomatic of a large, sensitive-to-input list than any obvious failure on the part of the CEO. However….
Long Work Hours
I read through some of the employee comments, and one of the common threads was that, while Apple is a great place to work, there isn’t much in the way of work-life balance. I can attest to that.
Typically, we work so that we can live life. Family. Personal pursuits. Hobbies. Sports. Vacations. However, Apple has a reputation for devouring one’s life. The employee is either fully dedicated to Apple and its mission, or she/he will be miserable. Apple employment is all-consuming. World changing.
Some employees thrive in that environment and some wilt.
It’s All About Product
Over the last year or so, Apple came under considerable fire for not shipping many new products. Our Bryan Chaffin punctuated that issue in March. “iPhone SE 2017 Another Example of Apple Doing Less and Less with More and More.” Notably, the Mac community was in an uproar.
It took some time, but Apple pulled itself out of the malaise and swept us away during the WWDC keynote with new, exciting, shipping products and a promise of the iMac Pro (and indirectly the Mac Pro) yet to come.
One might surmise that many employees had to work very hard and in total commitment to that glorious effort in preparation for WWDC. If just a few percent of Apple’s employees started to grumble about what was asked of them this last year, Tim Cook’s Glassdoor rating would surely suffer the mathematical effect I noted above.
Measuring the Man
Aside from asking a lot from his employees, it’s hard to point to anything negative regarding Tim Cook as a CEO. He sets the example. He is steadfast in his commitment to our privacy and security—to the point of crossing swords with the FBI. He’s committed to the Earth’s environment and respectful treatment of all his diverse employees. Indeed people everywhere. He shows us a sense of fairness and reward for work well done. He communicates well with the media and does his level best to preserve the amazing legacy of Steve Jobs and his vision.
I’m not particularly concerned about Mr. Cook’s drop in the Glassdoor rating by employees. The nuances of the mathematics of the rating system combined with an almost imperceptible change in employee feelings, as Mr. Cook has likely asked for a very high level of achievement, make the descent in 2017 a non-issue in my book.
Instead, look at what Apple is achieving as a company. That’s the measure of a CEO.